The founders of We Carry: Mischa Wendel and Nelly Mathias
Photo: We Carry

We Carry: Reusable packaging for bakeries

Everyone knows them, most people have them at home: sustainable cloth bags for transporting food. However, these are often not on hand when shopping, so we end up using disposable bags again. To avoid unnecessary packaging waste, We Carry has therefore developed the first reusable deposit system for cloth bags in bakeries. Nelly Mathias, one of the two founders, explains how the idea came about, the reservations they face and how We Carry is set to grow.

Munich Startup: What does We Carry do? What problem do you solve?

Nelly Mathias, We Carry: We Carry is the first deposit system for reusable packaging in bakeries. We currently use 4.6 billion disposable bags to buy baked goods in Germany. That’s quite a lot and we usually only use the bags for a few minutes.

Our main core product is that we offer a service for bakeries. We also call this “packaging-as-a-service”. We take care of provision, collection and cleaning. The bakeries have no effort for this but are able to offer an alternative to disposable packaging. For the end customer, it works quite simply with a deposit – comparable to a bottle deposit.

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

Nelly Mathias: Yes, and no! Reusable bags for bread and co. are indeed already available everywhere. But that’s exactly the problem. We all have one of these bags somewhere at home. Most of the time we can’t find it or forget it when we want to buy baked goods.

Buying a new one every time? That’s unattractive. Both economically and ecologically. That’s why We Carry is making a solution available at the point of sale that we already know – namely buying and transporting baked goods in cloth bags.

We Carry: the fight against disposable bags

Munich Startup: What’s your founding story?

Nelly Mathias: My parents have disposable paper bags all over the kitchen. Mainly for our family dog, who then gets fed the stale bread. That always really bothered me. I also noticed that I kept reaching for the disposable bag myself. Because I don’t have my bag with me again. Mischa felt the same way. That’s why we got together and came up with the idea of We Carry.

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

Nelly Mathias: It certainly takes time to really let the reusable idea mature in discussions with bakeries. At the beginning of 2023, many introduced deposit cups for coffee and co. as part of the reusable offer obligation. This has often caused mixed feelings among the businesses.

We therefore really want to establish an approach that does not involve any effort directly in the business. If deposit cups often have to be washed directly in the bakery, we also cover this part. Nonetheless, we have to address these fears about the possible additional costs of reusable cups again and again. Because at the end of the day, reusable is not only more ecological, but also more economical.

Comprehensive service for Munich and other cities

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

Nelly Mathias: By the end of 2024, we will have established our reusable solution in two more German cities – including the logistics processes in the background. We will also make a real nationwide impression in our home base of Munich and be available in many bakery chains. On the technological side, the serialization of our reusable bags will be completed by the middle of the year.

In five years, we will be an established and proven sustainable alternative to disposable packaging in Germany and at least one other European market. More than 20 percent of all baked goods sales in Germany are made via reusable We-Carry bags.

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

Nelly Mathias: We can’t really think of a better place to start a business. The ecosystem is huge and also helps you to become better known. This in turn makes it much easier to build a network of supporters and potential investors.

Munich Startup: Public transport or bike?

Nelly Mathias: Absolutely bicycle! Not least because we currently use a cargo bike to deliver and collect our reusable bags in the city. It’s sometimes exhausting, but a lot of fun!