Reusable packaging startup Olive strives to keep clothes out of landfills • TechCrunch

When Olive launched in 2021, it aimed to eliminate waste from online shopping by enabling consumers to order from multiple sites and receive products in one reusable package.

Today, the company is relaunching itself in the business-to-business space to work initially with clothing retailers to establish a circular economy that delivers clothing and accessory orders in zero-waste, reusable packaging, while simplifying shipping.

Olive starting with clothing is fitting because the fashion industry is quite wasteful, contributing an estimated 13 million tonnes of textile to landfills per year. It’s an area that quite a few venture-backed companies are also attacking, from thredUp to Vinted to Archive.

Olive founder Nate Faust, who previously co-founded and then sold the company to Walmart in 2016, told TechCrunch he saw where consumer behavior was changing: more of a “buy, buy, clean,” behavior, where people buy until their closets bulge and then they get rid of clothes so they can buy more. He wanted to move the company in a direction to offer a new solution.

“We want it to be more of a ‘buy one, sell one’ behavior that gets goods into the secondary market easier and faster when the goods still have a more useful life,” he added.

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

However, the company strengthened its resale side through the acquisition of Linda’s Stuff, one of eBay’s largest retailers. Now consumers can place their gently used items into Olive’s reusable packaging where they are delivered to Linda’s Stuff to be sold on eBay. The majority of items are sold within 30 days, and the customer and Olive split the sales revenue.

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

If the customer wishes to return the item, Olive collects it and returns it to the retailer. If they want 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 now and will expand that as well as looking at other categories of goods that may have multiple uses, such as electronics and some home goods.

“It’s a really unique value proposition for brands because we enable them to offer this more sustainable and superior return experience for their customers, but at no additional cost,” Faust added. “We match their delivery and return costs with existing suppliers and they are never charged for collection of empty packaging.”

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