Post Loop: Austrian Post Launches Reusable Packaging Service
8/15/2023 Sustainability New Paths Design Start-ups Article

Post Loop: Austrian Post Launches Reusable Packaging Service

With “Post Loop,” Österreichische Post AG is offering a new service for business customers: online stores can send their products in reusable packaging developed by the German start-up hey circle.

Austrian Post offers reusable packaging to online stores. Austrian Post offers reusable packaging to online stores.

The telecom full-service provider “Drei Österreich” is the first customer to offer the Austrian Post reusable packaging. Here is how the new "Post Loop" system works: Recipients remove the products, fold up the packaging, and return it via mailboxes, post office partners, post offices or self-service machines. The packaging is collected by the post office, inventoried, and reprocessed for the next shipment. Depending on the packaging, up to 30 shipping cycles can be completed, the Austrian Post reports.

At the return point, a QR code on the packaging must still be scanned with the RE-ZIP app beforehand; only this step confirms the return. Online stores have the option to send consumers a credit note or the previously collected deposit as a thank you for returning the packaging.

“We have subjected the reusable packaging to a tough practical test under scientific supervision,” explains Peter Umundum, Board Director for Parcel and Logistics, Austrian Post Office.

With the appropriate deposit system, shippers can also motivate consumers to “participate in a green future,” Umundum adds.

Post Loop packages and bags are available as packaging in several sizes made of wood fiber and recycled PET. Through sustainable production and proper recycling, the packaging produces fewer emissions than comparable disposable cartons starting after their second use. Each additional shipment saves additional CO2 emissions and raw materials, the company says.

Austrian Post offers the new service in two tariffs: “Post Loop-Service” and “Post Loop-Service Plus.” With the basic “Post Loop-Service” variant, companies can use their own reusable packaging. Here, Austrian Post takes care of shipping the goods and returning the packaging. The shippers take care of the cleaning and preparation themselves. A complete service is available with “Post Loop-Service Plus.” The shipping packaging can be rented from Post, which takes care of the goods shipment and return transport, cleaning, preparation, and inventory and makes the packaging available for the next shipping cycle.

Start-up hey circle Is a Partner

The reusable packaging was developed in cooperation with the Danish packaging specialist RE-ZIP and the German start-up hey circle and is available in three variants. The Munich-based start-up, which entered the market in April 2022 with a foldable shipping box, was chosen following a public tender. Hey circle says it provides 40,000 reusable shipping bags. “The Austrian Post is a pioneer in reusable shipping and got involved early and, above all, seriously. We are pleased that we meet the high standards of cost-effectiveness, design, and sustainability. Working with such a great partner brings us a good deal closer to our vision: waste-free shipping,” says Doris Diebold, founder and CEO of hey circle GmbH.

By the way, in addition to instructions, the Post Loop packages have a “guestbook map” printed on them: recipients can leave a mark here to show where and how often in Austria the package has been everywhere.

Pilot Test Was Successful

Two years ago, Austrian Post conducted research on reusable shipping packaging for online retailing in the “Green Packaging” pilot project in cooperation with the Upper Austria University of Applied Sciences. In the six-month packaging test, selected products from the companies dm, Intersport, Tchibo, Thalia, and Interspar weinwelt had been shipped in reusable packaging.

During the test, it was shown that the return via letterboxes, post offices or self-service zones of the post office, including the return transport to the retail companies, worked smoothly, explained the Austrian Post Office. However, the packaging did not go through up to 100 shipping cycles as originally desired, but up to 20 shipping cycles were assumed to be realistic. Packaging that could be shipped up to 100 times was lost before reaching this mark due to the return rate, the company says.