- In partnership with UOB, Singapore Post (SingPost) and Better Packaging, findings from the pilot showed that 1 in 3 consumers opted reusable packaging for e-commerce purchases
- 90% of participating retailers found it convenient to implement reusable packaging which improved their efficiency compared to poly mailers or paper boxes
SINGAPORE, 11 April 2023 – WWF-Singapore (World Wide Fund for Nature Singapore) today announced its findings from a pilot initiative designed to reduce e-commerce packaging waste in Singapore. Out of the 15,000 customer orders processed during the six months pilot, one in three customers chose to use reusable packaging for their online purchases when given the option and over half of them voluntarily returned the packaging. The post-pilot survey also showed that with better consumer education and convenience, the return rate can be boosted to above 75%, fostering a more sustainable e-commerce landscape.
Launched in April 2022, the pilot programme was spearheaded by WWF-Singapore’s business initiative Plastic ACTion (PACT) in partnership with UOB, SingPost and Better Packaging. The pilot aimed to promote the scalability of reusable e-commerce packaging in Singapore and shape a circular economy.
Singapore’s e-commerce market is projected to grow by more than 50% by 2027. A study conducted by MIT Real Estate Innovation Lab in 2021 found that packaging accounted for 45% of carbon emissions in the e-commerce supply chain. The second biggest contributor was returns management at 25%.
Mr R. Raghunathan, Chief Executive Officer at WWF-Singapore, said, “We are heartened by the findings from the pilot as it demonstrates Singaporeans’ willingness to do more for the environment while emphasising the pivotal role of retailers and industry players to create a new, sustainable e-commerce ecosystem that appeals to the public. The findings from the pilot will
1The pilot initiative was conducted between April 2022 to September 2022 across 12 retailers spanning from apparels, personal care, health and wellness, grocery, pet care to secondhands.
also provide practical resources for retailers and organisations looking to implement or transition to reusable packaging.”
Mr Eric Lim, Chief Sustainability Officer at UOB, said, “The pilot has shown us that consumer demand for more sustainable goods and services is indeed growing. UOB’s recent research also indicates that 51 per cent of consumers would be more inclined to choose sustainable options if there are more made available. This means vast opportunities for businesses to adopt sustainable practices, both for their own growth and to contribute to Singapore’s circular economy. We encourage consumers and companies to make these everyday eco-conscious choices as part of their personal and corporate purpose, and join us in creating positive impact for a sustainable future.”
“SingPost is thrilled to be part of this trial to test the viability of utilising reusable packaging in Singapore. The learnings from this trial are valuable to us as we work progressively towards a circular economy approach in our packaging solution for our customers. We hope to take the lead in sustainability efforts for the logistics sector and also enable more businesses to go green. Reverse logistics has become increasingly common with the growth of eCommerce and sits squarely in our goal to drive a sustainable future for our planet,” said Ms Neo Su Yin, Chief Executive Officer, Singapore, SingPost.
Customers involved in the pilot initiative could opt-in for reusable e-commerce packaging from 12 participating retailers (Refer to Annex A for the full list of participating retailers). Customers can return the packaging at no cost directly to the courier or any SingPost posting box during the pilot, and the packaging are reused by retailers for the next order. This helps to test the reusable packaging concept in a robust manner while utilising Singapore’s national postal network to manage packaging returns.
Consumers Willing to Select and Return Reusable Packaging
In a post-pilot survey among customers who opted in for reusable packaging, 81% attributed their actions to sustainability concerns, demonstrating the willingness of most consumers to adopt this when informed. Some customers who did not opt in indicated they were not aware of the option and the concept of reusable packaging, while some intended to keep the packaging for their own reuse. With better consumer education to improve awareness, this will likely enhance opt-in and return rates.
The pilot’s findings also demonstrated a promising average return-rate of 56% across retailers. Retailers who engaged in active consumer education and sent return reminders witnessed a boosted return rate and time taken for returns reduced by 30%.
The findings also highlighted convenience to be a crucial factor in facilitating timely returns where consumers preferred to have convenient locations to drop off the packaging than receiving incentives such as discounts. Survey results showed that only 37% of respondents are influenced to opt-in to reusable packaging due to incentives.
Operational Concerns Unfound
All retailers supported the reusable packaging concept after participating in the pilot. They found the implementation of an opt-in function on their e-commerce platform to be simple with minimal IT changes required. Operational adoption was also swift with little resistance once the retailers’ employees were informed about the alternative packing option and its environmental benefits. 90% of participating retailers indicated that their efficiency of packing goods had improved or was not affected due to the simple “drop and Velcro down” sealing packaging design.
