How does Plastic reusable packaging support sustainability and simplify retail supply chains ?
Packaging plays an important role in safely distributing products throughout today's society and supply chains. With a consumption of about 40% of plastics in Europe, the packaging sector is a large user of materials. Packaging has a lot of environmental impacts, while it also represents a significant cost in the current supply system. To overcome these challenges, reusable plastic packaging has been suggested as an option to significantly reduce environmental impacts, especially in the retail market where the legal environment is becoming more and more challenging.
Actually, the increasing environmental pressure on the economic system requires a change of our economic paradigm. This pushes societies and companies around the world to increase the efficiency of natural resources use and to reduce the overall environmental impact of daily activities.
To reach the challenge of the circular economy, we need to close material loops. This means reusing products (plastic packaging) and thus materials (plastics) for as long as possible to reduce the need for virgin materials and reduce the environmental footprint
In the retail and e-commerce market, packaging can be used for storage (static packaging) as well as for transit (dynamic packaging). As long as we can identify closed loops or a need for durable and robust packaging, plastic reusable and returnable are well indicated.
In the retail supply chain we identify different loops whether it’s at the upstream flow or at the downstream flow. Here is a simplified view of the retail supply chain from the industrial (primary manufacturer) to the retail store.
Upstream flow : Between the primary manufacturer & the warehouse
We identify regular loops and as such, the need for reusable packaging to transport the goods from the manufacturer to the retail warehouse. Plastic foldable containers are particularly well adapted for these kinds of loops as they can transport any type of goods (textile, food, beverage, DIY) with optimal protection and be returned folded, allowing for considerable gain of CO² for return trips. They can be used for multiple trips and many years (up to 20 years in certain cases), thus becoming a great alternative to one-way solutions.
Middle stream flow : at the retail warehouse
Here is mainly static packaging solutions that are indicated. Especially for the e-commerce market, warehouses are huge and have an incredible need for easy and durable storage solutions. Plastic picking bins and shelving units are perfect to build complete storage systems. They are quick to assemble and to install, easy to use, lightweight and very robust to accommodate quite all types of small and middle size goods. Moreover, they are resistant to moisture and can be designed according to your needs.
Downstream flow : between the retail warehouse and the stores
Here is a second closed loop where plastic can be very useful. Again for picking and cross docking plastic foldable container used at the warehouse are particularly suitable. They are lightweight, modular and compatible with existing packaging and trays, prevent from musculoskeletal disorders and are reusable for multiple round trips.
As a consequence, plastic reusable and returnable packaging have several advantages being economic, ecological and social to help you, as retailers, achieve your corporate social responsibility policy.