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How Reusable Transport Packaging Impacts Supply Chains

When it comes to your company’s supply chain, there are a lot of moving parts. If your company has fallen into an “if it’s not broke, don’t fix it” mindset, the benefits of reusable transport packaging may have fallen off your radar.

According to the Reusable Packaging Association 2020 State of the Industry Report, the global packaging market reached an estimated $950 billion in value this year with approximately $200 billion of that constituting transportation or transit packaging. In total, only about half of the $200 billion global transport packaging market is considered reusable transport packaging.

Unlike other packaging, reusable transport packaging is made to be used repeatedly and over long periods of time. Of course, unlike packaging that can be sent and forgotten, utilizing reusable transport packaging requires a management system that will track, recover and return the packaging back to you to be used again. If you are already considering to begin implementing reusable transport packaging, Alpega has a management solution.

What Is Reusable Transport Packaging?

As previously mentioned, reusable transport packaging is designed with reuse as a priority. According to the Reusable Packaging Association, pallets make up the largest portion of the reusable packaging market. However, other reusable packaging includes:

  • Rigid containers, crates, totes, trays and bins
  • Plastic-corrugated boxes, panels and sleeves
  • Foam-based transport packaging
  • Reusable plastic containers
  • Intermediate bulk containers
  • Dunnage and cargo protection
  • Racks
  • Carts and dollies
  • Tanks, drums and barrels

Because reusable packaging needs to withstand distance and reuse, it’s often made of wood, metal and/or plastic, or a combination of these materials. Reusable packing isn’t the same as recycled packaging, however. While reusable packaging can often eventually be recycled, the primary purpose is to reduce the amount of new packaging that is created, while packaging designed as recycled packaging won’t necessarily be used more than once.

What Are the Positive Contributions of Reusable Transport Packaging?

While up-front cost and management are often deterrents for companies, there are a lot of positive impacts of reusable transport packaging that create a positive return on investment.

Reusable packaging for transportation management systems

1. Safer handling of large, bulky or fragile items minimizing breakage during shipping

Large, bulky and fragile items are especially difficult to ship and can require costly specialized packaging. Because reusable packaging is designed with long-term use in mind, they’re inherently more durable and capable of withstanding rough handling, so the products inside are better insulated against any impact or force that could cause damage.

2. Reusable packaging lowers cost for transportation

Rather than paying for specialized packaging to be designed and manufactured as many times as necessary, reusable packaging can be designed and manufactured once to move as many goods as necessary over time.

3. Reusable transport packaging can aid in green or eco-friendly initiatives

Because reusable packaging is made once and used many times rather than having many packages that do the same job once, less raw material is used in production and less waste ends up in landfills and recycling centers. According to Reusable Packaging News, a study conducted by the Reusable Packaging Association and Franklin Associates found that, on average, reusable packaging required 39% less total energy use, produced 95% less solid waste and generated 29% less total greenhouse gases.

4. Reusable packaging creates long-term economic benefit opportunities

From saving money on creating new packaging over time, reduced waste management costs, improved worker safety and efficiency throughout the supply chain system, the cost benefits add up immediately. Especially during the current economic climate, businesses are trying to save money in any way they can. The up-front cost, time, and effort provide long-term savings across the board.

What to Take into Account

If your company is considering reusable transport packaging, there are a couple of things to take into account.

  • Major aspects of reusable transport packaging is that it’s condition is known so that good packaging can be returned for reuse, damaged packaging can be sent for repair, and lost packaging can be reported. The best way to do this is to establish a system in which the location, condition and quantity of these assets is known and can be addressed and handled appropriately and in a timely manner, saving time, money and materials. Technology systems like Alpega’s Reusable Packaging Management (RPM) software can manage and streamlines this process.
  • Do all those within your supply chain network understand reusable transport packaging principles? If they aren’t aware that the packaging needs to be retained and sent back, then you are out your time, money and resources.
  • Can your organization oversee keeping track of the assets? Again, software like Alpega’s RPM does the heavy lifting for you, but without an internal system to keep the information up to date and checked upon, reusable packaging can get lost or damaged.

Get Started!

Technology today has made it possible with a wide variety of new systems and processes to streamline supply chain management, including putting a reusable transport packaging program into use. Alpega’s RPM software puts the control in your hands by helping you successfully manage and track assets throughout the supply chain.

For more information or to get started, reach out to the Alpega team about RPM software today.

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