Third-party logistics providers had also provided positive feedback during the fulfilment of the last mile delivery of purchases with no spoilage and breakage of products. As the concept scales, the suitability of packaging sizes and the compatibility of shipping labels with reusable packaging must be reviewed and optimised.
Scaling Singapore’s Reusable E-commerce Packaging Concept in The Future
Scaling the concept in Singapore would entail various considerations including closing the consumer knowledge gap and having a more efficient management of return logistics. Educating consumers and providing access to return touchpoints with clear instructions will increase consumers’ awareness of the impact of their decision. Similarly, optimisation of return logistics is required by increasing the number of drop-off points and leveraging Singapore’s extensive postal network to facilitate returns. This will increase the convenience of the return process and improve return rates.
More importantly, findings from the pilot highlighted the impetus need for collaborative participation across various stakeholders to drive the implementation of the reusable packaging concept. Logistic players, e-commerce platforms, retailers, and governmental institutions are urged to take an active role to best enable the ecosystem to function beyond the pilot initiative. Consumers have also demonstrated willingness to sustain the model for the advancement of Singapore’s circular economy, with three in four consumers willing to contribute through a deposit system or absorbing costs to have orders fulfilled in reusable packaging.
Find out more about the findings of the PACT e-commerce packaging pilot initiative here.
For more information, please contact:
World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) is one of the world’s largest and most respected independent conservation organisations. WWF’s mission is to stop the degradation of the earth’s natural environment and to build a future in which humans live in harmony with nature.
WWF-Singapore works locally and around the region to create impactful change around climate, circular economy, wildlife, biodiversity and sustainable finance by engaging individuals, communities, businesses and governments. Our mission is to stop the degradation of the planet’s natural environment and to build a future in which people live in harmony with nature.
For more information, please visit wwf.sg.
Started by WWF-Singapore and based on WWF’s No Plastic in Nature Initiative, Plastic ACTion (PACT) is a business initiative that aims to reduce waste and move towards a circular economy. The programme empowers companies to adapt their business models and processes to be more resource-efficient. By providing businesses with guidance and best practices, PACT enables them to make science-based decisions for responsible production and consumption. This will lower their environmental footprint, and address the growing consumer demand for sustainability.
UOB is a leading bank in Asia. Operating through its head office in Singapore and banking subsidiaries in China, Indonesia, Malaysia, Thailand and Vietnam, UOB has a global network of around 500 offices in 19 countries and territories in Asia Pacific, Europe and North America. Since its incorporation in 1935, UOB has grown organically and through a series of strategic acquisitions. Today, UOB is rated among the world’s top banks: Aa1 by Moody’s Investors Service and AA- by both S&P Global Ratings and Fitch Ratings.
For nearly nine decades, UOB has adopted a customer-centric approach to create long-term value by staying relevant through its enterprising spirit and doing right by its customers. UOB is focused on building the future of ASEAN – for the people and businesses within, and connecting with, ASEAN.
The Bank connects businesses to opportunities in the region with its unparalleled regional footprint and leverages data and insights to innovate and create personalised banking experiences and solutions catering to each customer’s unique needs and evolving preferences. UOB is also committed to help businesses forge a sustainable future, by fostering social inclusiveness, creating positive environmental impact and pursuing economic progress. UOB believes in being a responsible financial services provider and is steadfast in its support of art, social development of children and education, doing right by its communities and stakeholders.
About Singapore Post Limited
For more than 160 years, SingPost has been delivering trusted and reliable services to homes and businesses in Singapore. Today, SingPost is a leading eCommerce logistics player in Asia Pacific, providing innovative mail and logistics solutions in Singapore and around the world with operations in 15 markets, making every delivery count for people and planet. Building on its trusted communications through domestic and international delivery services, SingPost offers best-in-class eCommerce logistics solutions, from warehousing and fulfilment, last mile delivery and international freight forwarding.
ANNEX A: PARTNERS AND PARTICIPATING RETAILERS
|Logistics Partner||Singapore Post Limited|
|Packaging Partner||Better Packaging Co.|
|Participating Retailers||ALPS Group Pte Ltd (Cloversoft)|
EIG Dermal Wellness (S) Pte Ltd (Davines)
Herbal Pharm Pte Ltd
Outfyt Pte Ltd
Refash Pte Ltd
Retykle (Singapore) Pte Ltd
Rusby & Co Pte Ltd (Good Dog People ™)
Sports Fashion Pte Ltd (iRun)
Thryft Pte Ltd
Unpackt Pte Ltd
Vintage Sports Pte Ltd
World Wide Fund For Nature (Singapore) Limited
|Research Partner||DHL Consulting Asia Pacific|