Never before have so many products been sold (and shipped) to so many people, yet statistics show that we are using less packaging per person than before. According to the EPA and the Census Bureau, from 2000-2014 the amount of discarded packaging in the U.S. increased by only 1.1% while the population grew by 13%.
How has that happened?
Mostly through more efficient (and recyclable) packaging. Gone are items like clam- shell packages that are both impossible to open and non-recyclable. Most plastic packaging today, in addition to being customer-friendly, is recyclable, even the ubiquitous plastic grocery sacks.
Then there are outer shipping boxes. On the e-commerce side, dimensional charges by FedEx, UPS and the USPS add cost (the bigger the box, the more expensive the shipment, regardless of weight). Because of this, reducing shipment sizes has become a focus, both with the interior package and the outer shipping box. Plus, inside protective filler these days tends to be composed of recycled materials.
There has been a lot of progress in reducing waste, though we still have a long way to go in achieving the the ultimate objective -- sustainability.