The Baler: Every Grocery Retailer’s Money Pit

In a given day at the typical grocery store, hundreds, if not thousands, of corrugated boxes are hauled from trucks, unpacked with human hands, manually ripped apart, separated from their non-paper components and carted off to that back-of-store behemoth, the baler.

All told, supermarkets in the U.S. each process eight to 30 tons of corrugated solid waste per month, reports While many grocers justify that on the basis that many such materials are recycled, others never put pen to paper to consider what they’re unnecessarily spending on labor costs through all that manual processing. Consider, for example, the typical journey of a corrugated box of canned goods through your store once it’s taken off a delivery truck:

  1. An associate (we’ll call him Joe) uses a dolly, cart or old-fashioned muscle power to move the box to your sales floor so he can individually unload the cans onto a shelf. In the process, the box takes up space in the aisle, blocking shoppers’ view of (and access to) your merchandise.
  2. When that blockage becomes too problematic, Joe stops his unpacking, loads up a cart with his empty boxes, abandons the sales floor and hauls his awkward load into your backroom or back parking lot for baling.
  3. At the baler, two other associates are already in line with their stacked-up carts, emptying boxes into the baler. The three associates start chatting about the TV show they watched last night, and 10-20 minutes go by.
  4. When it’s Joe’s turn to use the baler which could be 20-30 minutes later, something goes wrong and the machinery jams (for the fourth time that week). The associates wait for a manager while debating what could be wrong.
  5. The frustrated manager must then leave the sales floor to try to fix the problem.
  6. Joe and the other associates get back to their unpacking, only to repeat the same process an hour later.

Baleful baler? RPCs can relieve your pain

Fortunately, that vicious cycle and wasted time can be addressed at your stores. Increasingly, grocers are taking a closer look at labor costs and realizing the huge advantage of using RPCs versus corrugated boxes to ship merchandise. Not only do RPCs eliminate the need to slice, flatten, transport and crush cardboard boxes via a baler, they also eliminate the need to transfer your goods from boxes to shelves. RPCs can go from a transport package direct to shelf if desired, allowing them to also serve as highly efficient merchandising tools. RPCs also offer many other advantages; they are sturdy, clean, attractive, uniformly sized, and designed to protect goods from damage in transport. Once emptied, they’re simply placed on an empty pallet in your backroom for return to a DC or sort site.

You might wonder, “But what about my OCC credits?!?!” The question to consider is “what is the cost of labor to manage those recycling credits?” Likely it is not even close to the value of the OCC credit.

If you still aren’t convinced the baler is not your friend, consider the danger and liability involved in exposing untrained associates to such machinery. In one study, the Bureau of Labor Statistics Census of Fatal Occupational Injuries recorded 34 U.S. deaths related to compactors and balers over a six-year period.

Reusable Containers can help you reduce waste — packaging waste and labor waste. click here to use our Impact Calculator to discover the value of reusables.

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