When you get that idea of the perfect spring jacket in your head, what do you do to find it? My guess: you go online to look for the right cut, colour, and price. And when you find it, it’s just a few clicks away! Online shopping has been a massive game-changer for both retailers and shoppers worldwide, making virtually everything available for everyone everywhere. We are all at it, and the market is growing at double figures. So retailers reach a global clientele, and we can choose from an endless array of brands and shop at home in our pajamas at any hour (or at the office, looking really focused).
Although online shopping might be useful to most, just take a look at those heaps of cardboard boxes in backyards and alleys to see the downside: we are drowning in packaging trash.
So you found your dream jacket, and in a few days, the package finally arrives and you get to admire your new spring look. And that’s when, in the blink of an eye, the delivery box goes from being something you eagerly expected to something you need to get rid of. Ok, it’s recyclable – but as an eco-conscious consumer, the question may have crossed your mind: what if it could be not only recycled, but… reused?
No more disposable packaging, it’s time to reuse packaging. With RePack packaging you can now drop your package in a post box and await your reward.
RePack is an ecommerce packaging innovation with the mission to eliminate packaging waste. Here’s how:
- 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 have unpacked your goods, you simply fold the package and drop it in a post box – free of charge, anywhere in the world.
- When your RePack has traveled 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.
Packaging Innovation for Easy Sustainable Shopping
The company behind RePack is Helsinki based Plan B From Outer Space Ltd. Fed up with the lack of truly sustainable product and service solutions, they started off in 2011 as a sustainable design agency combining sustainability analysis with industrial design. While working on a load carrier project with the Finnish Post office, the idea of reusable packaging was born. “The concept had to be a no-brainer for users in order to work. First, we created the return network utilizing post boxes, as they are accessible everywhere”, tells CEO Jonne Hellgren. “This determined the design specifications for the delivery boxes, and our first foldable and returnable box was designed.”
80% Less CO2 emissions with RePack
RePack’s business model was invented in collaboration with the web stores that had been involved in the development process. In 2013, it was time to put the RePack concept to the test and see what the customers at one of these web stores, Globe Hope, thought of it. And it turned out that they loved the idea! “They gave RePack an average score of 9.5 out of 10. That’s when we knew we had struck the right chord”, says Hellgren. However, the package – made of cardboard at the time – wasn’t durable enough for reuse. Today, the RePacks are made of the same material as IKEA’s bags: sturdy, yet lightweight and 100% recyclable when it’s worn out once and for all. A RePack returned via mail causes 80% less CO2 emissions than manufacturing a new one.
Focus on Circular & Sustainable Fashion
“We learned a lot during the first years”, says Hellgren. “The concept was more than well received and it was obvious we had invented something the world needed. We needed to narrow down our business scope, so we ditched design projects and focused on RePack. The basic RePack is best suitable for packaging textiles and other goods that don’t break, so the fashion and home textile industry was where we had the best potential to grow. We were incredibly lucky with our next customer being army and navy surplus shop Varusteleka, one of the most popular web stores in Finland and with a reputation of doing things differently. With Varusteleka, RePack took a massive development leap, and soon other companies followed.”
Several packaging designs and service iterations later, RePack is now in use in Finland, Sweden, Denmark, Germany and the Netherlands in over 30 European web stores, growing quickly and currently preparing to expand outside of the EU as well. Unsurprisingly, many of the brands that have joined the RePacking movement are brands that cherish sustainable values themselves, such as Finnish brands Finlayson and Arela, Swedish Filippa K, and Dutch Mud Jeans, to name a few. “Simplicity and sustainability are our core values, and RePack combines two of them beautifully”, says Viivi Arela from arelastudio.com.
Circular economy brought to the consumer level
The RePack team has also been eager to find new innovative and meaningful cooperation models with their customers and partners. Their textile waste takeback campaigns with the textile company Finlayson is a great example, where the idea of circular economy is brought to everyday life through upcycling. During the campaign weeks, customers can send their worn-out bed linen and towels to Finlayson in RePacks posted to them free of charge. They have been rewarded with a generous discount voucher, and Finlayson turns the textile into beautiful rug rags and other upcycled products. Next up is towels made of recycled jeans!
Circularity means having a social impact too
Sustainability isn’t just about the environment – there’s a social aspect as well. To handle their logistics, the RePack team has recently started working with Seesam Pro, a cooperation with a great social impact; RePack’s Nordic return centre is a place where people with disabilities, addictions or other challenges can rehabilitate to working life. “We wanted a partnership with a purpose”, says Hellgren. “When we visited Seesam Pro, we felt that we had found it. We believe that RePack as a business can be a force of good, not just for the environment but the society as a whole.”
RePack is gaining momentum
The RePack team is dedicated to outdating disposable packaging for good, and the feedback they get from users proves they are on the right track: sustainable shopping from order to delivery, easy to return, and on top of it all you’re rewarded. Obviously, their work hasn’t gone unnoticed. Finland’s packaging association awarded them with an innovation prize in 2013, and in 2014 they were the first startup ever to win the Fennia prize, Finland’s most prestigious design prize. This was followed by the Green Alley in Germany, White Bull in Barcelona, EU’s Climate KIC Nordic Winner in 2015 and Werkstatt nomination by Germany’s sustainable development council in 2016 and 2017. The team has grown from three co-founders to 10 people, and RePack and recently entered Finnish innovation fund Tekes’s NIY-program for fast scaling Finnish innovations.
See which brands are already repacking on www.originalrepack.com or if your favourite brand isn’t on the list, why not tip them off?