DHL eCommerce tests reusable shipping packaging


Sustainability is in our DNA. In everything we do, we consider the impact on the environment. That starts with our electric vehicles and sustainable buildings. But local employee initiatives can make a big difference as well. So we initiated "Green Heroes”: we highlight sustainable ideas brought in by colleagues. The first initiative on the list: the reusable shipping packaging.

Yes! Here comes the delivery guy with the book you wanted so badly. Once received, you open the larger-than-life box and throw it in the trash. You feel like four books could fit in there. A recognizable problem for many consumers and companies.

'Research shows that we ship 40 percent air,' says Marleen Nelemans, Sustainability Manager at DHL eCommerce. 'In addition, we waste a lot of material, because cardboard boxes usually end up directly in the paper bin. Not to mention all the filling material and plastic packaging.' Not only we as DHL eCommerce, but also consumers, companies and the government want something done about that mountain of waste. 

Reusable shipping packaging  
Maarten Overweg, Senior Product Manager at DHL eCommerce, researched, together with colleagues, suitable alternatives. 'We examined frequently used packaging, listened to all the requirements and looked at existing solutions. This showed that there are several ways to produce and use shipping boxes in the most environmentally friendly way possible. The concept we are moving forward with is the  reusable shipping packaging. The concept is not new, but it is worldwide still in its infancy. DHL eCommerce stands for innovation, which is why we want to further shape this concept together with our customers.

Reuse a hundred times
The capsule is a bag made of polypropylene. The big advantage is that you can use it much more often than standard packaging - at least a hundred times, research showed. Maarten: "And because the packaging returns to the sender, it doesn't end up on the garbage heap. Furthermore, no filling material is needed and the capsule is very sturdy, waterproof, stackable and can be made in many sizes. With a traceable sticker you also keep track of how often the capsule is used and where it is.

Anja Cichowlas, Program Manager Sustainability at Kruitbosch 

Pilot: circular shipping process
We are currently testing the reusable shipping packaging with Kruitbosch, owner of bicycle brands Cortina and Alpina. They not only sell bicycles, but also supply European bicycle stores with parts and accessories. Anja Cichowlas, Program Manager Sustainability at Kruitbosch: "We try to reduce the amount of packaging material in different ways. DHL's reusable capsule supports our ambition to contribute to a circular economy.' 

Greener and faster
'As an important link, DHL not only provides more sustainable packaging, but also the logistical support to get it back to us,' Cichowlas continues. 'This allows us to properly test the total concept of this circular packaging. The first benefits are already clear: we use less material and process our orders faster. After all, we no longer have to fold and glue boxes. And that is not only great for us - the customers with whom we are testing the reusable shipping packaging are also very pleased. Both about the shipping process and about the way we reduce packaging waste. 

Maarten concludes: 'Because we are still in the testing phase, it will take some time before you get your book sent home in the reusable shipping packaging. But the first step was made!'