RePack is one of those start ups and products that you might go a long time without hearing about, but when you get your hands on what they have made you can’t help but be impressed by their quiet innovation. While you might not have heard of them the simple solution they devised for reducing waste in the area of product shipping has already been receiving recognition. Last year they won the innovation award at Pactec, Finland’s packaging association, and now to kick 2014 off in style they’ve gone and won the Fennia Prize. A competition organized by the design promotion organization Design Forum Finland, the Fennia Group and Elo, which is awarded every other year and one of the biggest design competitions in Finland.
So what’s the deal with RePack? Well the team originally set out to encourage Finnish companies to design sustainable products with new business models but were challenged to create something themselves as a concrete example of what they meant. That led them to work with their customers in the field of logistics, cleantech and consumer products, working on new projects and spending a lot of time observing and learning what their needs and problems were. That lead them to an idea, which grew to become RePack.
Essentially what they realised is that with online sales continuing to grow as more people shop from the comfort of their own homes, the amount of packaging required grows with it and while a lot of packaging is recyclable, constantly having to breakdown and rebuild materials like cardboard still uses up energy and generates waste. The RePack solution is to send products in packaging that can be easily flat packed and returned through the post. When a product order is placed you can select to have it sent in RePack packaging, you pay a small deposit fee for this, but when it is returned the customer gets their deposit back.
The ability to return the packaging allows it to be reused many times, saving on the cost of making more packaging and the work required to recycle used packaging. It also provides a benefit for the customer since they will have less waste in get rid of themselves. One of their partners, Global Hope, is a Finnish ecological fashion and design company and every one of their packages is made from old advertising posters. While another partner, Varusteleka, is Europe’s biggest army and outdoor store and they appear to be using tougher weave packaging in keeping with an outdoor styling, as seen in the opening photo.
RePack now hope to spread the word of their innovation and bring in many other online stores as partners building an efficient and waste free logistical solution to online shopping and shipping.