Powered by its internal think-tank, the Laboratory, the H&M Group is working to create a brighter future for online shopping—starting with a collaboration between sustainable packaging company, Repack, and Weekday, a Swedish denim brand under the group’s umbrella.
Weekday has been a part of the H&M group since 2008 and sells its products in 18 markets with stores in 10 different countries. That kind of reach obviously necessitates an investment in quality logistics and packaging. However, as brands scramble to appeal to and profit from online shoppers, sustainability can take a back seat. The new collaboration between Repack and Weekday seeks to provide an example of a system that can accomplish both.
“Online shopping is increasing and, with that, packaging waste. H&M Group is convinced that we need to make a shift from a linear packaging model to circular solutions,” H&M said in a statement. “H&M Group’s the Laboratory is collaborating with Weekday to make online shopping more sustainable by using reusable packaging and on-demand manufacturing.”
The new system begins with the packaging, all provided by Repack, a startup based in Finland. Since its founding in 2011, Repack has worked with dozens of brands, including Mud Jeans, Filippa K and Makia. It was also one of the founding members of the “Enabling Network,” a group of circular-minded companies named by Circle Economy and Fashion for Good in May as leaders in sustainable solutions for the fashion industry.
Repack’s package solutions are a step above the typical cardboard and plastic used in online shipping, designed with enough value and durability to encourage usage over multiple orders. To provide an incentive for customers to return the packaging, Weekday will offer a discount for each order once the Repack materials are returned—as easy as dropping it back into the nearest mailbox or Weekday store.
According to Laura Coppen, a member of the circular/sustainable business development team at the Laboratory, combining Repack’s solutions with on-demand manufacturing could be the key to finding a fully circular solution to e-commerce packaging waste.
“On-demand enables us to produce just the right amount, based on customer demand, reducing unnecessary production and therefore unsold product,” Coppen said in a statement. “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.”
Customers will be able to choose between a sweatshirt or a T-shirt made from 100 percent organic cotton, which can then be customized with prints, logos and stickers. Additionally, the H&M group said that its on-demand printing methods are chemical-free, likely to reduce excess waste caused by unnecessary production and use no water.
The products printed in this manner will also be manufactured at a nearshore production facility, according to the group, enabling a production and delivery cycle that should only take around two to three days.
“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 continued. “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.”
The H&M group said projects like the collaboration between Weekday and Repack bring it a step closer to achieving its vision “to become 100 percent circular and renewable.”