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Australia-based startup Returnr aims to replace single-use takeaway food packaging with a returnable and reusable stainless steel bowl. Users buying takeout at participating restaurants can pay an AU$6 deposit to pick up their food in a Returnr bowl. After eating, they have the option to return the bowl, reuse it for their next takeout meal, or keep it and forgo the AU$6. This month, Returnr became available when ordering from selected Deliveroo outlets in Melbourne.

We have seen plenty of reusable product innovations, but here’s why we love this particular example:

Sustainability as a Service. Most initiatives today focus on getting consumers to swap out single-use products by buying reusable alternatives: think metal straws and cotton tote bags. But in many of these contexts, ownership is inconvenient! Especially so for those used to accessing everything – from clothes to transport – at minimal upfront cost, near-instantly, and with no ongoing maintenance. Returnr’s novel business model offers customers all of the good, with none of the bad. How can you give consumers access to sustainable alternatives without any pain?

Expectation Economy. 2018 was a tipping point for the END OF EXCESS trend, as mainstream consumers finally woke up to the negative impacts of their ‘grab-and-go’ mindsets. Since then, we’ve seen countless innovations flood this space, from Revolv running a similar returnable container initiative in Bali, to Unspun 3D-printing zero-waste custom fit jeans in Hong Kong, to name a few. With every novel eco-innovation, consumer expectations around reducing waste will move up a notch, then another innovator will come along with an even more sustainable solution, which will raise customer expectations further...and on and on the cycle continues! Regular readers know the score, but the secret to watching trends is to relentlessly ask yourself: which innovations are raising expectations among our customers? Are we well-placed to ride the following wave?

Shameless plug alert! If you have colleagues or friends within a short hop of Sydney’s beautiful harbour who would benefit from joining us at The Museum of Contemporary Art on Thursday, 29 August to explore The Trends for 2020, then we’d be eternally grateful if you could forward them this will they be ;) 

Can’t make it to Sydney? We’re hosting Trends for 2020 events all over the world »