Every year, an average consumer from Finland produces about 176 pounds of waste products. And with problems in waste management, the country was nowhere near in helping to curb the growing packaging waste problem in Europe. However, a Finnish start-up company aimed to help by removing packaging trash from the e-commerce industry. They have developed a brilliant solution by inventing a system of eco-friendly packaging. And the name of their project is RePack
RePack is a packaging system whereby packages can be returned and then re-used. The service is currently being used by online retailers in Finland. It’s an old concept, but only a few people are knowledgeable about it. They offer the convenience of returning the delivery packages via the local postal system. There is a return rate for each packaging sent, similar to the deposit system for recyclable bottles in Finland.
The RePack team’s original goal was to help Finnish companies to create innovative, sustainable products using new business models. Unfortunately, it was difficult for the team to persuade the companies. This led them to the creation of the RePack project.
“It would provide better customer experience, cost efficiency and reduce waste. Finland has a 98% return rate for bottles and cans and it is something we have taken inspiration from.”
So how does RePack work?
As people shop online and check out, they have an option to choose RePack instead of disposable packaging by paying a small amount. The end user can get back the fee whenever they mail the packaging back. No postage or stamp is required to do so. RePack flattens and folds nicely into letter size envelopes and can be returned via any local postal service in Europe.
Several online stores in Finland are already offering RePack services including GlobeHope, Pikkulinnun, and Varusteieka. The innovative concept gained popularity and recognition in the field of design and packaging. In 2014, RePack won the Fennia Prize – Finland’s most prestigious design competition.
Due to its innovative design and problem-solving cause, the product was an easy target for plagiarism. Yuchang Chou, a graduate from the Royal College of Art in London, claimed that he also developed a “return and reuse packaging system for small online retailers to reduce packaging waste”. The Royal College of Art is now closely investigating this claim because the idea parallels that of RePack’s.
“We take it as a compliment that our product has been copied, but at the same time we need to make it clear that our idea is the original one,” says Jonne Hellgren, managing director of RePack. “Chou has nothing to do with us.”
Growth and New Horizons
Jonne also noted that the RePack service can be useful for fashion e-retailers. In addition, they’re also exploring the possibility of working with furniture, electronics, and food companies to introduce these reusable packages to their existing business models. In March 2014, RePack started its move to expand to other markets by building a partnership with Docdata – a Dutch fulfillment company.
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