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Interviews

Making Zero Waste, Reusable Packaging for E-Commerce Stores with RePack

"Don't do nothing because you can't do everything." RePack's business developer, Clémence Avignon, discusses how to adapt online shopping to fit our sustainable future.

By

Le

on

October 9, 2019

About RePack

RePack is a reusable packaging company that helps e-commerce companies do their part in transforming the online shopping experience into a sustainable process with minimal waste. It incentivizes both the brand and the shopper to take part in circulating existing packaging instead of producing one-use plastic and cardboard packaging. Recently, they've taken on H&M as one of their newest, largest clients to collaborate on sustainability and reducing packaging waste

Their process is simple. Companies sign up for RePack’s reusable packaging and ship their products in it for a set fee. Customers receive their package and return the RePack bags in the mail. Packaging is designed to be folded into the size of a letter, and shipping bags back to RePack is always free and pre-addressed. Bags go back to RePack to be checked for quality, and RePack sends companies more packaging as they need it.

In addition, customers get rewarded each time they return an empty bag to RePack. They earn points to donate to charity or for the store’s loyalty program, which also increases ROI and customer loyalty. Companies never have to worry about packaging costs again since RePack is delivered as a service, but even more so, RePack’s reusable packaging is trash-free and reduces CO2 emissions by up to 80% compared to one-use packaging.

The Good Startup’s Interview with Clémence Avignon, Business Developer at RePack

Can you briefly walk through any of the economic savings and environmental benefits of someone using RePack?

"First of all, a returned RePack always reduces trash and removes the need to make a new single-use bag or a box. It's designed to last at least 20 cycles and has a return rate of 75%. It is returned in a letter size envelope. Based on International Postal Company data, the carbon footprint of sending a letter has a carbon footprint of 37 grams of CO2 per shipment.

On average, manufacturing a new plastic bag has a carbon footprint of about 6 kilograms of CO2 per kilogram of plastic. The carbon footprint of a plastic bag varies, but in general, the best-case scenario for a plastic bag is 200 gCO2 and about 100 gCO2 per cardboard box.

Returned RePack has up to 80% less CO2 emissions than single-use packaging, and the more return cycles RePack gets, the better it is for the environment.”

Fast Facts About RePack’s Environmental Impact:

  • RePack reduces the carbon footprint by up to 80% compared to disposable packaging.
  • After just the second reuse, RePack’s carbon footprint breaks-even with disposable packaging.
  • After 20 reuses, RePack reduces up to 96% of total packaging waste!
  • Up to 60% of RePack vouchers are claimed by customers to use towards future shopping with corresponding brands, further increasing average order values and customer lifetime value.

According to Avignon, communicating with their packaging’s end-users is the most crucial step because returning the packaging is why RePack works.

“RePack is hand-made from recycled PP, same as the blue Ikea bag. RePack is manufactured in China, and while the manufacturing has a bigger CO2 impact than single-use packaging, the return method makes RePack unbeatable in environmental performance, both in reducing CO2 but also trash.

At the end of the cycle, RePack is recycled as material. Currently, we use the material to make new prototypes and samples for new designs and in the long-term, we create upcycled products from old RePacks because we believe RePack material is more valuable as new products than in material recycling. After all, only 40% of the packaging material in EU is actually recycled.

We have built RePack because we believe prevention and reuse are the best options to reduce waste and are constantly improving our service to make it more sustainable, and I hope the world will join us in this reuse revolution."

What accomplishments has your company experienced so far, and what does the future look like for you?

“Our biggest accomplishment might be the way we actually touch people. Once RePack has touched you, you never go back to disposable packaging. RePack end-users don't just like the product; they love it. Webstores also love us. We give them a real sustainable solution.

RePack is proven to work on pilot scale with over 50 web-stores in 14 countries, and it keeps on growing. The future looks bright for reuse.”

What are your personal goals and how do they align with RePack's mission?

"I joined RePack because I genuinely believe in this as a great concrete solution to put an end to the path the world took towards trash."

“I am from France, and I was raised close to nature with my father, who was a farmer. I spent my youth surrounded by animals and a huge garden full of fresh fruits and vegetables. Waste was some kind of science-fiction word there since we used organic waste to feed the chickens, egg shells to feed the plants, recycled rainwater to irrigate the flowers, and cardboard boxes to build amusement parks for rabbits and cats.

When I was young, I already hated throwing away any material, and I convinced my dad to help me have a little milk business. It started because I saw how my dad was forced to throw away a part of his milk production every single week. I thought it was incredibly stupid. Then, every single Thursday, I would collect empty plastic water bottles from my neighbors and give them to my dad. He would clean them and fill them up every Friday evening with the fresh milk production from the farm. This milk would’ve been unsold and discarded otherwise. Instead, every Friday after school, I was bringing fresh milk to my neighbors for a few euros. Countryside economics!

It is when I moved to an urban city that I realized the amount of waste. I could not blame it on urban people since it is much more difficult to recycle and avoid trash in a city. Moving to Finland gave me more hope about the possibilities we had, through a circular economy but also with brilliant initiatives like Repack offers!

I truly am obsessed with sustainability, circular economy, and everything companies and people can achieve not only for their internal organizations but also (and even more so) for society. And I want to be a part of it. I joined RePack because I genuinely believe in this as a great concrete solution to put an end to the path the world took towards trash.”

Woman mailing RePack reusable packaging

What advice do you have for people who want to make a difference in this world?

“I would say it's important to not underestimate what you can do, and to never underestimate what your peers do. To anyone who went vegan but still orders at Starbucks, to anyone who recycles but still travels by plane, I want to say "you're awesome and thanks for caring!" Don't do nothing because you can't do everything.

So my advice for people who want to make a difference is to try your best, but not to aim for perfection. If you don't move because you're afraid to be imperfect, you just stagnate and it's way worse. Be imperfect, but be a part of the change, today.”

What's the best way someone reading this interview can help your company right now?

“Well, the best way to help RePack is to give a call to your favorite brands and convince them to go trash-free (and then to choose RePack as their sustainable solution!)”

Since 2011, RePack has been a part of reducing waste around the world. Help spread the word about RePack by letting e-commerce companies learn about affordable, sustainable packaging at originalrepack.com.

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Do Things Worth Doing.

The Good Startup is this ambiguous, awkward brand going through puberty right now. Rebellious, existential - but still a heart of gold - I have this weird hobby of designing ways to make your life better (and more badass) than it was before.