December 2019 | Commentary | Green Landscape: Supply Chain Sustainability

Four Ways Reusables Benefit the Circular Economy

Tags: Green Logistics, Packaging, Sustainability

The consumer-packaged goods (CPG) supply chain is changing. From faster, more frequent deliveries to specialty packaging, the way goods are handled and delivered has adapted and evolved. But change can come with consequences and the amount of packaging waste due to e-commerce has skyrocketed.

Aman Sangha, Product Manager, ORBIS Corporation, 800-999-8683

As a result, re-usability and sustainability are top of mind for many companies and consumers.

At its core, reusable packaging supports a circular economy. From cradle to grave, packaging can be manufactured, used, reused, and reprocessed without impacting the solid waste stream. This is a huge benefit considering limited- and one-time-use packaging contributes to the waste crisis.

Reusable packaging—totes, containers, racks, and pallets—can be a sustainable material handling solution, especially for transportation. Its durability, cleanability, and consistent dimensions create a more streamlined, environmentally friendly option for shippers.

Reusable packaging startups are changing the way CPG goods are delivered, but it is an option for the entire supply chain. CPG companies can fully embrace re-usability by incorporating this packaging in their warehouses, distribution centers, retail stores, and during transportation to meet the circular economy revolution head on.

In addition to waste reduction, here are three other ways reusable packaging can increase supply chain sustainability:

1. Reduces packaging waste. Reusable packaging has a long service life and can be used repeatedly throughout the supply chain to reduce waste accumulation. Reusable packaging also can eliminate multiple layers of paper, plastic bags, and other expendable packing materials to further reduce waste.

2. Increases full-load shipments. Inconsistent, unreliable packaging can result in unpredictable transportation conditions while standard and consistent dimensions—as seen in reusable packaging—can help ensure a fully cubed-out truckload with every shipment. Reusable packaging also can be right-sized to use the most truck space possible.

Reusable packaging manufacturers are even introducing lightweight options to accommodate for more product weight. In addition to improved pack ratios, these are instrumental features.

3. Decreases product damage and loss. Durable packaging can help prevent customers from receiving a damaged product. And with secure and stable stackability, reusable packaging can maintain product integrity throughout the supply chain.

4. Improves packaging recycling. To prevent packaging from entering landfills, reusable packaging is recovered, recycled, and reprocessed into other useful packaging. The right packaging provider can engineer a reusable packaging management and recycling system to track packaging, maximize utilization, and properly recycle reusable packaging at the end of its useful life, increasing sustainable packaging usage throughout the entire supply chain.

By investing in innovative supply chain solutions that embrace circular economy principles, companies can ensure competitive advantage, future growth, and customer confidence.






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