Zalando: pilot reusable packaging in the Nordics

September 17, 2019 by
Nico Hoeijmans

ZalandoZalando and Finnish startup RePack are testing with reusable packaging in the Nordics. For a period of four weeks, 10.000 customers living in Denmark, Finland, Norway and Sweden will receive their orders in reusable shipping bags. This way, the German fashion platform aims to reduce packaging waste.

As the environmental footprint and sustainability are increasingly more important in the online market, this test by Zalando fits a current trend. As it is other companies, the idea behind the Zalando-pilot is to use the same packaging repeatedly for shipping and returns and thus reduce the production of packaging. The fashion retailer believes that this way of packaging might soon become the new standard for shipping.

Change of packing experience

On the one hand, the unpacking experience will change. It is different from that of classic packaging. On the other hand, a more intensive engagement from the customer with the packaging is required. Even if customers do not want to return anything from their order, the packaging must still be returned. Uwe Streiber, Team Warehouse Consumables at Zalando, says: "To make the concept of reusable packaging scalable, the entire e-commerce industry is needed. It requires standardized processes and centralized delivery options for reusable packaging. Reusable packaging transforms material from waste to resource. A uniform system in which customers can return the packaging, for example to the supermarket, would make it easier for everyone." The fashion platform sees this as a cycle that works by customers folding up the envelope, attaching the return label to it and putting it in the mailbox. The bag goes back to a central location and is then brought to the fulfilment centre.

Sustainable reusable packaging

Earlier this year, Zalando announced more innovations in the field of sustainable packaging. Existing approaches, such as the use of boxes made from 100% recycled paper and mailing bags made from 80% post-consumer recycled (PCR) material, are accompanied by new goals, such as beauty bags converted from plastic to 100% recycled paper. At the same time, polybags (thin protective sleeves around the textiles) made from over 60% of recycled plastic were introduced. Zalando claims that these changes reduce the consumption of non-recycled plastic by approximately 625.6 tonnes compared to 2018.

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