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 and the receiver, and worked on the perfect reusable box. At the end of the course we had become a great team and were eager to test our idea in real conditions. 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, an economic price, and space-saving storage. What if we could even use that conventional box for a multiple-use system?

The experiment

To get to the bottom of that question we launched our WeRePack Experiment in spring and summer 2019. How many shipping cycles could the box take? We sent our box on a journey throughout Germany to find out.

The box could take 10 cycles! We realized that the box’s quality is way too good to simply throw it away after using it only one single time. 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! Many online shoppers confirmed that they are annoyed by packing waste and they are happy to receive their deliverment in pre-used packages. Our idea for WeRePack was born: a concept to simply implement a multiple-use shipment system into the e-commerce order process.