In the ever expanding race to 'Go Green', even if your company has a green product, it needs a green method of shipment. Recently eBay released an article describing recent efforts to make their industry greener. As you all know e-Bay is the largest auction based internet retail shop on the web today. eBay's new green initiative is a simple concept, but un-tested. The idea is that e-bay would ship out products in one of three 'eBay box' sizes and encourage sellers to re-use the box. eBay is encouraging customers to re-use the boxes as many times as possible. eBay also hopes that the boxes will be used as a re-usable 'black board' for customers to write messages on when they ship to buyers to encourage further use of the boxes and encouraging people to 'Go Green'.
So the question is, what is the viability of eBay's re-usable box, and is it really a green alternative to its one-use box counter parts. The eBay boxes will be made from 100% recycled, Forest Stewardship Council (FSC)-certified corrugated paperboard. If that doesn't scream 'GREEN', than I don't know what does. So it seems that eBay is being environmentally conscious in the materials they choose, but can these boxes sustain multi-use abuse and actually decrease the amount of corrugated boxes going to waste? This is arguable. Unfortunately just because a sheet of corrugated paperboard is recycled doesn't make it stronger than a standard sheet of corrugated paperboard. It is doubtful that a box will be able to be re-used in an on-going manner, and that enough buyers and sellers will remember to re-use the box.
eBay may be better off utilizing plastic corrugated boxes rather than standard corrugated boxes. Plastic corrugated boxes are inherently greener than corrugated because they are made of plastic. Plastic corrugated cartons are more versatile than paper corrugated cartons. Plastic corrugated is lightweight which saves on shipping costs, and at the same time can reduce product damage better than corrugated boxes. Therefore, eBay might be better off with plastic corrugated cartons because they will hold their appearance for years, and will make a better surface for eBay's green massages. To top it off, plastic corrugated is 100% recyclable and is designed specifically for re-usability and recyclability.
For more information on corrugated plastic cartons, check out this page.