Why returnable packaging is a win for grocery retailers, suppliers, and consumers

Woman Standing with Canvas Grocery Bag

As grocery retailers or suppliers, you know how closely consumers equate “new” with freshness and quality. You would never resell used product — even if regulators allowed it — because it would just be bad business. But reusable packaging is another story.

The concept is gaining wide acceptance in the grocery industry, and for very good reasons. Reusable packaging can reduce costs, shrink, and lower your operation’s environmental impact, while increasing customer satisfaction and recognition of your company as an environmentally-aware brand.

What is returnable packaging?

Any packaging material that can be used more than once to efficiently move product through the supply chain, from storing and transporting to display, can be considered reusable packaging. The Reusable Packaging Association notes this type of packaging is typically constructed of durable materials such as metal, plastic or wood that can stand up to “the rough handling of a typical logistics system.”

Multiple types of reusable packaging achieve a variety of goals. For example, Tosca’s Reusable Plastic Containers (RPCs) are intended to be particularly valuable for handling and transporting perishables like produce, protein, and eggs.

Why should you consider returnable packaging for your operation?

You’d be hard-pressed to find a business decision that delivers benefits on as many levels as reusable packaging. Reusable packaging delivers when it comes to the three Es — economic, ergonomic and environmental.   

  • Economic— Reusable packaging improves efficiency throughout every step of the supply chain. At a grower or supplier site, reusable packaging makes it easier to pack product. RPCs provide superior protection during transit, meaning less damage and shrink. Improved cube efficiencies can allow suppliers to put more product on a truck, meaning fewer trucks on the road. At the distribution center, product arrives in good condition. It won’t shift during transit, so there’s no need to restack collapsed pallets; you can easily rack RPCs in place of traditional packaging materials. This leads to significant reductions in shrink and labor costs. Often, RPCs can transport product right to the sales floor, saving teams the tedious work of unloading boxes and hand-stacking product.
  • ErgonomicWhen you display product in reusable packaging, you not only save stocking time, but you also may be saving your workers’ backs, too! Sturdy handles and stackability make RPCs the ideal way to transport product with less back strain at every step, from growers to distribution center to stores.
  • EnvironmentalReusable packaging is just that: reusable. It doesn’t end up in the trash or the baler when its job is complete. Instead, it is collected by the packaging owner, cleaned and prepared for its next job, transporting more product to a new location. Because RPCs can provide improved cube efficiencies, it may be possible to put fewer trucks on the road, reducing fuel consumption and greenhouse gas emissions. What’s more, when you let consumers know your company uses reusable packaging, you’ll underscore your reputation as an organization that cares about the environment. Multiple studies show that consumers — especially millennials — like doing business with companies that do their share to protect the environment.

With so many inherent benefits, it’s easy to see why reusable packaging is gaining momentum across the industry. To learn more about reusable packaging solutions for your business, contact us today.

To learn more about how reusables create more efficient supply chains, click here.


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