Photo: Hey Circle

Hey Circle: Send sustainably again and again

With reusable solutions for e-commerce, Hey Circle is declaring war on the mountains of waste from paper cartons and the associated environmental impact. Doris Diebold, founder and managing director, spoke to us about her drive, her plans and the power of the single-use lobby.

Munich Startup: What does Hey Circle do? What problem do you solve?

Doris Diebold, Hey Circle: We are putting an end to the mountains of waste from e-commerce by offering online retailers and their customers reusable shipping packaging as an alternative to disposable cardboard boxes. This way, we save 94% waste and 76% CO2 emissions over 50 rounds.

Munich Startup: But that’s nothing out of the box!

Doris Diebold, Hey Circle: That would be nice! In reality, however, consumers hardly have a choice when they order something online. Although there are the first reusable providers in the parcel sector, more than 99 percent of the 4.5 billion shipments in Germany are sent in packaging that is indirectly produced for the garbage can. To change this, we offer a large selection of packaging sizes that covers the entire market and a complementary IT solution that supports online retailers with returns and deposit processing.

Hey Circle: Positive impact through waste avoidance

Munich Startup: What’s your founding story?

Doris Diebold, Hey Circle: For me, the moment came in 2019 that I really wanted to create a positive impact with my work. I was already making an effort to avoid waste in my everyday life, for example at the supermarket and through conscious consumption. However, when it came to online shopping – which plays a big role as a mother of two – I couldn’t find a solution at first. So I simply did it myself! I quit my good job at a large company, got to work, found a founding partner in Morris Kurz and a strong network. After the GmbH was founded in April 2021, I entered the market with my first products and my first customers in spring 2022. And somewhere in between was Corona, but I made the best of it. After all, Corona has even fueled e-commerce and increased the urgency of the reusable solution.

Munich Startup: What have been your biggest challenges so far?

Doris Diebold, Hey Circle: Convincing companies that change in logistics is easier than they thought. Every company is aware that things can’t go on as before, but often a “never change a running system” mindset still prevails. However, the vast majority of companies that carry out a test with us stick with it and gradually expand sustainable shipping.

Another current challenge is political support – and the power of the disposable lobby. This actually affects all companies that work sustainably. That’s why we welcome any progress made by society as a whole and any customer who wants to establish reusable packaging alongside us.

Reusable quota for e-commerce from 2030

Munich Startup: Where would you like to be in one year, where would you like to be in five years?

Doris Diebold, Hey Circle: In one year, we want to have replaced around 2.2 million items of disposable packaging and crack the 10 million mark the following year. The reusable quota for e-commerce is coming in 2030, so more and more companies will opt for reusable shipping packaging and finally offer their customers the sustainable option that I myself had been looking for in vain.

Munich Startup: How have you experienced Munich as a startup location so far?

Doris Diebold, Hey Circle: Right from the start, there was a lot of support, for example from our business angels, and suitable funding programs. We also have many opportunities to exchange ideas with other startups that are working on the topic of reusable products. You could probably go so far as to describe Munich as a hotspot for the reusable scene.

Munich Startup: Public transport or bike?

Doris Diebold, Hey Circle: It all depends on the employees. Around half of the Hey Circle team in Munich live in the city center, the others commute by public transport. It’s probably remarkable how much we come together in the office: Everyone can spend as many days as they like in the home office, but working together, exchanging ideas or cooking plays a major role in our corporate culture.