Thursday, 19 January 2012

What is Reusable Packaging?

What is reusable packaging?

Def­i­n­i­tion of Reusable Packaging

In its broad­est sense, reusable pack­ag­ing includes reusable pal­lets, racks, bulk con­tain­ers, hand-held con­tain­ers and dun­nage that move prod­uct effi­ciently and safely through­out the sup­ply chain. Reusable pack­ag­ing is typ­i­cally used by manufacturers/processors and their suppliers/customers in a well-organized sup­ply chain, with very tightly man­aged ship­ping loops. The pack­ag­ing is con­structed of durable mate­ri­als such as metal, plas­tic or wood and is designed to with­stand the rough han­dling of a typ­i­cal logis­tics system.

Reusable pack­ag­ing can be:
Owned and man­aged by the user
Owned by the user and man­aged by a 3rd party
Rented by the user from a 3rd party pool­ing com­pany
Trans­ferred between mul­ti­ple end users and recy­cling com­pa­nies
Exchanged between mem­bers of a co-op or association

Through reuse, it offers a rapid return on invest­ment and a lower cost-per-trip than single-use pack­ag­ing prod­ucts while typ­i­cally offer­ing more effi­cient stor­age, han­dling and dis­tri­b­u­tion of prod­ucts at all points in the sup­ply chain. As the num­ber of trips increases, the cost-per-trip can decrease, while the pack­ag­ing con­tin­ues to deliver ben­e­fits (prod­uct pro­tec­tion, worker safety, stor­age effi­ciency, etc.

Trans­port pack­ag­ing must meet four require­ments to be con­sid­ered “reusable” by the RPA:

1. The selected reusable pack­ag­ing is reused for the same or sim­i­lar appli­ca­tion
2. The pack­ag­ing must be able to meet the orig­i­nal design require­ments for three con­sec­u­tive uses (i.e. two reuses).
3. Dur­ing its use­ful life, the pack­ag­ing is repeat­edly recov­ered, inspected, repaired and reis­sued into the sup­ply chain for reuse.
4. There is an exist­ing process for recy­cling and/or reuse of the pack­ag­ing at end-of-life.

Reusable pack­ag­ing is advan­ta­geous for mul­ti­ple indus­tries and deploy­able at all points within the sup­ply chain. Indus­tries using reusable pack­ag­ing include:

• Auto­mo­tive
• Food/Grocery
• Phar­ma­ceu­ti­cal
• Elec­tron­ics
• Aero­space
• Chem­i­cals
• Tex­tile
• Bev­er­age
• Pro­duce
• Gen­eral Man­u­fac­tur­ing
• Appliance

Typ­i­cal trans­port and/or sta­tic appli­ca­tions for raw mate­ri­als, sup­pli­ers, cross-dock/consolidation points, man­u­fac­tur­ing, dis­tri­b­u­tion or retail, may include:

• Inbound ship­ments
• Out­bound ship­ments
• Work-in-process
• Assembly/fabrication
• Fill­ing
• Pro­cess­ing
• Re-Packing
• Pick­ing
• Stor­age
• Distribution


Reusable pack­ag­ing offers a wide range of eco­nomic, social and envi­ron­men­tal ben­e­fits over single-use pack­ag­ing at all lev­els of the sup­ply chain.


• Reduces over­all pack­ag­ing costs
• Rapid return on invest­ment (ROI)
• Reduces costly prod­uct dam­age
• Reduces labor costs
• Reduces inven­tory, requires less space
• Reduced cost-per-trip
• Improves trans­porta­tion effi­ciency through stan­dard­ized loads, result­ing in fewer trips and reduced fuel costs.
• Resid­ual value at the end of its ser­vice life


• Recy­clable at the end of its ser­vice life
• Improves work­place safety
• Improves work­place effi­ciency


• Pre­vents waste from enter­ing the solid waste stream
• Reduces green­house gas emis­sions
• Sup­ports source reduc­tion
• Requires less energy

Adop­tion Drivers

A sys­tem­atic, well-planned reusable pack­ag­ing pro­gram makes sense for many types of appli­ca­tions, par­tic­u­larly those with some or all of the fol­low­ing characteristics:

• High vol­umes of solid waste
• Fre­quent shrink­age or prod­uct dam­age
• Expen­sive expend­able pack­ag­ing
• Under­uti­lized trailer space in trans­porta­tion
• Inef­fi­cient storage/warehouse space
• Worker safety or ergonomic issues
• Sig­nif­i­cant need for cleanliness/hygiene
• Need for uni­ti­za­tion
• Fre­quent trips

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