The rise of e-commerce means there are an awful lot of cardboard boxes making one-way trips before maybe ending up in a recycling bin under the best of circumstances. A startup called LivingPackets wants to shake things up with the aid of reusable packaging.
The company has announced a new reusable shipping box with an integrated E Ink display that replaces a traditional shipping label. Cleverly called THE BOX, the package can be reused up to 1,000 times.
The E Ink display only consumes power when the shipping label is changed, so THE BOX doesn’t draw a lot of power — although it also features integrated sensors for measuring temperature, humidity and shocks and it can connect to the internet so you can monitor conditions using an app.
LivingPackets says that means while it costs around 100 times more to make a single unit of THE BOX than a cardboard package, it could save customers money in the long run, while also reducing CO2 emissions and other waste… assuming it does actually get reused hundreds of times.
The company is trying to develop an ecosystem to make that happen — rather than charging for boxes, LivingPackets plans to charge customers for its services. Customers can send a package using a smartphone app to select a carrier and delivery method and set up the E Ink shipping label. That may not make a lot of financial sense for individuals, but companies that ship a lot of packages could save money with reusable packaging of this type.
What remains to be seen is whether this idea will ever become common enough that your Amazon purchases will be delivered in this sort of reusable box.
“LivingPackets says that means while it costs around 100 times more to make a single unit of THE BOX than a cardboard package, it could save customers money in the long run, while also reducing CO2 emissions and other waste… assuming it does actually get reused hundreds of times.”
Yeah, this point is going to be the main reason why THE BOX will flop. Given how rough shipping and some customers are, there’s bound to be a pretty significant amount of boxes that won’t survive the 100+ uses needed to break even.
The worst case scenario for this container is people using it, but stuffing things into cardboard boxes for shipping anyway before putting them into THE BOX. And then logistics chains that weren’t built on reusable packaging resulting in hundreds of THE BOX piling up in various places.
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