Fifteen European start-ups have been selected for mentorship and, potentially, a Europe-wide trial under this year’s Amazon Sustainability Accelerator; these include five companies providing reusable packaging for the e-commerce sector.

The start-ups will enter a four-week programme of expert-led workshops, specialized mentorship, and a tailored curriculum, with access to a network of entrepreneurs in the sustainability sector also being made available.

Experts in Amazon’s Sustainability, Climate Pledge Fund, and Climate Pledge Friendly teams will work with the participants, who will also receive £10,000 (€11,743.50) worth of AWS Activate Credits.

For the first time since the Sustainability Accelerator began, the companies will also have the opportunity to pitch their solutions for a trial in Amazon’s European operations. Three successful start-ups will participate in a further eight-to-ten-week programme to scope their pilot with the intention to launch.

Depending on the scope and duration of the trial, Amazon will provide these trials with funding between £50,000 (€58,717.50) and £2 million (€23,48700).

Later-stage start-ups have progressed from prototype testing and working towards generating initial revenue and growing operations. These companies have been selected form the key areas of circular economy, energy in buildings, and packaging.

Among the successful start-ups is Hipli, a packaging provider for e-commerce businesses in which used, empty delivery bags can be returned for cleaning and reuse. Each pack features a QR code for tracking and reuse.

The company has already signed contracts with over 220 French and European e-commerce companies, including Bpost, Belgium’s leading postal operator.

RePack provides recycled polypropylene shipping bags for retailers, which consumers can fold into letter size and return via any postbox worldwide at no extra cost. RePack will check, clean, and prepare the pack for further use – a process claimed to eliminate waste and reduce CO2 emissions by up to 80%.

It has already collaborated with Royal Canin, Zalando, Otto, and other consumer brands and e-commerce portals.

Meanwhile, Re-Zip rewards customers for returning its reusable e-commerce packaging. Consumers can use the app to find the nearest drop-off point and scan the pack label, at which point they will receive a voucher for the webshop they ordered from.

Apparently, this process increases customer retention and reduces CO2 emissions by up to 88%, while also helping customers reduce their packaging costs by 100%.

Opopop has developed a ‘100% French’ reusable and returnable packaging solution for e-commerce. Surplus waterproof materials from the textile industry are incorporated into the packaging, with the packs collected from consumers via La Poste networks. The packs are also designed to be easily repairable and achieve a lifespan of up to 100 uses.

Additionally, KIUD’s packaging solution made from recycled textile fibres is designed for reuse and recycling in conventional textile streams. Aiming for durability, it claims to reduce water consumption by 60%, CO2 by 46%, and land use by 68% compared to cardboard alternatives.

The company adds that its solution aligns with the EU Green Deal and combats the 78% of EU textile waste currently landfilled, incinerated, or exported to countries in Africa.

Since the Accelerator launched in 2022, it is thought to have supported over 25 start-ups across Europe and the UK. Amazon believes the initiative has helped participating companies increase their total sales by an average of 700%, raised over £15 million (€17,615,250) to date, and provided over £1 million in grants and credits.

“I’m so excited to welcome 15 ambitious start-ups to join the Amazon Sustainability Accelerator this year, including our first ever Climate Tech Pilot,” said Zak Watts, Amazon’s international director of Sustainability. “The scope of businesses involved means we can support even more entrepreneurs to reach their potential.

“Not to mention the one-of-a-kind opportunity to test their technology directly with parts of Amazon’s business. It is our mission for the Amazon Sustainability Accelerator to be the best programme of its kind in the world for entrepreneurs to pioneer and scale cutting-edge sustainable solutions.”

Climate innovation agency EIT Climate-KIC and innovation strategy consultants Founders Intelligence have also partnered with the Sustainability Accelerator this year.

Ezra Konvitz, director and head of Accelerators at Founders Intelligence, commented: “We love finding the ways major companies can work with leading start-ups creating the future. The incredible start-ups and technologies that are part of the Pilot Challenge cohort give cause for hope – if we can help them find the best ways to work with Amazon’s scale we’ll achieve a game-changing impact.”

In similar news, Google recently announced the winners of its Single-Use Plastics Challenge, which sought out more sustainable packaging solutions for its own foodspaces and intended to reduce the food service industry’s plastic footprint. The winning applicants included providers of edible cutlery, data-powered food dispensers, and refillable containers for cooking oil.

Additionally, Amazon worked with SMEs Mum & You, The Cheeky Panda, and BUSHBABY late last year to deliver products in their original packaging, rather than applying materials for shipping. This was in response to research suggesting that six in ten UK adults would approve of products arriving at their homes without delivery packaging to lower their environmental impact.

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