Our project, packaging with a positive impact.

Why RePack, what's our impact, and where are we heading?

Let's answer your questions.
It starts with a problem: the linear model still rules

No matter if it’s made of plastic, cardboard, or corn-starch, single-use follows the linear model “take it, make it, waste it”.
The solution is to close the loop
This concept is called the circular economy and aims at switching from a linear model to a circular one, based on 3 principles:

  • design out waste and pollution
  • keep products and materials in use
  • regenerate natural systems.
Waste Hierarchy
By manufacturing products that are durable and reusable, the amount of waste generated as well as CO2 emissions are considerably reduced.

Secondly, reuse saves resources and removes the need to go through polluting waste management process, like energy recovery or recycling.

So we decided to apply that to packaging.
What about recycling?
Yes sure, a part of this waste goes into a recycling process, but it is opaque and only 9% of all plastic waste ever produced has been recycled. About 12% has been incinerated, while the rest — 79% — has accumulated in landfills, dumps, or the natural environment.
It is simply not enough.
This very low percentage can partly be attributed to the complex and expensive process of collecting and sorting waste, transportation, treatment, and remanufacturing.

This inefficient model generates billions of tons of trash that go to landfills, not to mention the CO2 that is released into the atmosphere.
Canada is a good example: until recently, Canadians relied on recycling to manage the mountains of trash, but that took an apparent U-turn.

After the news that the country was sending vast amounts of its recyclable waste overseas, people’s trust got lost.

Hard to know what happens to what you put in the blue bin, right?
“If present trends continue, by 2050, there will be 12 billion metric tons of plastic in landfills.

That amount is 35,000 times as heavy as the Empire State Building.”

Our RePack Model
The solution is simple: a circular model in which waste simply does not exist.
Packaging is used & reused, over and over.
Convenient and circular system
We have made returning the empty RePack packaging as easy as possible. RePack users simply fold and drop the empty bag to a postbox, anywhere in the world. We take it back, check, clean and redistribute it for reuse.

Reuse VS Single-use
RePack's manufacturing has a bigger CO2 impact than most single-use packaging plastic bags and cardboard boxes, but the return method makes RePack unbeatable in environmental performance, both in reduced CO2 but also trash.

For every returned RePack, we remove the need to manufacture a new packaging, and the need to manage its waste.

RePack is returned to reuse in letter size. Based on International Postal Company data sending a letter has a carbon footprint of 36 grams of CO2 per shipment - the equivalent of an e-mail with a large attachment.

It's a super simple solution to reduce trash and CO2 emissions.
A Design Story
Awards in Design. Awards in Sustainability
Not to brag but our team is filled with design and sustainability experts, and our work with RePack has been recognized by some of the best organizations in the world:

2021German Design Award - German Design Council
2020German Sustainability Award – Deutsche Nachhaltigkeitspreis
2019Circular Economy Honorary mention - Sitra & Excellence Finland
2019eDelivery Barcelona - Startup competition Winner
2018The Circulars – World Economic Forum, Davos
2017Werkstatt - German Government
2017Nordic Council of Ministers Environment Prize
2017Design Intelligence Award – China Academy of Arts
2016Werkstatt - German Government
2015Climate KIC Nordic Venture Cup Winner
2015White Bull Award – Spain
2014Fennia Prize Winner – Finland’s Most prestigious design prize
2014Slush Top 100 Finalist
2014Green Alley Winner – Germany
2013PacTec – Finland – Packaging Innovation Award – Finnish Packaging Association
Moving forward, responsibly
As we grow, we think it's important to really understand the impact we’re having on society, both on the micro and macro levels.

Once we have this in mind, we can create a roadmap to grow while being accountable for all the negative stuff we can’t avoid, and even more, improving our positive impact.
Understanding our impact
To understand RePack’s impact, you have to look at it from two scales, small scale when you compare it to single-use packaging, and large scale when you measure the overall impact on society (ouuuhh, big words here).
Packaging to packaging
Small scales allow us to compare reuse & single-use, bag to bag - it’s pretty concrete. For this, we use LCA (life-cycle assessment). You can consult our study here, emphasizing that after the second use only, RePack is already better than single-use packaging.
We’re aiming at a more in-depth LCA that we can use as a tool. This way, we will be able to understand the real impact of any tweak in our model. Is decreasing transportation really decreasing emissions? Should we change this material for this one? Data will say!

For example, you’d be surprised that transportation has a marginal impact compared to the choice of the material and their supply chain.

Those comparisons and LCA tools are super helpful and necessary, but in order to have the complete picture, it needs to be combined with a broader view of our impact.
Societal change
If you zoom-out on a large scale, you can start thinking about the impact of what we do on society as a whole. How are we impacting behavioural change from people, brands, regulations? Oh boy, it gets complicated, but we can try.

