How did you come up with this innovation?
"We got the idea for RePack while working with the Finnish postal service Posti. We saw the enormous volume of packages flowing through their logistics centre, and all of them were single-use. This made us think whether the environmentally friendly deposit-based return system for bottles could be applied to packages.
An online purchase in a RePack benefits everyone. The customer receives the delivery and returns the package to the nearest post box. The package is checked and then reused. The customer is rewarded a discount code that can be used in any online shop using RePacks. In the end, he or she saves money, the online retailer gets a returning customer, and waste is minimised.
We started to develop the reusable package together with Varusteleka, one of the most respected Finnish online shops. We found it great that Varusteleka wanted to jump onboard even before we had a concrete solution. The product was still at the idea level. Now, RePack is being used in more than 40 online retailers in 10 different countries."
What have been some defining steps for your business?
"The City of Helsinki supports start-up companies by offering workspaces, for example. It is amazing that the city has, for instance, invested in the Maria 01 start-up complex where we also have an office.
The city creates resources and helps companies develop. I have no experience of setting up a company elsewhere, but I believe it is quite rare that the city gets so involved. In addition, start-up entrepreneurship is very communal in Helsinki.
We have won several awards. It feels great to gain recognition. We are the first start-up company to be awarded the Fennia Prize, a prestigious design award. In 2017, we also picked up the Nordic Council Environment Prize, the biggest environmental award in the Nordic region."
What is the significance of your innovation?
"The circular economy and waste reduction will be major topics for all of humanity in the future. We want to introduce our product loud and proud to the whole world, starting in Europe and the Nordic countries. We want to set an example to others. We are the first to bring reusable packaging to the world of online retail.
Megatrends speak for our thinking. Online retail is a field of significant annual growth. At the same time, single-use objects are less popular, and for instance the EU has started to guide legislation in this direction by banning single-use products."
RePack is a returnable and reusable package for online retailers and their customers. The packages come in three sizes and are intended to be used at least 20 times. The RePack innovation reduces the amount of waste produced by online retailers. RePack also reduces carbon emissions derived from packages by as much as 80 percent.