H&M Germany Challenges Young Entrepreneurs to Design Sustainable Packaging

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Nineteen emerging entrepreneurs from around the world came to Hamburg with one common goal, to design an innovative packaging solution which would amplify H&M’s sustainability efforts. We represent 14 countries, speak 23 languages and traveled over 134,388 km to get to Germany. We came because H&M Germany gave us a challenge, to develop a packaging solution which is economically, socially and environmentally sustainable.

The Challenge

This project is the result of an ongoing partnership between H&M Germany and the DO School, an innovative educational program which empowers social entrepreneurs all over the world to turn their ideas into action. The one year fellowship program kicks off with a ten week incubation phase in which fellows work together to solve a real-world challenge. With the Packaging Challenge, we were given the task to create an innovative packaging solution for one of H&M Germany’s product lines. In this case, our product was shoes.

Our goal was to minimize waste, reduce energy, optimize the handling process and create maximum recycling opportunities along the way. By taking a complete look at the supply chain from shipping, to storage and finally reaching the consumer market, this challenge was an opportunity to develop a more efficient and environmentally friendly process that can be scaled for significant environmental impact. 

The Solution

With the support of the H&M staff, we developed four prototypes. Each concept addresses a specific type of product and a specific area of the supply chain. Our four solutions reduce waste, optimize the handling process and make use of the most sustainable materials. From a triangular shaped shoebox that can pack twice as many shoes, to a sustainable hanger that stays in the store – our solutions are creative, innovative and forward-thinking.

The Program

The DO School provides innovative learning that creates real impact. The one-year DO School program is designed to train, coach and empower outstanding emerging social entrepreneurs to kickstart their own social ventures in their home countries. The program brings together experienced leaders with the next generation of impact entrepreneurs and enables them to exchange knowledge and experience in a hands-on, effective and fun way.

The program takes place in two phases, the ten-week Incubation Phase on campus and the ten-month Implementation Phase in the Fellows’ home countries. During the Incubation Phase we take three courses: Challenge Lab, Venture Lab and Media Lab. In this phase the Fellows complete the Challenge – a hands-on group task – and plan their individual social ventures. In this case, our Challenge was to design a sustainable packaging system for H&M.

By the end of the ten weeks, the Fellows have co-created a concrete service, product or campaign as an answer to the group Challenge and learned hands-on how to turn an idea into action. In addition, we turn our venture ideas into viable business plans that are ready for implementation. 

The Implementation Phase is the second phase of the DO School program. It focuses on the venture implementation in each of our home countries. During this ten-month phase, each Fellow works on starting up their seed venture supported by the Venture Lab, which is delivered online through the DO School Community. Fellows create real social change in their communities whilst learning how to take action.

Click here for more information about The Do School and to read the Packaging Challenge Blog.

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