German retailers such as Otto and Tchibo are teaming up with couriers such as DHL to introduce reusable packaging.
The Praxpack initiative, which is funded by the Federal Ministry of Education and Research, aims to see reusable packages introduced by the beginning of 2020.
The customer receives the goods in a Repack bag; after removing their goods, the customer folds the bag and sends it to a return address.
The goal is to save resources and reduce waste as well as CO2 emissions.
The collaboration started in June 2019 and is expected to run until 2022.
"With this three-year project, the Otto Group wants to contribute to the establishment and dissemination of reusable systems in online retail in order to substantially reduce the packaging-related use of resources (and related to this, the amount of waste) in the medium term," said an Otto spokesperson.
The spokesperson said the company was trialling the RePack product as one potential solution to reduce waste.
Otto is aiming to halve its CO2 emissions by 2020 compared to the 2006 base.
Tchibo aims to become a “100% sustainable business”, although it does not strictly define this or give a timeframe. Recently Tchibo expanded its clothing rental service, allowing customers to rent clothing online.
Nanda Bergstein, director of corporate responsibility, said: "We believe that sharing and reusing resources is an important answer to the pressing issue of our time, how we as a company and society can protect the environment and leave a liveable world to the next generation.”