“I Don't Think we Need to Completely Change our Lives”
Katharina Kreutzer has made it onto the leaderboard of the US magazine Forbes. The 24-year-old co-founder of the start-up “Boomerang” develops recycled reusable shipping bags and wants to be a role model for young women. A further report on the topic of women in the packaging industry.
Yeast, flour, sugar: Katharina Kreutzer ordered these and other foods by the ton – as a buyer for a grocery company. In the process, questions increasingly arose in her mind. Couldn’t we do it with less film and less packaging? Skepticism turned into a thirst for action. The Regensburg native looked for new career paths. She had already received a scholarship for her successful training as a retail saleswoman, so she began studying business and retail management via the second educational path. Her bachelor’s thesis on the topic of reusable packaging in retail was the starting signal for the rest of her career. “My focus is sustainability,” Kreutzer says. Therefore, it was clear to her that she wanted to develop professionally in this environment. “However, I am also the generation that is shaped by different things. I like to order online, which also produces waste. I don’t think we have to completely change our lives to do more for the environment.”
Shipping Bags That Come Back Like a Boomerang
For Katharina Kreutzer, the packaging industry is one in which a lot is currently happening and which she can change with her knowledge from the field. On a start-up platform, she met Marc Engelmann and Christian Putz, with whom she runs the now very successful start-up “Boomerang.” The Hamburg-based company offers online retailers shipping bags with a deposit system including return logistics. For this, the young woman left her Bavarian hometown to move to the Hanseatic city. “We have a haptic product and a young team that works closely together. These two factors are reasons for me to work locally. And there is a great network for start-ups in Hamburg,” explains the 24-year-old.
The “Boomerang” concept in a nutshell: When shopping online, customers can choose reusable packaging for a three euro deposit. The goods, primarily fashion, are then packed and shipped directly by the retailer in the shipping bags made of recycled plastic. The recipient can fold the bags flat in a few easy steps, close them with a Velcro fastener and either drop them in the mailbox without a stamp or drop them off at one of the now approximately 150,000 drop-off points. Each shipping bag has an ID number, which Boomerang uses to process the refund of the deposit. “Of course, you can also return the reusable packaging to the online store,” says Kreutzer.
Market Potential for Reusable Packaging
“We have the packaging, a deposit system and do the cleaning and reprocessing of the bags. These three pillars provide a whole deposit system, not just reusable packaging,” she explains. More and more online shoppers are opting for what they see as a convenient shipping solution, plus regulatory requirements mean that reusable solutions will increase.
According to the EU’s new packaging regulation, ten percent of all shipments in online retail are to be sent in reusable packaging by 2030. This would affect hundreds of millions of parcels that would need reusable packaging. The quota is to rise gradually to 50 percent.
Exhibitor at FACHPACK 2024
In addition to sustainability, one thing above all is important to Katharina Kreutzer: she wants to be a role model for young women. “I think it’s important that young women have role models and know young doers. I want to tell young girls it can be cool to be smart.” She wants to encourage her peers to get involved and be more confident in their careers. To do that, she thinks there should be more networks for young female entrepreneurs.
We are perceived warmly and seriously everywhere as a young start-up. Those are my experiences.” Katharina Kreutzer is therefore already looking forward to the next FACHPACK. “We had already been able to make many contacts there in 2022, so it was clear that we would like to be there again as an exhibitor in 2024.”