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Study Reports Shoppers Frustrated By Excessive Packaging


Online shoppers are fed up with a glut of packages arriving too big for the products being shipped, too flimsy, covered with too much tape or not being waterproof or recyclable.

Those are among the main findings of a new national survey by packaging provider DS Smith, which tracked the frustrations amid a jump in e-commerce over the past two years that is continuing into the holiday season.

Consumers in the survey overwhelmingly say sustainability of packaging matters to them, so much so that about 40 percent would pay more for that. A third say they would pay up to 24 percent more, and nearly another third would pay at least 25 percent or more.

DS Smith said the results showcase its efforts to provide environmentally friendly products that replace problem plastics, remove carbon from supply chains and provide innovative recycling solutions.

“Online shopping remains popular so the onus is on business to design out waste and make sure materials can stay in use for as long as possible,” said Melanie Galloway, VP of sales marketing and innovation.

“That is why DS Smith’s mission is to be a leader in the sustainable packaging space, working to offer innovative solutions to these problems to make consumers’ sustainability goals easier to achieve.”

The poll also showed widespread support among consumers to recycle. More than 40 percent say their recycling has increased since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic in March 2020, and nearly 70 percent say they recycle cardboard packaging from online deliveries always or most of the time.

That embrace of recycling matches the spike in e-commerce, with two thirds saying their frequency of buying online has increased, and more than half saying they expect that to continue to grow.

Still, consumers expressed frustrations. Citing boxes with too much extra space, 38 percent say about half of their deliveries were filled with air and 39 percent say it was a quarter of air.

Among other problems with their packages: 41 percent said the package was too big for the products being shipped, 29 percent said it uses too much filler, 27 percent said it was waterproof, 25 percent said the packaging is flimsy and easily damaged, 24 percent used too much plastic tape, 21 percent said it was difficult to open and 12 percent stated that the package wasn’t recyclable.

“The idea of oversized boxes, containing excess packing material, that in turn overly fill delivery trucks, is not something any of us should perpetuate – consumers don’t want it, businesses can’t afford it, and ultimately the planet won’t thank us for it,” Galloway said.

DS Smith is focused on sustainable packaging in which designs are based on a circular economy approach. It is a model that is based on the principles of designing out waste and pollution, keeping products and materials in use and regenerating natural systems.

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