In our latest Sustainability Awards 2022 finalist interview, we find out about EcoCubly, a reusable e-commerce packaging solution that reduces void fill and empty space. EcoCubly is a finalist in the pre-commercialised Climate category.
Could you summarise your entry, EcoCubly, in less than 50 words?
EcoCubly is a revolutionary packaging solution. Due to its unique closure mechanism, it adapts flexibly to the package content. This reduces void fill and empty space in packages significantly, resulting in higher transport efficiency and lower CO2 emissions. The multiple use of EcoCubly saves new packaging, water, and trees.
Why do you think the judges were impressed with your entry? Tell us about what is innovative about your project and/or about its impact on packaging sustainability.
EcoCubly is unique in its construction. The problem of most conventional packaging is that the standard sizes create empty space, which are often filled with void fill. This in turn has an impact on the space required in transport vehicles and ultimately leads to an increased negative environmental impact.
The idea behind EcoCubly is to reduce this negative environmental impact. We are pursuing different approaches. On the one hand, EcoCubly can adapt precisely to the contents thanks to its adjustable closure mechanism. This means that empty spaces and void fill can be minimised. At the same time, EcoCubly can cover different package sizes. If EcoCubly became the new standard, a single size could replace several traditional packaging sizes.
Furthermore, our vision is that EcoCubly will be reused, which is easily possible due to the strong robustness of the material and the ingenious construction. The used material is ocean-bound plastic, which is extremely robust and therefore offers good protection for the package contents. We collaborate with a company that collects plastic waste out of the oceans under fair trade conditions and processes it into a recycled raw material. After being reused numerous times and reaching the end of its life cycle, EcoCubly can be recycled.
An example: A private person orders clothes and accessories online, which are sent to him/her in an EcoCubly. The person keeps about half and wants to return the rest. To do so, he/she can adjust EcoCubly to the reduced content and send EcoCubly back to the retailer. It is therefore a win-win situation, from an ecological as well as from an economic point of view. In addition, there is the playful effect of packing and unpacking: this of course represents its own experience with EcoCubly. Based on the aspects mentioned, EcoCubly has an incredibly positive impact on the environment. With a global market share of 0.1% and being reused twice, EcoCubly’s initial estimates indicate that over 65 million new conventional packages, over 22 million cubic metres of water and around 262 thousand trees will be saved. In terms of CO2 emissions, about 5,371 tonnes of CO2 are prevented from being emitted!
When and how do you intend to launch/commercialize this innovation?
In addition to the EcoCubly made of ocean-bound plastic, cardboard-based versions of EcoCuby are planned to be produced. The prototypes of both versions are currently being further improved and finalised. Compared to conventional packaging solutions, the plastic solution offers even better advantages than the cardboard-based version, as the environmentally friendly raw material, which consists of 100% recyclable plastic, takes the sustainability of packaging solutions to a whole new level, and further improves the lifespan as well as the reusability.
At the end of their life, both materials can be recycled without any concerns. It is also planned to attach QR codes to the EcoCubly to prove the origin of the ocean-bound plastic. In parallel, additional production partners and the first pilot customers are about to be onboarded, as well as the further development and expansion of the website, which will also include a webshop in the future. Ideally, a test phase of EcoCubly with the first pilot customers will start in the next few months.
Other use cases such as serving as a gift packaging (especially during Christmas season), as a convenient storage box for home or as a lunch box, are still in the evaluation phase. Please visit ecocubly.com to stay up to date.
You’re shortlisted for the Climate (Pre-Commercialized) category. What do you see as the key demands, challenges and opportunities in relation to climate change?
Unfortunately, when we think about the future, climate change is inevitably a big issue. We are currently experiencing increasingly extreme weather phenomena and natural disasters, which affects both the environment and society, because the global warming we cause threatens our prosperity, peace and sustainable development. We as a society and we as economic actors have a responsibility to contribute to the achievement of climate goals, which can be achieved in different ways.
We aim to contribute to a greener mail order business. Global freight transport causes annual emissions of almost 3.5 billion tonnes of CO2. Around 130 billion packages are sent every year and the trend is rising sharply. The resource intensive production and environmentally harmful transportation of these packages are a burden on our planet. Experts assume that the packages in e-commerce are on average only 50% full. The remaining 50% is mostly taken up by void fill. An additional problem is the single use of packaging. Most packaging solutions are only used once and then disposed of. The transformation towards a more ecological mail order business is a great challenge, but also a great opportunity.
The vision of the EcoCubly team is to contribute towards the achievement of climate goals by providing a more sustainable packaging solution for the mail order business. In doing so, we rely on the 3R approach (Reduce – Reuse – Recycle): due to the perfect fit, empty spaces and transport volumes can be reduced; due to its robustness, EcoCubly can be easily reused; due to the materials used, EcoCubly can be regularly recycled at the end of its life. This would result in savings of water, trees, and CO2.
To succeed, we need the cooperation of different parties: e-commerce platforms, packaging producers, policy makers, logistics companies and many others. The EcoCubly team is convinced that, through the concept of a circular economy, we can make an important contribution to a greener way of life. Ideally, EcoCubly will play a central role over the decades and become a global standard solution.
Winners will be announced at a special awards and networking dinner taking place the evening of the 14th of November during our ‘Innovation Horizon’ event. You can book tickets for the dinner and/or the conference, which reveals the cutting-edge sustainable packaging innovation that will be needed over the coming 5+ years, here: https://lnkd.in/eyUHXFm