New research from DS Smith suggests that 43% of consumers are frustrated by excessive packaging, which reportedly results in 86,000 tonnes of potentially avoidable CO2 emissions each year – but four-fifths of businesses admit to using packaging that does not fit with the size of the product.

According to new research from DS Smith, oversized boxes containing excess material are causing nearly 5 million unnecessary delivery journeys, reportedly leading to 86,071 tonnes of potentially avoidable CO2 being released into the atmosphere each year.

DS Smith claims that oversized cardboard boxes or cardboard boxes that do not fit their contents transport excess air, a phenomenon it refers to as ‘air-commerce’. The company says that this results in over 169,291 tonnes of extra cardboard being used – at a reported cost of £39.4 million – as well as 410 million m2 of plastic tape and 80 million m3 of filler.

The company adds that this negatively impacts consumer perceptions of brands. Based on a survey of 2,000 UK adults who have shopped online in the past six months, 43% responded that they felt frustrated by a retail brand when faced with a box with excessive packaging.

41% of consumers say that they would like to receive packaging made from alternative renewable sources, according to the company. Consumers would apparently also like to receive packaging that tightly fits oddly shaped items (32%) and packaging that is waterproof (30%) in the future.

DS Smith also conducted research with 250 UK adults who are responsible for packaging, shipping, and logistics as part of their role at a company that sells online goods. 80% of business respondents admitted that they often use packaging that is not closely sized to the product.

More than half (55%) of businesses are focused on the recyclability of their packaging, while 35% were interested in the reusability of packaging.

Stefano Rossi, DS Smith Packaging CEO, comments: “Consumers want less packaging. Raw materials are more expensive than ever, and the benefits for the environment are significant, so now is the time to design the air out of online shopping.

“Wasted materials are not an accident, waste happens because of choices made at the design stage. The role of design in protecting our planet just can’t be over-estimated – we need to adopt a circular approach, designing out waste to keep materials in use for as long as possible.

“Through our partnership with the Ellen MacArthur Foundation we have already trained 700 DS Smith designers to use circular design principles, who are working on more than 2,000 live ‘circular’ projects. Our hope is that circular principles will become the norm for all design, everywhere, and that ‘air commerce’ quickly becomes a thing of the past.”