If the pandemic has taught us one thing, it’s that figuring out what to do with all the boxes that are coming to our houses on a regular basis is a challenge. Breaking them down is a pain and recycling containers fill up fast — assuming your municipality recycles.
The Box, from a startup called LivingPackets, has an idea to change that. The bigger question is: Will anybody listen?
At its heart, The Box is a shipping container. But like most things at CES, it’s a smart one. Loaded with sensors and built following four years of research and development, the packaging is a reusable container that can allegedly survive 1,000 trips before being replaced.
It works like this: You receive the item you order in The Box, then return it (at no cost to you) to the shipper. It can then be reused on future shipments.
That could mean a lot less cardboard in landfills. The Box also eliminates shipping labels, using an e-ink display to show where it’s headed. And it contains a mechanism inside to secure products, meaning there’s no need for bubble wrap, again reducing the environmental footprint.
Want more features? How about an electronic lock that can only be opened by the recipient? The Box also has internal sensors to alert the sender/shipper if something goes wrong in transit. And it has a tracking mechanism built-in, which can be handy if UPS or FedEx misplace the package.
LivingPackets is touting The Box to businesses by playing up the savings. Each one, it says, can save a company between 2,000 and 5,000 euros. That’s not insignificant, but it requires companies to radically change their thinking — and corporations don’t have a storied history of doing so.
Some in Europe are willing to at least experiment with The Box, though. Orange, France’s largest telecommunications company, and Cdiscount, a French e-commerce company, have signed on as partners.
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