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Founder Fridays

Why We're Pausing Our Beta Glass-Return Program

This month we will be pausing our Beta Glass-Return Program.
The program allowed Keapers to send back used candle tumbler free of charge. We then inspected, cleaned and restored as many elements as possible for re-use, or in the worst case, commercial recycling.

We want to be totally transparent about what we’ve learned, why we’re pausing this program, and what the future holds.

What We Learned

We launched the Beta Glass-Return Program in 2018 to learn more about the interest in and practical aspects of a returns program. When we launched it, we had some basic questions we hoped to answer:

  1. Will anyone be interested in returning glasses? 
  2. Will anyone actually return the glasses? 
  3. Can we enable a returns program at all?
  4. Can we enable a returns program that makes environmental and economic sense?

The Beta helped prove that the answer to the first three questions is a definite “Yes.”



Why We’re Pausing The Program

We’re pausing the program for now due to our inability to currently manage it in an efficient manner. That’s not to say we haven’t made progress. We created a smooth sign-up process and a simple way to add return labels to our subscription accounts, and we found more cost effective ways to send you return labels.

That said, the economics of the returns program were challenging. When factoring in shipping, labor, and processing costs, for every glass reclaimed we were losing an additional $11-12.

  1. Each return label cost us ~$7 in shipping and $0.35 in label costs.
  2. Each return package took us 5 minutes to process. Often, the box and base returned too damaged to be re-used, leaving only the glass to be reclaimed.
  3. Cleaning the glasses was done manually, and took 5-10 minutes per glass total. 
  4. The total cost of processing and cleaning a return glass was ~$6-7 in Keap team salaries.
  5. The returned glasses are only worth about $2 in reclaimed costs to us.

Alongside the economic aspect, it became unclear to us whether the amount of material we were successfully re-processing outweighed the additional carbon footprint of the extra shipping.

We considered charging you for the return labels, but it became clear that we need to give the Glass-Return Program some deeper thought before continuing or expanding it, especially since our ultimate goal is for a high percentage of total subscribers to be using it.

What the Future Holds

We want to take the lessons we have learned towards launching an improved version of our Returns Program. With ingenuity, investment, and the continued support of pioneering customers, we know we’ll figure it out.

As we look to the future, if you have an interest in shaping our future Returns Program please take this two-minute survey to give us some deeper insights.

I want to end by thanking those who took part in this incredibly important aspect of Keap these last few years. In the meantime, I hope our tips on reusing your tumblers continue to be helpful for everyone.

Keep the fire burning,

—Stephen, Keap Owner

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