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Driving Change: How Aftermarket Auto Parts Are Expanding Sustainability in 2021

People are keeping their cars longer than ever before, significantly lowering greenhouse gas emissions. Here’s how suppliers can protect and ship parts sustainably.

People are keeping their cars longer than ever before. Over the last ten years, the average age of the American car has increased by 17 percent to 11.9 years old. That’s older than in Europe, where the average age of the passenger car fleet is 10.8. COVID-19 is expected to drive this trend even further, as people tighten their budgets, avoid public places, and engage in less travel.

Interestingly enough, aging cars on the road might be good news for the environment.

A study by Toyota found that 28 percent of the carbon emissions produced over the life of a car will occur during the manufacturing and shipping process. The longer consumers avoid buying a new car, the lower their environmental footprint could be, even if they’re driving a traditional, gasoline-powered vehicle instead of a new hybrid or fully electric car.

However, maintaining cars for longer periods requires significant investment in maintenance and replacement parts. As a result, the global aftermarket automotive industry has grown to be worth an estimated $722.8 billion (€604.2 billion).

In addition to the positive environmental impact of keeping vehicles on the road longer, this market also represents a significant business opportunity with the increased demand in after-market parts. Once cars reach the end of their warranty, consumers are more likely to dodge the dealership for repairs, presenting supply chain challenges for repair shops. The growing prevalence of e-commerce also presents a disruption for auto parts suppliers. Here’s what you should know:


Meeting the Challenges of Shipping

The biggest way to protect profits and limit environmental impact is to ship auto parts only one time. If a part arrives cracked or broken because the package was mishandled, there’s no fixing it — it will have to be replaced. The subsequent shipment will require more packaging and transporting the new item will create more greenhouse gas emissions.

Durable packaging, and selecting the right packaging for your products are key to ensuring parts arrive to customers intact, limiting the environmental footprint of a delivery.

Here’s how to ship items that are:



For high-value items that need to be blocked, braced, and padded, Pregis’ Intellipack® SmartBagger™ foam-in-place system creates customized cushioning that conforms to the parcel boxes they’re contained in and the items they’re protecting. The system deposits two polyurethane foams inside of a bag or mold, and once the two solutions mix, they begin to rapidly expand. The packer can then “train” the foam to go where needed.

When shipping windshields, this system can block and brace multiple windshields in the same box and serve as a cushioned separator between items. Foam-in-place solutions are also the ideal protective packaging for other extremely heavy, bulky, and fragile high-value items, like engine blocks.


Heavy, Oversized, or Irregular-Shaped

One of the toughest aspects of shipping auto parts is that many of them are heavy, large, or oddly-shaped (or all of the above!). That’s where Pregis’ polyethylene foam planks come in, which can be prefabricated into the exact shapes and sizes needed for specific merchandise. The foam planks provide cushioning while preventing items from moving inside a box. The lightweight material also adds little to no weight to packages, helping control shipping costs.



Nothing ruins a car’s shiny aesthetic more than a scratch. So, protective films should be applied to any surface (including glass!) that needs a defense against scratches, dirt, and other nicks.

Pregis’ Easypack on-demand paper systems create customized protection that can be used as cushioning and void fill, or as a wrap for merchandise to protect from damage. Plus, the paper is made of 100 percent recycled content. 


Eco-Friendly Solutions

Pregis makes various recycled and eco-friendly products for protecting merchandise — a perfect way to increase the sustainability profile of your operation. Green bubble cushioning contains 25 percent post-industrial recycled content without loss of performance. HC Renew air cushioning is largely made up of recycled content, while portions of HC Inspyre air cushioning sales go toward clean water charities.


Ready to start shipping auto parts with a minimal aftermarket footprint?

Contact us today to set up or revamp your shipping and fulfillment operation


Read the Pregis Purpose to learn more about our sustainability initiatives and how they can help you and your customers become more eco-friendly in 2021.