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Sustainable Practices in International Shipping

The race towards achieving carbon neutrality is gaining momentum, and sustainable shipping is emerging as a crucial player in this endeavour. The year 2019 witnessed parcel and freight shipping contributing a staggering 19 million tons of carbon dioxide emissions. While confronting the future implications of climate change may be uncomfortable for many, it is imperative to institute tangible changes within a short timeframe to mitigate global temperature increases. Commencing these changes promptly will enhance our ability to make a substantial impact.

For businesses aspiring to foster sustainability, a pivotal starting point lies in optimising shipping and logistics operations. This article will delve into actionable steps that businesses can adopt to steer closer to carbon neutrality. Additionally, common queries regarding the journey toward sustainability will be addressed, providing insights into the transformative process. However, the Advance Authorisation Scheme is a duty exemption scheme issued by the Indian Government. It allows businesses duty-free import of goods and services that will be used in the production of export goods.

What is Sustainable Shipping?

Eco-friendly shipping, sometimes referred to as sustainable shipping, is implementing procedures meant to reduce harmful effects on the environment.  Sustainable shipping represents a holistic approach to mitigating the environmental consequences of shipping activities.

It requires a combination of innovative technologies, responsible waste management, and the conscious selection of materials to create a more eco-friendly and sustainable shipping industry. Efficiently reducing carbon emissions is a crucial component of sustainable shipping. An additional essential element of environmentally responsible shipping is the deliberate endeavour to reduce waste.

This entails cutting back on the amount of packaging materials used, starting recycling programmes, and properly disposing of waste produced throughout the transportation process. Adopting a circular economy model, which recycles and reuses materials, can assist in reducing the environmental impact of disposing of waste related to shipping.

Why does Sustainable Shipping Matter?

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s most recent report, “Climate Change 2022: Impacts, Adaptation, and Vulnerability,” emphasises how important climate change is. The study claims that there is proof of the effects of climate change being present, such as intense heat waves, unpredictable weather patterns, food insecurity, and more challenging agricultural circumstances. What’s worrying is that these effects become more irreversible the longer we put off taking significant action.

The significance of sustainable shipping emerges as a crucial response to the environmental consequences outlined in the report. The shipping industry, influenced in part by consumer demand for quicker transit times, plays a notable role in environmental impact. However, there remains an opportunity to effect positive change. It becomes evident that offering sustainable shipping options is valuable, especially when customers are well-informed about the repercussions of their shopping habits on the environment.

The relevance of sustainability in consumer choices is reinforced by the findings of The Global Sustainability Study 2021 by Simon-Kucher & Partners. 60% of people worldwide rank sustainability as important when making selections about what to buy. This indicates a growing awareness among consumers about the environmental footprint of their choices and a willingness to support sustainable alternatives.

What Are Some Sustainable Practices in International Shipping?

The urgency for sustainable shipping has never been more pronounced, prompting businesses to consider strategic initiatives. A logical starting point involves tackling major concerns such as packaging, transportation emissions, and returns. To aid businesses in this endeavour, here are some essential best practices for sustainable shipping.

Eco-Friendly Packaging

Environmentally friendly packaging alternatives aim to reduce the consumption of natural resources and minimize environmental impact in comparison to traditional packaging. These alternatives often utilize recycled, recyclable, or compostable materials.

Particularly, the focus is on addressing the challenges posed by single-use materials such as poly mailers, which are challenging to recycle and cannot be placed in regular curbside recycling bins. Opting for plastic or cardboard packaging is not inherently problematic; these materials are lightweight, and practical recycling options exist. However, it’s crucial to ensure that the chosen materials have accessible and sustainable disposal methods.

  • Some widely accepted eco-friendly packaging materials include:
  • Plant-based packaging materials.
  • Biodegradable plastic packaging that decomposes over time.
  • Packaging made from previously recycled materials.
  • Plantable packaging that can be grown into plants.
  • Compostable plastic packaging is designed to break down naturally.

Balance Carbon Footprints

By choosing to purchase carbon offsets, companies effectively make up for the emissions they produce via their operational or industrial activities by giving money to groups that support efforts aimed at removing or reducing carbon emissions. When a company purchases enough offsets to completely offset the carbon footprint it produces, it reaches carbon neutrality.

Beyond only helping the environment, carbon offsets are important because they give companies a useful way to show their dedication to sustainability. With this strategy, companies may demonstrate their sincere care for sustainability without placing further obligations on their clientele.

Minimum Materials for Packaging

In addition to being good for the environment, using less packing material also works out financially for companies. Businesses can reduce their overall waste and save money by using less packing. This procedure also aids in reducing the dimensional weight of shipments, which lowers the cost of shipping.

Using excessively large packaging materials wastes resources and is inconvenient for the environment. Businesses can choose environmentally friendly packing materials that are suitable for the products being sent in order to take a more eco-friendly stance. This thoughtful decision benefits the company’s bottom line financially in addition to being in line with environmental ideals.

Use Ground Shipping Methods

Opting for ground-based shipping emerges as the most ecologically responsible service level. Although it might lack the speed associated with expedited and overnight alternatives, certain customers express a willingness to endure the wait if it means contributing positively to the environment. An effective approach involves transparently enlightening customers about the environmental implications of their choices.

For instance, presenting carbon emissions data alongside corresponding service levels serves as a prompt for shoppers to consider the ecological impact before making a selection. Empowering customers by offering a choice between expedited and ground shipping, with the latter being the more sustainable option, can be a strategic move. Alternatively, a business may opt to streamline its service levels, making ground shipping the default option.

Encourage Customers for Sustainable Practices

Encouraging customers to embrace sustainable practices is integral to our commitment to environmental responsibility. We advocate for the conscious reuse of packaging materials and active participation in recycling initiatives.

It is noteworthy that specific thin plastic products, such as air pillows, bubble wrap, mailing envelopes, and bubble mailers, that are frequently used in packing might not be appropriate for recycling at the curb. Despite this, if you opt for these materials, we provide valuable suggestions on creative ways to reuse them. Additionally, we offer clear instructions on locating the nearest drop-off locations for proper recycling.


The urgency for sustainable shipping practices is evident in the face of escalating carbon emissions and the irreversible impacts of climate change. Businesses can play a pivotal role in this transformation by adopting eco-friendly packaging, balancing carbon footprints through offsets, minimising packaging materials, and promoting ground shipping methods.

The growing consumer awareness of sustainability underscores the significance of offering green alternatives. By encouraging customers to embrace sustainable practices, businesses contribute to environmental responsibility, fostering a positive impact on our planet.