We will identify sustainable alternatives to plastic and non-recyclable packaging as we build the sustainable future of retail. We ship over 220 million packages every year, which makes identifying more sustainable alternatives to plastic and non-recyclable packaging a critical opportunity for us, our customers and our environment. Given the lack of a scalable alternative, we have committed to a phased approach toward full recyclability, including:
- Switching to post-consumer recycled content as much as possible,
- Reducing the average emissions intensity of our packages by reducing the overall amount of packaging used,
- Increasing the recyclability of our packaging,
- Implementing waste reduction initiatives at our fulfillment centers, and
- Using our platforms to educate consumers on recycling practices, including partnering with the How2Recycle label in the US.
Our Sustainable Packaging Work Group has set the following Sustainable Packaging Goals & Targets, which you can learn more about by clicking on each of the targets listed below.
- Improve Carbon Footprint Through Source Reduction
- Improve Customer Education on Recyclability of QRG Packaging
- Increase the Recyclability of QRG Packaging
- Use Recycled Content in QRG Packaging
- Increase On-site Packaging Recycling
Improve Carbon Footprint Through Source Reduction
Reduce the average emissions intensity per package shipped by 5% compared to a 2018 baseline by 2022
We are always looking for ways to reduce our environmental footprint when shipping our products to our customers and we are well on our way to achieving this goal. For QVC US and HSN we continually focus on using “right-sized” packaging where possible, to minimize the amount of materials we use to ship products. We do this by encouraging our suppliers to ship product to us in packaging specifically made to fit around the product (not oversized) and by consolidating customer orders where possible to ship multiple orders in one package. In the US, QVC and HSN have eliminated marketing materials, promotional inserts and program guides in our packages as we move toward sharing information electronically. QVC Germany has made strides in reducing the thickness of some of their shipping boxes as well as the thickness of their paper tape and QVC Japan has reduced the thickness of their air pillows and stretch film, all of which minimizes the amount of packaging we produce.
We are proud to announce our most recent partnership with the Sustainable Packaging Coalition’s How2Recycle® label program, enabling our customers in the US to make more informed decisions around how to best dispose of the packaging their purchases come in. In the coming months, customers at QVC US, HSN and Zulily will soon see a new label on select packages making it easier for them to determine how to best recycle that particular packages’ material. This initiative is part of our company’s greater commitment to being a responsible corporate citizen throughout our operations and we’re excited to have our customers join us on this part of our sustainability journey.
We have several exciting initiatives completed and underway as it relates to increasing the recyclability of our packaging. Much of the tape we use for our corrugated boxes at QVC US and HSN has moved from plastic-based tape to water activated tape. This means customers do not have to remove the tape from the box before recycling it. In addition, we no longer add packing peanuts to shipments packed in our fulfillment centers.
Did you know if there is a label on a plastic polybag, you have to remove the label before recycling it? Given this, we are printing shipping information directly on our polybags (versus using a label) in some of our fulfillment centers and are looking to increase this capability over time. Several of our markets are also planning to transition from using bags made with multiple materials (e.g. jiffy bags with paper fiber on the outside with plastic bubbles on the inside) to a recyclable bag that is made from single-material (e.g. a bag made out of jiffy paper that has a paper liner). And our QVC team in the UK is busy planning various initiatives in this space that will be implemented in the coming year.
We are also proud to say we invest labor to reuse packaging where possible from returned product. For example, our team in QVC Germany reuses shoe boxes that have not been damaged that come back from returned products and the QVC team in the US does the same thing with jewelry presentation cases.
Use Recycled Content in QRG Packaging
Increase the average % of recycled content by the following percentages for outbound over packaging by 2025
- 30% increase in recycled content in outbound fiber materials
- 25% increase in recycled content in plastics
Increase the amount of recycled content for proprietary brands to the following minimum percentages by 2030
- 60% recycled content in fiber materials
- 30% recycled content in plastics
This is an area that will continue to evolve as we investigate new packaging solutions, strengthen our external partnerships and share our Sustainable Packaging Goals & Targets with our packaging suppliers. In the US, QVC’s proprietary brands have switched from using apparel polybags (the clear plastic bag that protects the apparel item) that had 0% recycled content to one that is now comprised of 30% recycled content. HSN has increased the recycled content of their corrugated boxes from 27% to 45% recycled content on average and QVC Germany is working toward an amazing improvement – moving from 0% recycled content in their polybags to ones that are now made out of 80% recycled content. The QVC team in the UK plans to convert their jewelry pouches and boxes to ones made with recycled content as well, and they are working on having bagging film and returned polybags recycled into other film and bags for reuse.
Please see below for the amount of packaging we used made from either wood or paper in metric tons last year, as well as the percent that was made from recycled and/or certified material. These figures represent QVC US, HSN, Zulily and all QVC International markets and includes the packaging we use to ship products to our customers, as well as any materials we use to process and reclaim returned products, except for QVC Germany. The information included on behalf of QVC Germany includes this same data, plus their vendor packaging, which includes the materials our vendors use to package and ship product to us.
In addition to the data provided above, below you will find the total weight of plastic packaging we’ve used over the past two years in metric tons ,as well as the percent of that packaging that is recyclable and the percent of recycled content used within it. This data includes all packaging we procure for shipping our packages and reclaiming returns. The packaging our vendors use when shipping products to us is not included, except for QVC Germany.
* Represents QVC US, HSN, Zulily, and QVC international markets.
** Represents QVC US, HSN, Zulily and QVC UK only.
To begin recycling more of our packaging at our on-site fulfillment centers we first needed to understand our current state. In 2018 we conducted an audit of our recycling activities across our US fulfillment centers to see how much paper, corrugate, wood and plastic film is currently being recycled. With this information we are now developing consistent recycling standards and partnerships across our fulfillment network. Stay tuned for more information to come.