Zalando is moving from plastic to paper

Photo: Zalando

Zalando kicked off its transition from plastic shipping bags to paper bags: While the previous bags were made of plastic with 80% recycled content, the new shipping bags are made of FSC-certified (FSC® N003557) and recyclable paper.

The new shipping bags were previously tested in a 3-month pilot in Sweden and Zalando customers were convinced of the paper version. Now, the packaging is being rolled out in all 20 markets where Zalando is active. By the end of the first quarter in 2022, the company plans to have switched entirely to paper shipping bags.

Switching from plastic to paper is one way to work toward our goal of eliminating single-use plastic in packaging by 2023. In 2020, Zalando was already able to reduce the amount of single-use plastic in packaging per item shipped by 22% to an average of 7.8 grams.

Masood Choudhry, Vice President Logistics at Zalando, says: "We continuously look at other more sustainable material options, and ways to make our packaging fit for circular systems. Sustainability doesn't have a finish line — we can always improve on or question the status quo. This is why we need to develop new packaging options that provide the best possible protection for the items shipped and simultaneously meet our sustainability requirements. We are trialing options with our "pre-owned" boxes, which are already made of 30% grass, and are working with our teams on what reusable packaging could look like in the future.”

Moving from white to brown carton

In addition, Zalando customers will receive their orders in new packaging, with the white boxes replaced by brown ones. They are still made of 100% recycled cardboard and water-based ink. Both boxes and paper bags will then reflect the same look and feel.

On Zalando’s journey toward becoming a sustainable fashion platform, it is vital to minimize waste and keep materials in use for as long as possible. Polybags, for example, are a major challenge for the fashion industry and thus also for Zalando. The thin plastic sleeves to protect single items, generally need to be transparent enough to enable bar code visibility. Their main purpose is to shield products from moisture, dirt, and damage during storage, transportation, and processing. Zalando’s polybags are made of 90% recycled plastic, and we are looking into opportunities to reduce the total amount of material used, such as by folding items repeatedly to make them more compact.