What is Reusable Packaging?
What is Reusable Packaging?
Vantage Plastics makes a variety of products and we consistently find new ways to diversify the capabilities we have. Currently, we put a lot of our focus on the reusable packaging and material handling sectors working with multiple industries. We were recently at a career fair when a student asked, “What exactly is reusable packaging?”, which helped trigger this months blog post topic!
To put it simply, Reusable packaging is packaging that is used more than one time. It is often designed to promote durability, so it is made with robust materials such as High Density Polyethylene. Designers consider features such as ease of use, ease of cleaning, ease of repair, collapsibility, or nesting. These features provide the ability to return the packaging in a condensed format when not loaded which saves costs within the logistics loop. Reusable packaging can include primary consumer packaging (ex. beverage containers), retail, wholesale, as well as transport, and industrial packaging. Vantage Plastics specializes in heavy gauge thermoforming, so we will focus this article on transport and industrial applications for reusable packaging and material handling solutions.
Main Types of Reusable Packaging and Material Handling Products
There are several categories of reusable packaging and material handling items typically found in industry. Examples of reusable packaging include:
- Reusable pallets
- Pallet collars
- Reusable handheld containers
- Reusable bulk containers
- Reusable dunnage
- Reusable wraps and straps
- Custom trays
- Collapsible Bins
- Other custom applications
Reusable packaging and material handling products are a great option for many companies and very attractive with the multiple positive benefits they present. Some benefits include positive economic, sustainability, and social outcomes.
Positive economic benefits come from the direct savings in packaging and disposal cost as a result of repeated reuse of the packaging. Many argue that reusable packaging has a higher initial purchase price than other options. While we agree, yes it is more expensive in the initial purchase, it lowers cost per trip through repeated reuse. Another economic benefit is from the productivity gains where reusable packaging better addresses the ergonomic needs of the work process. An example of this value would be a design for better parts presentation to assembly line workers. Having an improved presentation can result in faster production along with reduced risk of workplace injury.
Customized reusable packaging also creates better protection of parts and reduced damage. Storage and transportation efficiencies result from their superior strength for stacking of full containers, and when empty, through collapsible or nestable design of pallets and containers.
Sustainability is supported by the avoidance of expendable packaging, therefore not needing to dispose of it or to divert it away from the landfill through efforts to recycle. In 2015, Vantage Plastics implemented a recycling facility to help reach our goal of being a more sustainable company. Our sister company, Edge Materials Management, focuses on industrial recycling and managing the afterlife of recyclable plastic products. This helped us become more centrally focused as an eco-friendly company and strengthen our sustainability initiative. Better product protection in reusable packaging also helps sustainability through reduction of damage and the investment of resources required to dispose of the ruined product as well as to manufacture and ship the replacement parts.
Social economics are improved when the reusable packaging is designed to improve ergonomics. This is done through the creation of drop doors that allow material handlers to work closely to items being handled or the handheld containers with handholds.
Conditions That Give Reusable Packaging the Greatest Advantage.
Below are conditions that will put you in a good position to take advantage of the savings offered by reusable packaging:
- High-volume shipments
- Frequent deliveries
- Shorter distances
- Dedicated delivery provider
- 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
Industries in Reusable Packaging
There are a diverse amount of industries that use reusable packaging that can be applied in many points throughout the supply chains. Some of these industries include:
- General Manufacturing
If you are in a spot where you are ready to use or wish to investigate reusable packaging, contact us! We are constantly investing in R&D within our operations and always finding the best ways to serve our customers.