As both consumers and businesses take the time to consider contributions to environmental sustainability this Earth Day, Happy Returns, a PayPal service, wants people to take a closer look at the impact being caused by the surge of e-commerce.
According to the Fibre Box Association, the use of corrugated boxes has increased by 9 percent year-over-year as consumers show continued preference for home delivery. Even with consumers fighting back by taking actions including avoiding single-use plastics and corporate commitments are made to carbon reduction — which can make a great difference — this increase in boxes is a huge battle.
For its part, Happy Returns is taking action to alleviate this cardboard waste and greenhouse gas emissions by aggregating online returns into reusable totes. On average, 17 items are placed in each tote, meaning on average there is only one shipment made for 17 returned items. The company’s data shows that less than 5 percent of items that are processed by Happy Returns are discarded due to not being able to be repaired or resold.
In a study conducted with an independent environmental consulting firm, the company found that if a retailer with 1 million in annual returns switched to Happy Returns, they would help reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 120,000 pounds per year.
Notably, the company works with retailers including Outerknown, Rothy’s Everlane, Ulta and Revolve.
“Sustainability is an important consideration for shoppers across the entire e-commerce purchasing journey,” said David Sobie, vice president of Happy Returns by PayPal. “Shoppers have unlimited options in who they choose to shop with, and brands who adopt eco-friendly practices and prioritize sustainability win time and time again. Happy Returns has always sought to deliver a reverse logistics solution that not only reduces the cost and complexity of returns for shoppers and merchants but reduces the impact of returns on the environment. Our mission is to make returns beautiful for shoppers, retailers and the planet.”
In the first quarter, Happy Returns removed nearly 1 million boxes from the returns process, according to the company’s internal analysis. Additionally, in just the first quarter, Happy Returns accepted enough returns to save more than 300 miles of cardboard from the landfill, enough to stretch from Happy Returns’ headquarters in Santa Monica to PayPal’s headquarters in San Jose.
As previously reported by WWD, Happy Returns has also made itself an easy solution for consumers, the company has more than 5,000 return bar locations across the country in stores including Paper Source, Ulta, Staples, FedEx and Cost Plus World Market. In fact, 78 percent of Americans live within a 10-mile radius of one of these locations. And survey data showed that more than 70 percent of consumers actually prefer using a Happy Returns return bar over return by mail when presented with the option.
“Brands that offer Happy Returns box-free, in person return drop off service to their shoppers are promoting returns that are better for the planet,” Sobie said. “When shoppers return items box free, they are eliminating the cardboard waste that characterizes returns by mail. And this densely packed, aggregated shipment takes up less space on the truck.”
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