Ecommerce has become increasingly popular in recent years, with more and more people choosing to buy their goods and services from the comfort of their own homes. However, with this convenience comes a number of challenges, one of which is the high rate of product returns.
According to a recent study by the National Retail Federation, the average online return rate is 16.2%. This means that for every 100 items sold online, 16.2 are returned. This can be a costly problem for retailers, as it can eat into their profits and damage their reputation.
But it’s not just retailers who are affected by product returns. Ecommerce product returns also have a significant impact on the environment.
How Ecommerce Product Returns Impact the Environment
There are a number of ways in which ecommerce product returns impact the environment.
- Waste: One of the biggest environmental impacts of ecommerce product returns is waste. When products are returned, they often end up in landfills. This is because it is often more expensive to recycle or re-sell returned products than it is to simply dispose of them. In fact, according to a study by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, over 5 billion pounds of returned merchandise end up in landfills each year. This is equivalent to the weight of over 1 million cars.
- Pollution: The production, transportation, and disposal of ecommerce product returns also contribute to pollution. For example, the production of packaging materials releases greenhouse gases into the atmosphere. And the transportation of returned products by truck or plane also contributes to air pollution.
- Water use: The production of ecommerce products also requires a significant amount of water. For example, it takes about 2,700 gallons of water to produce a single pair of jeans. And when these products are returned, the water used to produce them is often wasted.
- Land use: The production of ecommerce products also requires a significant amount of land. For example, it takes about 1.5 acres of land to produce a single pair of sneakers. And when these products are returned, the land used to produce them is often left vacant.
What Can Be Done to Reduce the Environmental Impact of Ecommerce Product Returns?
There are a number of things that can be done to reduce the environmental impact of ecommerce product returns.
- Recycle or re-sell returned products: When products are returned, retailers should try to recycle or re-sell them whenever possible. This will help to reduce the amount of waste that ends up in landfills.
- Offset the environmental impact of returns: Retailers can also offset the environmental impact of returns by investing in renewable energy or carbon offset projects. This will help to balance out the environmental impact of the production, transportation, and disposal of returned products.
- Donate products: When your customers place a return request, ask them if they would instead like to donate it to a charitable organization. Customers like to perform good deeds for the benefit of society. You can reward them with points for making a donation. Also, your customers can share their donation receipts on social media platforms.
Ecommerce product returns have a significant impact on the environment. These steps to reduce the number of returns, recycle or re-sell returned products, and offset the environmental impact of returns can help e-commerce brands to protect the environment.
NextBee’s Product Returns Slasher helps e-commerce brands motivate customers to choose to donate items or