Frustration as a driving force for a circular change of e-commerce

Frustration as a driving force for a circular change of e-commerce

E-commerce exploded during the pandemic. But in both the grocery trade and the growing e-commerce, a large amount of plastic and paper bags are consumed that today are neither recycled or reused. So what can we do about this? Antrop took on the question together with Axfoundation, a non-profit organization working towards building a sustainable society and Svenska Retursystem, who develop and operate an efficient reusable system. Together we developed a hypothesis for a solution called Returbar.

Challenge: A significant amount of paper bags are neither reused nor recycled

Food deliveries generate large amounts of paper bags and boxes. They are not reused or handed in for recycling to the extent required in a circular economy. This is not sustainable. So in December 2020, the LOOP team gathered actors from the e-commerce industry to explore how we could build more circularity into the ongoing e-commerce boom. This is where the idea of ​​”Returbar” was born – a project with the aim of creating a system for circular e-commerce deliveries.

Customers are ready

Many customers today have become accustomed to reusing or bringing reusable bags to the store. The large number of bags that e-commerce deliveries lead to creates great frustration among the clients. Antrop’s study of the customer experience showed that:

  • Half of the customers are frustrated with today’s system.
  • Almost everyone feels that there are too many bags.
  • Most people leave their bags directly for recycling, without reusing them.
There are an incredible number of bags to handle. We order groceries every week, sometimes several times, and it does not take long before the house is flooded with paper bags. We try to reuse them but there are simply too many
- Customer quote

Process: Circular solution is needed


Antrop worked together with Axfoundation and Svenska Retursystem (SRS) to realize an idea for circular load carriers, i.e. return bags for food deliveries to consumers. This was to reduce the CO2 footprint in e-commerce and make it easier for consumers to act more circularly.

The work we did included developing a hypothesis for an actual solution based on external surveys, future plans for stores intended only for online shopping, so-called “dark stores”, international initiatives, customer surveys and a simpler life cycle analysis. The project was named “Returbar” (Returnable).

– There are many habitual behaviors associated with the use of bags. Something that we believe should be challenged through industry-wide initiatives for the sake of consumers, says Maria Klint, circular service designer at Antrop.

An important aspect is that the solution is common to the entire industry. Partly because it is in demand by customers and increases the possibility of creating behavioral changes that persist, but also because it can create opportunities for further cooperation in reverse logistics, i.e. the flow of goods and services between a company and a customer after goods or services have been performed .

Results: Important insights and positive feedback


The Returbar idea received a positive response when it was presented to organisations in the grocery industry such as Coop, Axfood and ICA. However, due to the rapid increase in e-commerce sales during the pandemic, these organisations’ primary focus has been to meet the demand. Therefore, the Returbar project is currently on pause.

"We don’t want to see this as a failure as the project has generated useful insights, and raised the issue of circular load carriers high on the agenda in the grocery trade and Axfoundation intends to take care of the insights and see if they can be useful in other areas"
- says Amelie Silfverstolpe , responsible for Sustainable Innovation at Axfoundation.

The idea for Returbar came from a LOOP Lab organized by the Nordic LOOP team in December 2020.

Contact us for more information!

Maria Klint

Service Designer +46 763 446681

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Let’s build circularity around the next generation!

Let's build circularity around the next generation!

The norm today is to buy new things, like clothes, toys, books or sports equipment, for our kids. But why, when we know the kids will lose interest and grow out of them within months? What will the future of toys and childrenswear look like with circular solutions? Join us in a LOOP Lab with focus on kids. And let’s build circularity around the next generation!

The value of the global toy market was over 90 billion USD and the value of childrenswear market over 230 billion USD in 2019. Childrenswear is the fastest area of the fashion market as children go through about 8 to 10 sizes of clothes before the age of 3. And 80% of all kids toys end up thrown away in landfills, incinerators or oceans.

Less environmentally friendly households

It is not surprising that becoming a parent makes your household 25% less environmentally friendly. However, 71% of parents say they became more concerned about sustainability after having a child. 

Clearly there is a need and demand to find better models to produce, use and reuse toys, baby equipment and clothes.

The next generation needs to grow up in a world where circularity is mainstream. To get there:
  • Businesses need to offer circular solutions
  • Parents need to shift their mindset and live by example
  • By doing so, kids will be introduced to a circular mindset from an early age.
What will the future of toys and childrenswear look like with circular solutions? We invite businesses, experts and parents (anyone who produces, sells, resells, repairs or buys toys, books, games or sports equipment for kids) to join us in a digital workshop to explore the opportunities of circularity.


One digital workshop based on design thinking methodology. Our team will facilitate the session and it does not included any preparations from you. We only expect you to bring and share your own insights and experiences.


You are a Nordic professional excited to explore business with circular solutions. Maybe you are working in toy manufacturing, retail, childrenswear, baby products or resale/reuse.

When and where?

November 24th at 10am to 12pm  CET
at the Nordic Circular Summit (online)


For you to get inspired to take action and start collaborating with the necessary actors to go from strategy to action.

Nordic Circular Summit 2021

LOOP Lab Kids is a Nordic Circular Summit 2021 pre-session. The Nordic Circular Summit is a four-day digital summit exploring circular economy in the Nordic region. It is co-hosted and produced by Nordic Circular Hotspot and Nordic Innovation, and is an official World Circular Economy Forum (WCEF) Side Event.

Learn more and sign up at

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IceNet – Using AI To Forecast Arctic Sea Ice Changes

IceNet – Using AI To Forecast Arctic Sea Ice Changes

A new AI tool, dubbed IceNet, could lead to improved early-warning systems to protect Arctic wildlife and costal communities.

Data scientist at the British Antarctic Survey (BAS) have published a new study in the science journal Nature Communications. The study shows that the BAS have managed to build a new AI system that can forecast Arctic sea change in a much more efficient way.

Sea ice is a vast layer of frozen water, it appears around the North Pole in the Arctic as well as around the South Pole in the Southern Ocean. It expands in the winter and shrinks in the summer naturally. Sea ice is very hard to predict because it has very complex interactions with the atmosphere above and the ocean below. Existing methods for forecasting sea ice are based on physics, so scientist write the laws of physics in computer code and use that to predict into the future. In contrast this new system, called IceNet, is based on artificial intelligence techniques called deep learning which underpin technologies like facial recognition, self-driving cars etc. The difference in this new study is that scientist at the BAS have taken one of these algorithms and made it learn how to forecast Arctic sea ice based on satellite data from the past four decades. The result is that IceNet outperformed the leading physics based models in these long range sea ice forecasts at two months and beyond, while also running thousands of times faster. IceNet could run on a laptop, while previous physics based methods would have to run for hours on a supercomputer to produce the same forecasts. The context of this is that the Arctic is a region on the front line of global warming. It has warmed at a rate of about two to three times that of the global average. This has a significant effect on the amount of sea ice in the ocean. This summer the sea ice was double the size that it was compared to forty years ago. This sudden and unprecedented decline has dramatic implications for the local wildlife and human inhabitant of the Arctic, particularly the indigenous communities who have a rich and intricate culture thats intertwined with sea ice that dates back potentially up to 40 thousand years.

BAS is hoping that the advances in sea ice forecasting ability brought forwards in their study means that people can start to zoom into the IceNet forecast and use that to help conservation workers, as well as local communities to build their resilience and adapt to future changes in Arctic sea ice.

Find out more at

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