Returnable Packaging Prevents Damage and Cuts Waste in the Short Term, and Saves Money in the Not-So-Long Term
PolyFlex has long known the value of reusable shipping packages and containers. After all, it’s a major part of what we do.
The waste in one-way shipping containers, however, is a critical environmental and budgetary issue for shippers, and when considering the long-term savings available with returnables, it’s an issue that has an economical solution.
Most consumer, wholesale and industrial goods, an estimated 95 percent, are shipped in corrugated boxes. The boxes are used once, maybe twice. Many of them are eventually tossed into a recycling bin, but a larger percentage of those worn boxes just end up in a landfill after delivery. For wholesale and industrial goods, however, that’s just the beginning of the story. Besides the landfill waste, there’s an economic toll for one way shipping containers.
The cost of a single-use corrugated container can be 95 percent less than the initial cost of a reusable plastic container. If you think that seems like a no brainer for picking a single-use over a reusable, think again. That reusable container can likely be used 250 times or more, resulting in its long-term cost of 92 percent less per use than the continued purchase and throwaway of corrugated boxes over the same period. So there’s a clear advantage in just the cost between throwaways and returnables.
Another consideration, however, is reduced damage caused to products during shipping. Reusable containers are normally sturdier than one-way containers. They’re built to last, and can be custom designed to secure and protect what’s in them. As a result, there’s more savings for the supplier and less complaints from the shipper.
The reusable containers can also reduce labor costs. No one has to beak down the corrugated containers, and moving the reusable containers from a production line is often simpler. Finally, no disposal cost.
Reusable containers can also be designed with features that facilitate handling, shipping and storage: They include:
- Ability to nest
Not all returnable plastic containers come with collapsible sides, but many doing, taking up less storage between uses, and saving space in the truck during the return trip to the shipper. Whether the returnable containers collapse or not, they’re normally made so the same type of containers next into each other, allowing for easier and more secure stacking.