Booming e-commerce has a waste problem
Let's see how Olive, Boox and noissue are solving it
If you’ve been ordering a lot of stuff online in the past year, you’re not alone. COVID-19 has changed e-commerce forever.
Digital sales increased by 71% and 55% in Q2 & Q3 of 2020 respectively. 241 million tons of shipping cartons, cardboard mailers, void-fill wrappers, and paper-based packaging is created every year from 3 billion trees.
When it comes to plastic packaging, only 14% of it is recycled. Thinking what happens to the rest of it? Well, they end up in landfills, incinerators or our oceans.
If Nathan Faust, Matt Semmelhack and Josh Bowden & Augie Gruar had shrugged it off as someone else’s problem, these 3 startups would never have been founded⬇️
📦Reducing the cardboard clutter
The two-day shipping trend…Getting things delivered to your doorstep is definitely convenient. There are items(like medicines) for which two-day deliveries make sense but do we really need those books, toys and clothes to be delivered quickly? Even if we have the right intention and order multiple items together to reduce the carbon footprint, we feel helpless when we get those piecemeal deliveries.
A convenient and sustainable alternative…Through his latest venture Olive, serial entrepreneur Nathan Faust wants to change consumer behaviour from two-day shipping to consolidated deliveries.
Through an app and a chrome extension, consumers can combine their purchases from hundreds of retailers in a single shipment, which is delivered on a fixed weekly delivery day.
Retailers send bulk shipments (containing multiple orders) to Olive’s warehouse where they are held and combined into a weekly shipment for consumers.
If a consumer wants to return something, they can put the items back in the same box, which is picked up on the delivery day.
A lower environmental impact… Olive’s process reduces the number of boxes and the multiple ‘truck trips’ made to a consumer’s house. To further reduce its footprint, Olive wants to use reusable containers (instead of boxes) to ship items between retailers and its sorting facility.
📦Boox- The box you don’t throw away
Brown trash…It just takes minutes to set up a professional ecommerce shop these days, thanks to Shopify(platform), Stripe and Paypal(payments) and numerous services that can deliver the goods within days. The consequence is that our homes, bins, trucks, and landfills are literally overflowing with cardboard boxes. ~165 billion packages are shipped in the US alone. The majority of GenZ and millennials are revolting against this and identify more with sustainable brands.
Reuse and reduce… Founder Matt Semmelhack’s vision at Boox is to never throw a box away and never make a new one. Their 1st product is a reusable box (a boox!) and is designed to be shipped dozens of times back and forth, before reaching the end of life.
Customers can return or exchange their products in the same box, or they can flatten it into an envelope and return it by mail to Boox for reuse.
The Boox is quarantined for a week and cleaned using organic soap and water before being reused for more deliveries
At the end of its life, it’s broken into plastic flakes and turned into more boxes.
For the same amount of resources that go into the production of the product, a Boox can be used 10+ times. It limits 90%+ of the waste that would be created by cardboard boxes, and reduce overall impact by 75%+ compared to single-use packaging.
Virtual storefront within the boox…There’s a QR code inside the Boox that leads to a customized, branded experiential marketing moment. This will replace printed cards & brochures and will create a virtual storefront replacing the experience of going into a store and chatting with a salesperson. The bright-coloured reusable boxes have been adopted by ~30 retailers in the beauty, cosmetics and fashion space.
📦Sustainable, affordable custom packaging option
Do we have a deal?… Brands, especially smaller ones, often struggle to find a sustainable packaging vendor. They need someone who can offer branded and sustainable solutions without asking for an exorbitant minimum order quantity (MOQ). Needless to mention, they should be cost-effective as well.
We are onto something… For their other business, the team at noissue was struggling with the same problem- finding a sustainable, branded packaging option within their budget. And when they didn’t find anything, they decided to create one for themselves and for all other businesses (small-sized to enterprise). From stickers and tapes to cards and boxes, businesses across the world can order packaging material in a few clicks-
Businesses can choose the size and quantity of the product
They can then upload their designs on the website
And voilà, c’est fini
An eco-friendly option… Their tissue paper is completely acid-free and made of wood pulp sourced from sustainably-managed forests. Also, it’s printed with soy-based ink which is a sustainable alternative to traditional petroleum-based ink. The team believes that sustainable packaging doesn't have to be unattainable. And if you’re wondering why the name ‘noissue’, it’s because they are eliminating the unnecessary issues that can crop up with custom production.
😲 Eye Openers
These articles changed my perspective about packaging waste. Let me know your thoughts on them-
Lesser of the two evils- Deciding between Plastic and Cardboard packaging
An enormous footprint- The plastic packaging waste created by Amazon, in the form of air pillows alone, would circle the Earth more than 500 times
The packaging madness- To make the products look prettier, product designers are creating the problem of ‘over-packaging’
🤝Keeping my promise
In the last edition, I had promised that every time the newsletter is shared, I would plant a tree. Here’s me sticking to it-
Share this newsletter in your network and I would continue planting more trees 🙂
🙏 I would love to get some feedback. What do you think about this edition?
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🤝🏽 Let’s connect on LinkedIn and Twitter.