Packaging Matters



Phito by Kevin Dooley. Flickr

“As we were saying yesterday….”

On the first post about Reusable Packaging, I presented the four models of reuse:

Source: Reuse – Rethinking Packaging

On this post I’m going to comment on some relevant examples for these four models.

DW Reusables (Type: Return on the go)

DW Reusables  a long time manufacturer of returnable  beverage crates used in bars and restaurants, offers now returnable shelf-ready packaging products Shellbee and Food Fillbee

                                Shellbee (left) and Food Fillbee (right) by DW Reusables

More relevant to the topic of this post, they also have created Fillbee® a returnable four or six-drink pack carrier that can fit inside a beverage crate or used separately. The pack -along with the empty bottles- is to be returned to the store by the final consumer.

Loop (Type: Return from home)

Loop  is a global ,circular, shopping platform designed to eliminate waste by offering a range of reusable packaging for food, household, and personal care products that can be delivered directly to the consumer, and then collected for cleaning and reuse.

Source: Loop
Loop presence in the world. Source: Loop

Loop is currently available in the United Kingdom (where it has partnered with supermarket giant Tesco), France, and the United States. In 2021, Loop will continue expanding internationally with launches in Canada, Japan, Australia, and Germany.

Loop is possible thanks to the improvements in cleaning, logistics ,and materials. These improvements in technology make it possible for all types of goods to be available in refillable options and operate in global supply chain.

There are several major international brands developing Loop versions of their products, such as:  Häagen-DazsProcter & Gamble, Unilever

Examples of Unilever refillable packs for Loop

Repack (Type: Return from home)

RePack is a reusable and returnable packaging service, mentioned on the Packaging for E-commerce post.

Juha Mäkelä (RePack’s CHief Designer) had an epiphany. “We must apply the Finnish bottle deposit system to e-commerce packaging to reduce waste”.

E-commerce companies have to deal with vast quantities of card boxes in their warehouses and distribution centers, while consumers will throw the package away.

RePack reusable shipping envelopes function almost identically to single-use shipping envelopes, with the added benefit of having a unique sizing feature that reduces dead air space around items being shipped.

RePacks are reused 20+ times each and then upcycled at the end of their lifespan, and the company claims they can  can, claims Jonne, allow the company to reduce COemissions by up to 80%.RePacks have been fully approved for use by USPS, FedEx, UPS, DHL and most third party carriers.

This is how RePack works:

  1. Cycle Starts: The E-Commerce company purchases the RePacks of their choice.
  2. Offering: RePack replaces all of the company’s single-use packages, or this is offered as an option.
  3. Cost: RePack’s cost can be shared with the customer, making RePack cost-free for the company.
  4. Shipping: Purchased products are shipped to customers in RePack packages.
  5. Returning: The customer returns the empty packaging bag to RePack or uses it for product returns.
  6. Reward: RePack users can claim reward vouchers to spend on the company’s website again.
  7. Cycle Ends: RePacks are returned, cleaned, checked and made available to purchase again.
RePack cycle. Source: RePack

One of the more spectacular example is delivering by bike solid wood beds that weight over 60kg.

RePack packaging used for Kiezbett beds delivered by bike. Source:


Miwa  is a Czech company that supplies retailers with smart, reusable capsules which are pre-filled by the producer and sent for direct instalment in shops. Once emptied, they are returned to MIWA for cleaning and redistribution and the process starts again.

Of course , this is nothing new. Decades ago, it would have been the norm to bring your own containers to the shops.

MIWA’s difference resides in technology, according to MIWA‘s website: “MIWA has developed a circular system of capsules, which are filled and sealed by the supplier, and the store puts them directly into a smart modular stand. There is no need to open the capsules, thus risking contamination or shortening the expiration. The capsules are equipped with smart labels, which, when the capsule gets placed into the modular stand, automatically transfer detailed product information into the stock system.”

Here’s an example for Nestlé coffee products:


Most cleaning products have a very high water content and a repackaged in single use containers.

Replenish has created a customizable bottling platform for concentrates that can be used by any FMCG brand: a reusable, durable spray bottle that attaches to pods containing liquid concentrates for cleaning and. Alongside this, it has launched Clean Revolution for Amazon.

Replenish combines a refill (twist-on concentrate) pod with a reusable bottle (made from PET-1 the most-recyclable type of plastic) that has a built in measuring cup to make mixing concentrates easy.

This considerably reduces the materials to be transported, since only 5% of the weight of your typical spray bottle is the actual active ingredient; the rest is plastic and water, needlessly adding to the carbon footprint.

Here’s a video showing how it works.


It seems that sustainability and specifically circular economy will be driving a transformational change in the packaging industry.

It also seems that many solutions will contribute to this end, and many factors need to be considered  to create a circular economy with packaging, such as:

  • Increased packaging recyclability (both in design and materials)
  • Policies that facilitate packaging collection and sorting, especially for plastics
  • Infrastructure that enables the production of high-quality recyclate from both post-industrial and post-consumer waste

In closing, I’d like to share a table that sums up the different types of reusable packaging.

Source:  Sustainability of reusable packaging–Current situation and trends

December 2020,  Bruno Rey – The Packaging Blog –

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