In a way, RePack is still at its early stage, so of course, we did not get everything right just yet. The good news is that we have a lot of room for improvement. When it comes to the single-use industry, no matter how hard they try or how high-tech they go, there’s a point where the negative impact cannot be reduced any longer.

To understand this big-picture-stuff, we teamed up with The Upright Project. Their goal is to quantify companies’ net impact on people, planet, society and knowledge.
We swear it’s not that complex to grasp, but give it a minute. Basically, they gather all the negative and the positive impact a company or a product has, both upstream and downstream. They mix it up and come up with a “net impact”. And when we say "they", we mean an algorithm computing millions of scientific articles.

"We only concentrate on the largest impacts a company has on the surrounding world. It’s the only way to stop losing sight of the Tier 1 priorities in Tier 2-10 data. Also, it’s a great way to stay sane. Practical example: for an oil company, we don’t care whether or not they use recycled office paper.”

The Upright Project
RePack's Net Impact
What you can see here is that our reusable packaging service has both positive and negative impacts. But what’s important is that our net impact is positive, in opposition to single-use packaging.

Keep in mind that the Upright Model is improving day after day, as we speak. We do believe we have a bigger impact on creating and distributing knowledge.

When we started in 2011, discussions about the environment and social impact of packaging fell on deaf ears. After years of constantly repeating what we believe in, it’s starting to pay off.
What about the negative impact we can not avoid?
As you see in the Upright Project report, we still have an impact on the environment. Of course - we’re a business after all and businesses have an impact on the environment. Consuming is not a carbon neutral activity and stating otherwise is, well, pretty misleading.
We're not carbon neutral.
Since the 2015 United Nations Climate Change Conference, COP 21, more and more firms are communicating about their “carbon neutral” strategies. Most of the time it implies carbon compensation programs, but not necessarily a real trajectory of meeting the 1.5 scenario.
The risk is that counting on carbon compensation programs only to meet this scenario could slow down the actual fight against climate change.

This is not to say that carbon offset projects should stop, quite the opposite. But..

Today, carbon compensation programs are based on market mechanisms. Unfortunately, a ton of carbon is priced at $10 per ton when it should be at least $40-80 per ton to start being effective.

Second issue, according to an analysis by the Öko-Institut, dating from 2016, 85% of the projects studied also had a low probability of achieving the promised emission reductions.
“If we are serious about averting catastrophic planetary changes, we need to reduce emissions by 45 percent by 2030. Trees planted today can’t grow fast enough to achieve this goal.

And carbon offset projects will never be able to curb the emissions growth, while reducing overall emissions, if coal power stations continue to be built and petrol cars continue to be bought, and our growing global population continues to consume as it does today.”

So we decided to go our own way.
We have decided to work harder on our carbon emissions’ accountability (yes, we won’t use the word compensation, we’re like that).

To mitigate the direct carbon emissions we cannot yet avoid, we will set the price per ton based on the experts' recommendations, including the Nobel Prize winner Joseph Stiglitz, the well-known climate economist Nicholas Stern, and the IPCC’s reports.

We aim to fund high quality carbon reduction/capture projects in support of the global transition to a low carbon economy. For this, we will partner with the Baltic Sea Action Group, who aims at restoring the Baltic Sea, regenerating ecosystems, and pushing for regulation.
Scaling Reuse Properly
Only once we have a clear vision of our impact, both the negative and positive, can we confidently start to scale. We identified 4 building blocks of the RePack model where we can focus our efforts to reduce our impact:
We are currently using recycled polypropylene from post-consumer waste to create our packaging. The design in itself is made to mimic the gesture of single-use packaging to ease the adoption by the logistic partners of our customers. It’s pretty good already, but we’re not sitting on our butt, we can still improve the design to minimize waste to 0.
Our current model where packaging is systematically returned to our hub, means the need for transport. It’s already better than single-use, but we can still improve. We can mitigate the impact of transportation in two ways (or both): developing multiple return hubs to reduce distances and/or rely on vehicles exclusively fueled by renewable energy.
Number of cycles per bag
This touches consumer behavior. For a product so widely linear, it's a challenge to understand consumer behavior when it comes to packaging disposal. How to control that the packaging will be returned? We’re currently conducting interviews with end-users to understand all of this.
End of life
We have several upcycling projects on the radar. For starters, some upcycled RePacks designed by Aalto International are already available on the shelves of Selfridges! To diversify, we’re always looking for more partners to create high-value products. Right now, 3 candidates are promising: laptop, tablet sleeves, passport covers..
Can’t wait to share more!