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This eCommerce packaging innovation comes with the mission to eliminate packaging waste
After the EU ambition to ban single-use products, we speak to the Finnish startup being the first to bring reusable packaging to the world of online retail. And rewarding you when using it.
”You think about getting a new pair of gloves for the rough winter, where do you get them? Yes sure, you can go to the city center but there's big chances you'll go online as well to look for the right cut, colour, and price. eCommerce is bloody fantastic, you can find everything. We are all at it, and the market is growing at double figures. Online shopping is big business these days — unfortunately at the expense of the environment. The more products we have delivered to our homes, the more the inevitable pile of packaging waste grows.”
Jonne Hellgren is a sustainably driven Finn with international and entrepreneurial mindset. He’s also the Co-founder of a globally unique startup in reusable and returnable delivery packaging, winner of several awards and competitions.
— The circular economy and waste reduction are major topics for the future. That’s where RePack gets on the stage. We want to introduce our product loud and proud to the whole world, starting in Europe and the Nordic countries. We want to set an example to others. We are the first to bring reusable packaging to the world of online retail, he says, continuing,
— Megatrends speak for us. Online retail grows double digits, but at the same time, single-use objects are less popular. In fact, the EU has started to guide legislation in this direction by banning single-use products.
RePack’s mission is to eliminate packaging waste from eCommerce in a few steps:
- When shopping at an online store that offers RePack as a packaging option, you can choose to have your purchased items shipped in a returnable and reusable RePack.
- Once you received your order, you simply fold the package and drop it in a post box – free of charge, anywhere in the world.
- When your RePack has travelled back to its origin, you are rewarded with a discount voucher that you can use at any RePacking web store.
- The package will serve and reward many more customers after you: it can be used up to — at least — 20 times.
How big is the packaging issue in the e-com industry right now?
— In 2016, world plastics production totalled 335 million metric tons, says Hellgren. The main cause for the increase in plastic production is packaging. Half of annual plastic production is destined for a single-use product.
— Single-use plastics have become a serious global problem. Every year, according to a study, Europeans generate 25 million tons of plastic waste and less than 30% is collected for recycling.
Do you remember the famous EU waste hierarchy? Reduce, Reuse, Recycle. Well, currently this is not the case, and delivery packaging ends up in landfills or in incinerators; the two worst options.
Recently, the EU showed concrete ambition in banning single-use plastics by 2021. In addition, it’s close to 300 organisations — representing 20% of all plastic packaging — that signed the New Plastics Economy Global Commitment led by the Ellen MacArthur Foundation. Signatories include major consumer businesses such as H&M Group, Burberry, Inditex, Selfridges, Target, L’Oréal and Walmart. The commitment aims to eradicate plastic waste and pollution at the source.
You now team up with H&M Group/Weekday and Zalando. What will you do together?
— We started pilots with them this September. With Weekday and its on-demand production, we are innovating on the return system. You can just bring your empty RePack’s back at any Weekday stores, which is pretty awesome. Zalando is also an exciting adventure, they will be shipping around 70,000 RePack in the Nordics this month!
For 2020, RePack is also a part of the EU program Horizon.
— This funding is mindblowing, it signs the beginning of RePack 2.0, says Hellgren. It will allow us to have more ambitious projects, getting us closer to our big dream of making reusable packaging the standard for eCommerce. Such a funding and recognition from the European Union allows us to dream bigger!
And they’re also entering the US market.
— Ciele Athletics, Softstar shoes, and Curator SF have been testing RePack all summer. As their brands got bigger, they all noticed a growing number of customers returning a part of their orders. This means that the packaging is coming back, making single-use even more insane. They all decided to take part of our US launch with a pilot during the summer. The randomly — and, if you ask me, luckily — chosen ones would receive their goods in a RePack. At the moment, we are still collecting all the feedbacks, but so far it’s been great and we are just happy.
What will see from you onwards?
— We have a bunch of projects coming! We’re working hard on the customer journey. The ambition is to make reusable packaging the best option, always. Packaging is the first customer touchpoint and it’s not supposed to end up in the trash. We want to make the world available in a RePack, says Hellgren.
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