After deposit bottles, now come deposit bags: Start-up launches smart reusable system for mail order business

After deposit bottles, now come deposit bags: Start-up launches smart reusable system for mail order business 1920 768 flustix


The mail order business is booming, despite the economic crisis, several million packages are sent through Germany every day. In 2021, there were a total of almost four billion shipments of goods – a record. As a result, unimaginable amounts of packaging waste have to be disposed of. The cluttered waste paper containers are silent witnesses to this development. A start-up is now taking off with an innovation: reusable shipping bags and an associated deposit system are set to change the packaging industry for good.

There is a completed reusable system behind Boomerang

There are many providers of reusable packaging. But the Hamburg-based start-up offers a holistic solution, a completed reusable system that can be used by mail-order companies. “In our case, there is still an innovative deposit and clearing system behind the bag, which we developed ourselves, including the necessary infrastructure,” says Katharina Kreutzer, one of the three founders of Boomerang. After all, the bags filled with the ordered products not only have to reach the customers, but they also have to be returned.

Boomerang packs can be used up to 50 times

What does a boomerang pack look like? Similar to a shipping bag used by conventional fashion stores. The material is stronger and much more durable, made of plastics that will be recycled in a separate cycle in the future. Smart: The bags can be folded into three sizes using Velcro fasteners. Katharina tells us, “Our pack offers an incredible amount of space. The classic order from an online store definitely fits in: Four hoodies, a pair of shoes and two pairs of pants. If you have a return and only want to send back a part, you can adjust the size accordingly. This minimized the amount of empty space.”

If you got nothing to return, put the pack in the mailbox

How does the pack come back if nothing is returned? Simply fold it to A4 size – and put it in the mailbox. After the return, the deposit is refunded – three euros. Is that enough to motivate people to make the trip to the mailbox? “There are studies that have examined the willingness to pay for such models. We took our cue from that,” says Katharina. How high the return rate will be in the end remains to be seen – because Boomerang is currently launching in 20 online stores offering mainly textiles and sustainability goods. “The main thing is not to be fragile,” says Katharina, “we are not fixated on industries. On our part, it can also be packaged dog food in there.”

Returned bags are cleaned in the logistics center

And here we are already at the next point: The packs must of course also be cleaned. For this, Boomerang creates logistics centers with partner companies. This is where the empty deposit bags end up, where they are checked, cleaned and then delivered back to the mail order companies. This is an enormous effort that costs a lot of money, especially in the start-up phase. But the industry is hooked on the idea. Five Investments GmbH, a group of renowned logistics companies, is funding the start-up with a high six-figure sum. At the pitch competition Start-up Champs 2022, Boomerang won the regional title for Hamburg in the category Mobility and Logistics.

Founder left her secure permanent position for the project

The founding trio themselves are also convinced by the project. Katharina Kreutzer, Christian Putz and Marc Engelmann met digitally via an online portal, a kind of Tinder for founders. The birthplace of the new company: the garage of Marc, a journalist from Hamburg. “After a few days of working together, it was clear that we were going to take off. After that, things happened very quickly. I quit my apartment and my job and went to Hamburg,” says Katharina, who previously worked as a central purchasing agent for a large food company.

Meanwhile, Boomerang is a team of 12 people. The garage has become an office space of 300 square meters in the coworking space of a large insurance company in Hamburg City. In the coming weeks, Boomerang will gradually announce on its LinkedIn channel, which stores will send their goods with the new reusable packs in the future.

It’s exemplary how Boomerang wants to change the industry with its innovation. Until now, most companies still rely on disposable, not reusable solutions. Read also our big overview on how the major online retailers Amazon, Otto & Co. save resources in packaging.

Image Credits: Boomerang