How can we solve the problem of increasing packaging waste caused by e-commerce? 2018 we started in a team of six to take on that challenge in a fellowship program by the Social Entrepreneurship Academy in Munich, Germany. We have different backgrounds from data science, engineering, web and graphics design to business, economics, and political science. Our common passion is to develop solutions for our society’s problems and challenges using entrepreneurial concepts.
Throughout the course we intensively worked on the idea of establishing a multiple-use system for e-commerce packaging boxes. We dived deep into the research of e-commerce logistics, took on the roles of the sender, receiver and even parcel deliverer, and worked on the perfect reusable shipping box. We had to go sure that we find the most impactful – not most fancy – solution, but the high-tech mutli-use packaging prototypes were very impressive, but would require tons of ressources for production and to reach a better environmental footprint as a a conventional packaging it would require a lot of lifecycles.
So while we did our prototyping of the reusable box we always came back to realizing that the conventional cardboard box was not so bad after all: The decisive criteria are light weight, robust, an economic price, and space-saving storage. Finally we had to ask ourselves: Is there really a need for another packaging solution? What if we could even use that conventional box for a multiple-use system? We had become a great team and were eager to test that idea in real conditions.
We launched our WeRePack Experiment in spring and summer 2019 with the question: How many shipping cycles could a conventional cardboard box take?
We sent our box on a journey throughout Germany to find out.
We bought postage, involved friends and family and sent our box from Munich to Berlin, from east to west, from north to south. And the box could easily withstand 10 cycles. We realized that even the conventional cardboard box’s quality is way too good to simply throw it away after using it only once. Maybe it doesn’t always have to be 10 times but even 2 or 3 cycles have the potential to reduce the packaging waste significantly!
Furtermore many online shoppers confirmed iin our surveys that they are annoyed by packing waste and they are happy to receive their deliverment in pre-used packages. So our idea for the WeRePack was born: a concept & initative to simply implement a multiple-use shipment system into the e-commerce order processes. And to to do awareness work for that very specific issue we want to solve.
We work on Impact
Thanks to participating websites that regularly share the number of their approvals for a reused packaging with us, we can roughly measure the ongoing impact of the initiative.
There are many ways to support the initiative. You could just talk about us, share the idea in your networks. Or you can ask your favorite shops to join the initative. If you are a developer and have some time left, we would like to adapt to other shop systems such as Magento & Shopify. You could also reach out and join the team. If you want to support us financally, become a patron and get listed in our Hall of Fame. Or write us a few words of encouragement. They always do good!