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Online shopping creates 5 times more trash than buying in-store — this startup is on a mission to fix that

In 2019 alone, the global e-commerce industry generated 2.1 billion pounds of plastic packaging.

Returnity reusable e-commerce packaging

Photo Credit: Returnity

E-commerce makes all of our lives easier, but it also creates a lot of trash. In fact, online shopping creates nearly five times more packaging waste than offline shopping. 

Returnity is on a mission to solve this problem.

What is Returnity?

Returnity is a startup focused on revolutionizing shipping and packaging by creating "circular" systems made of reusable packaging. 

E-commerce sales have been increasing in the past few decades, but no year has seen greater growth than 2020. The COVID-19 pandemic made us all turn online for our shopping needs, contributing to the rise in e-commerce sales. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, 2020 saw a 43% increase in e-commerce sales

In 2019 alone, the global e-commerce industry generated 2.1 billion pounds of plastic packaging. By 2025, that number is expected to reach 4.5 billion pounds. And those numbers are just for plastic — they don't include waste generated from cardboard boxes and other forms of packaging. 

Returnity's CEO, Mike Newman, has claimed that the top three Returnity customers alone will replace approximately 20 million pieces of single-use packaging

How does Returnity work?

Returnity's mission is based on a circularity framework, meaning that all of its shipping and delivery packaging is reusable. The startup works directly with companies that want to make more environmentally friendly packaging choices. 

For example, Rent the Runway has partnered with Returnity to ship fashionable garments to its subscribers using reusable bags that then get returned by customers after their subscription period ends. 

Happy Returns has also partnered with Returnity on its Return Bar initiative. There are 2,600 Happy Returns Return Bars in the U.S., which allow customers to return goods in easy, money-saving, and waste-saving ways.  

Once a return is at a Return Bar, it is shipped to Return Hubs in Returnity's reusable packaging. Dozens of brands use Happy Returns' Return Bar, including, Dr. Scholls, Gymshark, Outerknown, Princess Polly, Revolve, and Steve Madden. 

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