Yu-Chang Chou develops a reusable packaging
service for sustainable online shopping

| 12 comments

Royal College of Art graduate Yu-Chang Chou has developed a "return and reuse" packaging system to help online retailers reduce waste (+ movie).

Repack packaging by Yu-Chang Chou

After watching his wife throw out perfectly useable packaging from her online shopping purchases, Yu-Chang Chou was inspired to develop a sustainable alternative, using a similar model to the bottle-return system used in many European countries.

Repack packaging by Yu-Chang Chou

The customer would opt for for the packaging when they make their purchase. Once they receive the product, they simply fold and reseal the Repack bag and post it back to a central address, in exchange for a refund of the deposit they paid when ordering.

Royal Mail – the UK's national postage system – would then collect the bags and resell them through local post offices.

Repack packaging by Yu-Chang Chou



"One of my favourite parts of the Repack system is using postboxes as return spots," Chou told Dezeen.

"Letter volume has decreased significantly and is expected to keep decreasing. Therefore in the future, maybe post boxes will become useless. Using postboxes as the packaging return spots for Repack can give them a new life and function."

Repack packaging by Yu-Chang Chou

The Repack bags are made of two parts - an outer bag and an inner cushioning. The external layer is constructed with durable polyester fabric made from recycled PET bottles, which is screen-printed and sewn together. The cushioning is microcellular polyurethane, often used in protective sportswear. Both materials are durable and recyclable.

The bags are expected to last for 200 cycles, after which Royal Mail would be able to repair or recycle them.

Repack-by-Yu-Chang-Chou_dezeen_468_0

"Repack provides packaging as a service in collaboration with existing postal systems rather than as a one-off product," said the designer.

"Using these durable Repack bags to send parcels not only increases packaging efficiency and saves packaging costs per use, but also significantly reduces the environmental impact of producing new packaging."

Repack packaging by Yu-Chang Chou

"Through return and reuse, Repack makes online shopping more environmental friendly and cost-effective for both the retailer and costumer," he added.

Repack packaging by Yu-Chang Chou

Chou worked on the project while studying on the Innovation Design Engineering course at the Royal College of Art and presented the work at the graduate show, which concluded on Sunday.

Other designs at the exhibition included an inflatable bag to keep electronic devices safe and an umbrella made from just six parts.

Repack packaging by Yu-Chang Chou
Concept diagram
  • http://reallywellmade.co.uk Really Well Made

    Nice idea. We’d be interested in this kind of system, provided it wasn’t in conjunction with Royal Mail. Their prices are NOT sustainable!

  • Cillian Warfield

    A very similar idea with the name RePack has been in use in Finland for the last couple of years.

    http://www.repack.fi/

    • William D

      Wow. Even the name is the same! Either that is suspicious or pure coincidence, which is entirely possible – that people will be going around trying to be more eco-friendly. There are only so many ways you can keep the same package in circulation!

    • Baggy

      Suspiciously similar.

  • Taz 4000

    Surely it’s not more environmentally friendly to be sending around empty packets back and forth?

    • http://reallywellmade.co.uk Really Well Made

      It’s hard to quantify but the delivery vans are making the journey anyway. The extra weight is negligible.

  • MagicJ

    Surely an esteemed establishment such as the RCA has checked his work for plagiarism? It seems his text is copy and pasted straight from RePack.fi’s website. As is his idea.

  • Brian

    This appears to be a direct lift from repack.fi. Even the text sounds extremely similar.

  • Paul

    Is this a straight copy+paste from Finnish http://www.repack.fi ?!

  • William D

    Well yea, I agree!

  • Richard Strong

    The Royal Mail could still use the Finnish version in the same exact way, so really this is just a difference in implementation and not design.

  • http://www.dezeen.com/ Dezeen Magazine

    See our news story about the plagiarism allegations raised here: http://www.dezeen.com/2014/07/10/royal-college-of-art-plagiarism-claim-repack/ Marcus/Dezeen