#1Thing: Companies with Sustainable Shipping Practices

August 27, 2019
Sustainable Packaging

(Photo: Ruslan Khismatov/Getty Images)


By Lori Melton

Businesses implement all kinds of eco-friendly practices like switching to paperless communications, installing recycling bins in the break room, and conserving energy usage by using LED lighting.

However, using paper and plastic for packaging and shipping products and generating carbon emissions from transport, seem like formidable environmental stumbling blocks. In fact, according to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the transportation sector accounted for 29 percent of total greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions in 2017.

Despite these challenges, many companies are aiming to flip their shipping models and incorporate sustainable shipping practices. A few companies making outstanding sustainable shipping efforts are listed below.


As a leading online retailer, a huge part of eBay’s business requires its sellers to ship the products they sell on the site. Keeping in line with the company’s numerous eco-conscious initiatives, eBay offers its sellers (and consumers at large) a line of sustainable shipping products.

For example, the firm’s shipping boxes are 100 percent recyclable and reusable and they are made from at least 50 percent recycled fibers. They are also Sustainable Forest Initiative (SFI) certified. Padded mailers are 100 percent recyclable. Plus, the company offers recycling instructions that a seller can provide to a buyer with their order.


Walmart is one of the biggest brick-and-mortar retailers in the world. As such, it moves a lot of goods. The company is also dedicated to finding sustainable options for its massive shipping fleet. Part of the effort includes light-weighting loads, focusing on aerodynamics, and driver training. Furthermore, Walmart is a member of the Business for Social Responsibility (BSR) organization and adheres to the Sustainable Fuel Buyers’ Principles. The principles include supporting low-carbon, sustainable fuel choices. Furthermore, via Project Gigaton, Walmart aims to cut 1 billion metric tons of GHG by 2030.


UPS is a world leader in logistics. The shipping giant employs over 450,000 people and serves 10.5 million customers in over 220 countries. The corporation’s eco-conscious efforts fall under its Commitment to More policy. Sustainable shipping practices include using cutting-edge, sustainable packaging solutions and logging over 1 billion miles since 2000 using alternative fuels and advanced technology vehicles.

The fleet contains over 10,000 low-emissions vehicles, which include all-electric, electric hybrids, hydraulic hybrids, and eBikes. Alternative fuels include propane, compressed natural gas (CNG), liquefied natural gas (LNG) and biomethane.

Kohl’s Department Store

Kohl’s implements a wide array of sustainable practices across its business model. As such, the retailer has received multiple environmental awards, including landing on Barron’s 2019 list of 100 Most Sustainable Companies and receiving the EPA’s SmartWay Excellence Award many times. The company’s eco-conscious shipping strategies include being a SmartWay transportation partner, reducing over 2.6 million miles in 2018, using drop-and-hook techniques to reduce idle times for trucks, transporting 97 percent of its cargo on BSR ships, using rail to reduce carbon emissions on inbound merchandise freight by 75 percent, and partnering with carriers that support environmental programs with strict sustainability goals.


LimeLoop is revolutionizing the shipping industry with its innovative recycled vinyl packages. The mailers have a 10-year shelf life and are made from upcycled billboard vinyl. They are also lined with recycled cotton.

After receiving a shipment, the recipient uses a prepaid shipping label to return the mailer for reuse. Pairing the shippers with a software platform allows users to track the environmental impact a shipment makes. For instance, the program will show how many trees, how much oil, and water is saved. The company claims that “For every 100 shippers, 1,300 trees, 1.78 million gallons of water, and 4,000 gallons of water is saved.”