Reusable packaging startup Olive is creating a new model to keep clothes out of landfills

When Olive launches in 2021it aimed to eliminate waste from online shopping by allowing consumers to order from multiple sites and receive products in a single, reusable package.

Today, the company is re-launching into the business space to work initially with apparel retailers to create a circular economy that delivers clothing and accessories in zero-waste, reusable packaging while facilitating shipment.

Olive starting with clothing is appropriate because the fashion industry is quite wasteful, contributing approx 13 million tons of textiles for the landfills per year. This is an area that quite a few enterprise-backed companies are attacking from threadUp to Harvest to Archive.

Olive founder Nate Faust, who previously co-founded and then sold the company to Walmart in 2016, told TechCrunch that he sees where consumer behavior is changing: more of a “buy, buy, purge” behavior , where people buy until their closets swell and then get rid of the clothes so they can buy more. He wanted to steer the company in the direction of offering a new solution.

“We want it to be more of a buy-one-sell-one behavior that gets items into that aftermarket easier and faster when the items still have more usable life,” he added.

Ironically, Faust said the B2B approach was something Olive’s brand partners asked for when the company launched its business-to-consumer service in 2021. At the time, making multiple shipments was too cumbersome and would have meant doubling shipping costs costs to retailers, he added.

However, the company has strengthened its resale side by acquisition of Linda’s Stuff, one of eBay’s largest resellers. Consumers can now place their gently used items into Olive’s reusable packaging, where they are passed on to Linda’s Stuff to be sold on eBay. The majority of items sell within 30 days, and the customer and Olive split the proceeds of the sale.

In the new model, the company says, customers place an order with a brand that offers “waste-free olive delivery” at checkout. Olive partners with the brand to package, ship and deliver the customer’s order in Olive’s reusable packaging.

If the customer wishes to return the item, Olive picks it up and returns it to the merchant. If they wish to ship them, they put the items in the same packaging, the items are picked up and sold by Linda’s Stuff.

The company works with 200 brands at the moment and will be expanding this as well as looking at other categories of items that can have multiple uses, for example electronics and some home goods.

“It’s a really unique value proposition for brands because we allow them to offer this more sustainable and superior returns experience for their customers, but really at no additional cost,” Faust added. “We compare their delivery and return costs with existing suppliers and they never charge for picking up empty packaging.”

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