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Can the future of reusable packaging?


Reusable packaging company Box seeks to be part of a larger movement to make shipping more circular and sustainable.

Petaluma, California, provides its reusable plastic Boox Box boxes and nylon or polyester Baags as a service to companies that want to be able to cut shipping-related waste.

Yes FreightWaves’ Event The future of supply chains in northwestern Arkansas on Monday and Tuesday FreightWaves asked Matt Zemmelhack, CEO and co-founder of Boox, about the future of packaging.

Asked whether the packaging will be reusable in the future, he replied: “We are certainly betting on it. … I think it’s a matter of time.

“The future is the moment when you suddenly stop getting cardboard boxes because it works better. And it is possible, but it will take time to achieve this in terms of consumer behavior, “said Zemmelhack.

A few things to keep in mind when reusable:

  • Waste.
  • Greenhouse gas emissions.
  • Price.
  • Consumer behavior.
  • Customer loyalty.

Packaging waste against emissions

Many reusable packaging solutions are heavier than their disposable cardboard or plastic counterparts, which can increase emissions during transportation. This is the main argument against reusable packaging for shipment.

(Photo: Boox)

It’s hard to make a mail bag lighter, cheaper and more durable than plastic, but the world is getting cluttered with plastic. Boags ’Baags are heavier than plastic mail, so the associated emissions for transportation are higher. However, they could be used “hundreds of times easily”, which could be reduced plastic wastesaid Semmelhak.

Boxes ’boxes lifted that compromise. A life cycle analysis Zemmelhack said that for a box of the same size Boox is 44% lighter than regular cardboard. This will reduce transport-related emissions.

According to the analysis, given the return road the effect from using Box Box 10 times is 70% less than from using 10 cardboard boxes.

But the reuse of delivery boxes and bags largely depends on the actions of consumers. For this to be cost-effective and environmentally sustainable, consumers need to return their boxes and bags to one of the 5000-6000 Boox partner dispensing locations.

Read: Pack, Ship, Reuse: How Boox Plans to Develop Circular DTC Delivery

Consumer behavior, value and loyalty

“We need to create a way for consumers to be able to participate in the service. It should be convenient, cost-effective for everyone involved, and it should not be too far beyond what you do every day, ”Zemmelhak said.

He said Boox boxes can be reused and recycled more than 12 times, and bags can be reused hundreds of times. But consumers will demand their return, which could be a problem.

(Photo: Boox)

The total return of Boox is estimated at 20-30%. For some brands it is above 65% or 75%, depending on how the brand educates its customers.

The return rate is “very clearly correlated” with how many brands it takes time to explain to their customers the reasons for the move and how to return boxes or bags.

Because companies are committed to sustainability, Semmelhak said, “it’s unacceptable to assume that running sustainable things will cost you money. In the end, it will not allow systemic change. “

He added that some companies have small margins, strict budgets or shareholders who will not be allowed to switch to more sustainable packaging if it costs more.

The Boox website says it costs from 40 cents to $ 1.40 per shipment, depending on size.

Zemmelhack said Boox boxes are often cheaper than cardboard, about the same or 3-5% more expensive. “In many cases, Boox boxes not only pay for themselves, but also bring income to our customers through compliance and loyalty.”

Shipping in reusable containers can create a higher level of compliance and brand loyalty. Zemmelhack said Boox sometimes calls to see which brands it works with, and these consumers will buy from these brands rather than competitors to avoid packaging waste.

Caleb Nelson, co-founder of the Technology and Data Company SiftedFreightWaves said it expects the cost of more sustainable packaging solutions, such as reusable ones, to decline as more consumers demand it.

“The need to be sustainable five years ago was not what it is today, and part of that is because consumers demand it,” Nelson said.

Potential for the circular economy through recommerce

Boox works with beauty brands like REN Clean Care and Saie and did pilot projects with Lululimon and Rotates.

Book also sends products for Boy’s jeans. The boy also works with The treeworking a recommerce platform directly on the Boyish website. Consumers can get a pair of jeans from Boyish in a Boox box and send used clothing to a company or directly to another consumer in the same box for reusability.

Read: Questions and Answers with a Resale Expert: The Future of Recommerce

Semmelhack said it could make the circular savings of reusable packaging even more sustainable and affordable if consumers would receive a Boox Baag or box with new items and use the same container to send used clothing items back through re-commerce.

(Photo: Boox)

“All the infrastructure is in place. In fact, it is only a matter of changing consumer behavior at this point. We have demonstrated that we can do it at a price. We have demonstrated that this makes consumers happy. We have shown that brands want that, ”Zemmelhak said.

Boox now operates in the US and the UK and has multiple shapes, sizes and colors of reusable shipping boxes.

Click here to get more articles about FreightWaves from Alice Sporer.

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