Sustainable fashion aims to close the loop on delivery packaging.
A new delivery service is ditching cardboard packaging in favour of tote bags to take sustainable fashion up a notch. And brands such as Adidas, Anthropologie, Everlane, Hugo Boss, and Outdoor Voices have already signed up.
As well as reducing the amount of packaging needing to be recycled, the new app, called Olive, will tackle emissions by consolidating multiple deliveries into one consignment.
Since the start of the global pandemic, many consumers have had to move their purchasing online. However, even before March 2020, stats on packaging waste in the US alone make frightening reading. 2015 data from the Environmental Protection Agency found that 23% of landfill waste came from containers and packaging. This number has increased since 2018 when China blocked further imports of US plastics for recycling.
Equally, shoppers now expect immediacy with their purchase. For example, Amazon accounts for approximately 40% of online sales in the US. Amazon Prime’s USP is next day delivery but this often means multiple deliveries to the same address in one day. Moreover, 75% of carbon emissions attributed to e-commerce come from the “last mile” of delivery, according to Olive founder Nate Faust.
“The real power comes in the last mile to the consumer’s doorstep, where so much of the emissions in the post-purchase supply chain come from,” he said. “Largely because it’s an average of one box per stop on the delivery route.”
Olive’s USP is the tote bag. The company consolidates multiple purchases from different retailers into one delivery via a tote that is also used for returns. Jet.com founder Faust had the idea when spending too much time crushing cardboard delivery boxes to fit into his recycling bin.
“It’s crazy that we’re 25 years into e-commerce and the status quo delivery experience is still billions of shipments a year sent in single-use, one-way packaging,” he explains to the Washington Post. “Not only is it a terrible thing for the environment, but it’s also a huge customer pain point.”
Olive is also free to consumers, making money by taking a 10% cut of each sale. Currently, the company has two “consolidation centers” — one in Southern California and another in Northern New Jersey. This allows it to serve about one-third of the US.
Thinking Outside The Cardboard Box
Olive isn’t the only initiative attempting to make the delivery process more sustainable. Nestle, Unilever and Proctor & Gamble are among 70 brands who use Loop’s reusable glass and steel containers to deliver direct to customers.
“Loop was designed from the ground up to reinvent the way we consume by leveraging the sustainable, circular milkman model of yesterday with the convenience of e-commerce,” Tom Szaky, Loop founder, said in a news release.
Another sustainable delivery platform is Boox, currently used by Ren Skincare, Boyish Jeans and Curio Spice Co. The reusable boxes are made from recycled cardboard and fastened with velcro. This means they can be used up to 12 times.
“The folding cardboard box was invented 120 years ago and hasn’t changed much since then. But the way we receive packages and products has changed wildly over the last 10 or 20 years,” Boox founder Matt Semmelhack states in a Washington Post interview. “The grand vision is to never throw a box away and never make a new one. But first we need to show that behavioural change is possible.”
Read here about how one brand is turning trash into luxury fashion.