- Returnity now ships over one million parcels monthly, a 100% increase since the beginning of 2022.
- The success of reusable packaging systems, like rental furniture provision, hinges on changing customer behavior.
- Schwartz comes from a circular operations leadership role at Feather
BROOKLYN, N.Y. — Returnity Innovations Inc. (Returnity), which designs, manufactures, and implements reusable packaging and circular logistics systems, recently introduced Jeff Schwartz as its new Director of Operations.
Jeff will lead Returnity operations, helping clients identify, pilot, and scale new circular offerings. Within this responsibility, he will manage the packaging supply chain and lifecycle across sourcing, manufacturing, deployment, cleaning, and disposal. He will also develop internal and external best practices around integrating and tracking sustainable logistics systems.
“Helping a customer switch from single-use to reuse is ultimately a systems challenge, not a packaging challenge and requires effective customer analysis, education, and implementation. Given his partnerships experience and passion for helping companies transition to more sustainable models, we know Jeff is the person for this job.”
Before Returnity, Jeff spent five years in the circular economy as the Head of Logistics Partnerships for Feather, a furniture rental company aiming to reduce the amount of furniture in landfills. Jeff was a member of Feather’s pre-seed team as its first employee, helping scale the company to a 100+ person, industry-leading business with over $75 million in funding. He graduated cum laude from Washington University in St. Louis.
During the course of his time with Feather, his focus shifted toward supply chain and logistics. “I did a lot of work with our market expansion,” he shared with Reusable Packaging News. “We had to set up warehouses and delivery folks and fleets of trucks in each new market. So it was quite an onerous task and I would deploy myself to a market for a couple of weeks at a time as that market got set up to make it self-sufficient as quickly as possible.” In his last years with Feather, he focused on logistics partnerships. He subsequently worked for Plenty, the indoor farming company.
While at Feather, he first met Mike Newman, CEO of Returnity, when the company was exploring reusable packaging systems for furniture shipments. “Mike and I’d stayed in touch throughout the years,” Jeff explained. “And Returnity does an amazing job at linking circular economy and sustainable logistics, both for itself and for its partners. So that’s my background and how I ended up here.”
One common thread between Feather’s furniture rental business and Returnity’s reusable packaging system, Jeff noted, is the challenge of changing consumer behavior. “Feather was trying to change customer behavior in a very profound way for people who were used to buying their furniture,” he said. “Turns out changing consumer behavior is really hard,” he quipped. “Especially when that’s been ingrained for generations upon generations.”
“Returnity is not necessarily directly responsible for changing those consumer behaviors, but we’re the solution sitting behind all that and working with brands who are targeting that consumer behavior change,” he elaborated. He emphasized that it isn’t enough to simply offer a program. A conversion to a reusable packaging system must be done intentionally, involving a thorough dialogue with stakeholders. “I’m really drawn to Returnity because we are one of the practical examples of how consumer behavior can be changed for the better,” he said.
And that change could not come at a better time. With 100B global parcel deliveries a year, and over 200B by 2026, the environmental impact of packaging is undeniable. In the U.S. alone, it’s enough packaging to pave a mile-wide cardboard road from NYC to LA and back – three times over, every year. Unlike single-use cardboard or plastic mailers, the average Returnity bag or box can be used for 20 customer shipment cycles with a 95.5% return rate.
Returnity packaging is now used for one million monthly shipments, an increase of roughly 100% since the start of this year. This growth also results from a $3.1mm seed round raise led by Brand Foundry Ventures. Returnity now supports a growing group of circular brands and household names like Walmart, FedEx, New Balance, Rent the Runway, and Estee Lauder. The reusable packaging program is tailored to meet the need of each vendor.
Returnity is also expanding into the grocery delivery space for customers like The Rounds, a subscription-based home delivery service. It also provides a reusable packaging system for LA-based Technical Authentication & Grading (TAG) which authenticates and grades trading cards.
“We’re thrilled to bring Jeff to the team,” said Returnity CEO, Mike Newman. “Helping a customer switch from single-use to reuse is ultimately a systems challenge, not a packaging challenge and requires effective customer analysis, education, and implementation. Given his partnership experience and passion for helping companies transition to more sustainable models, we know Jeff is the person for this job.”