Online shopping is increasing and with that packaging waste. H&M Group is convinced that it must make a shift from a linear packaging model to circular solutions. H&M Group’s the Laboratory is collaborating with Weekday to make online shopping more sustainable, by using reusable packaging and on-demand manufacturing.
Earlier this year, the Laboratory and Weekday tested on-demand printing with good results. They took the learnings and added another sustainable feature into the shopping experience, a reusable packaging system. They partnered with RePack, a Finnish startup that created a reusable packaging model for the textile industry. The repack model re-circulates the same packaging over and over again. After receiving their order, customers will get a discount if they return the packaging, which they can do by drop the Repack into any post box, or Weekday store. The RePack is then cleaned and suitable to use again.
“On-demand enables us to produce just the right amount, based on customer demand, reducing unnecessary production and therefore unsold product,” said Laura Coppen, Circular/Sustainable Business Development, The Laboratory, H&M Group. “A reusable packaging system makes sense for us to test as we are also sending items directly from the factory to customers. We will continue to iterate on our learnings as we go, whilst building new capabilities into our supply chain.”
This project also focuses on on-demand manufacturing, which means that H&M customers can choose either a t-shirt or a sweatshirt which is made from 100 % organic cotton, and then customize it by choosing between a variety of print, text and stickers. The print technology uses no water, and as the rest of H&M Group’s products, does not entail banned chemicals. With on-demand, H&M states that it can continue to explore new sustainable business models to reduce excess production and ensure that it produces the right product, in the right time, for the right customer.
Another new addition to the shopping experience is that the items in this project are manufactured in a nearshore production facility. This will enable these products to be produced and shipped directly to customers, which will only take 2-3 days. This will reduce the number of steps in the supply chain, as well as unnecessary emissions and costs.
“We want to ensure that all our tests are heading the industry in the right direction, towards a more sustainable and circular future, that’s why we start small, evaluate the successes and scale smartly,” Coppen added. “We see on-demand as a great opportunity to be sustainable yet profitable. Reusable packaging is a very interesting case, and we’re curious to see how our customers react to a new offer.”
H&M Group wants to lead the change in circular packaging, both for commercial and non-commercial goods. With projects and test like these, it intends not only offer a new customer experience, but to also bring it one step closer to achieve its vision of becoming 100 % circular and renewable.