When we send products to our dealers (shops), we use old boxes as much as possible (those used to ship our products from Vietnam, but also those from other brands - when they consent).
However, sending online orders (through our website or marketplaces) proves more complicated. One, we need a specific size (to fit just one a bag). Two, you would probably prefer to receive your €130 bag in something other than a beat-up cardboard box with another brand's logo…
So we decided to use new boxes (or plastic envelopes for accessories) to ship your orders. And even then, our logistics center took the initiative to replace all plastic tape with kraft tape. In an perfect world, everyone would reuse these boxes after receiving a package, but in the end, most people recycle (like for Vinted shipments) or even just throw them away (for those who are too lazy to go to the recycling center…).
We then heard about RePack, reusable envelopes that can be returned by mail, the idea seemed great: 80% less CO2, no waste, and getting consumers involved in the sustainability process, since it is the consumer who has to drop off the envelope at the nearest mailbox.
However, in the end, we found very little information, especially regarding the logistics center(s) for reconditioning the envelopes. We heard Eastern European countries mentioned at one point, but it was never very clear or transparent. So for our shipments in France (90% of our online revenues), it didn't seem reasonable to have send the packaging back over such a long distance.
We then heard about the French startup Hipli. The same concept of reusable packaging, but this time located in… France! In addition, we found their approach very transparent. The first series of envelopes were made in China, but the next batch will be made in Europe. Their logistics center (where the envelopes get a makeover after each return) is located in Le Havre in Normandy. Take a look at their site, there is plenty of info, especially on their page “we designed a package".
In addition, they went all out, taking the time to carefully analyze the potential and make sure that their concept was a good idea. The complete life cycle analysis of their product is available on their website. For example, they realized that it was better to use Polypropylene, which is stronger than recycled PET. This is why Hipli packages can be reused a hundred times compared to “only” twenty for RePack (made from recycled PET). In addition, at the end of its life, the Polypropylene will also be recycled in France.
The one small drawback: for the time being Hipli only offers three sizes, and our Squamish backpack has a hard time fitting into their size L envelope. We anxiously await the release of a size XL!
However, logically, and as soon as our export volumes increase enough, we will also use the RePack solution for all shipments in Germany, the Benelux, and Scandinavian countries. Or those identical solutions we find in each country.
How does it work?
This concept will only work if everyone participates. Customers have to make the effort to return the envelopes. Even with a customer loss rate (i.e. when you throw it away instead of sending it back) as high as 62-64% (depending on the size), these envelopes will still have a lower environmental footprint than cardboard packaging.
In terms of cost, we have to pay a much higher price than for traditional envelopes. They cost between €2,10 and €2,50 each (depending on the size). This price takes into account manufacturing the envelope (intended for a hundred uses), the RFID chip to track each rotation, the return postage (empty) to the logistics center, reconditioning, storage… This economic model only works if the envelope is returned and reused.
Child's play. Hipli, like RePack, have planned everything to facilitate the return of envelopes and thus minimize the “loss” rate. To do this, simply follow the instructions, fold the envelope and drop it in any post office box. You don't have to pay anything, just travel!
Nevertheless, to make sure that you participate, we decided to ask you to make small contribution of €1 to help us with this approach. First, we let you choose the type of packaging when placing your order. However, in due time, we will probably make reusable packing systematic. To do this, we still have to convince our logistics center to use this kind of packaging. For the time being, we prepare all orders sent in Hipli envelopes at our offices in Annecy, and then send them by DPD predict or Colissimo.