Etsy extends carbon reduction effort to packaging

Dan Berthiaume
Senior Editor, Technology
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A handmade and vintage goods e-commerce retailer isn’t just offsetting carbon emissions from shipping, but from materials used to pack shipments.

Etsy Inc., which launched a program to offset carbon emissions caused by its shipments in 2019 and followed up with a February 2021 pledge to reach net zero emissions by 2030, will now offset 100% of carbon emissions from packaging. 

When customers buy an item on Etsy or its Reverb music gear marketplace, the company already measures the carbon emissions released into the atmosphere as a result of shipping that product and invest in projects that reduce carbon emissions by the same amount. 

Now, Etsy is including the carbon emissions from the materials used to pack items in that calculation and increasing its investments in offsets accordingly, with no additional cost to buyers or sellers. According to Etsy, 86% of its sellers already reuse packaging.

In 2020, Etsy says it offset 404,439 metric tons of carbon, the equivalent of protecting 825 sq. miles of U.S. forest for a year. Details of how Etsy measures carbon emissions from shipping and packaging are available here

In addition to offsets, Etsy has committed to longer term reduction measures, including encouraging its 4.4 million Etsy and Reverb sellers to use more sustainable packaging materials and offering opportunities to learn about how they can reduce their business’ footprint; exploring ways to connect sellers with vendors that can provide more sustainable packing materials, which could include circular packaging options; and advocating for public policies that will drive the decarbonization of the logistics sector.

“One of the most common sustainability challenges with online shopping is the amount of packaging materials used and the type of packaging materials chosen,” Chelsea Mozen, Etsy director of sustainability and impact engagement, said in a corporate blog post. “It’s always disappointing when a keychain arrives in an elephant-sized box, or overflowing with packing peanuts and bubble wrap that are difficult to recycle.”