Live long and prosper: just how long do RPCs really last?

live long

“Live long and prosper.” You don’t have to be a Star Trek fan to appreciate the sentiment. The desire for a long life spans virtually all cultures. Most people would also agree it’s important to not just live many years, but to live well and accomplish a lot during your lifetime.

A long, productive RPC life is also Tosca’s aspiration for every reusable container we put into grocery supply chains. When our reusable plastic containers (RPCs) are reused again and again over the years, they help reduce packaging waste by eliminating corrugated from entering the supply chain.

The EPA considers source reduction — reducing waste before it ever gets into the waste stream — as the most preferred means of waste management. Source reduction preserves natural resources, saves energy, reduces pollution and waste toxicity, and saves money for everyone, the EPA says. According to the agency’s Waste Management Hierarchy, reusing items and reducing packaging are two ways to pursue source reduction. RPCs achieve both goals.

Life-changing scenarios

It’s easy to understand how reusing something is better than throwing it away. However, when it comes to packaging for grocery supply chains, RPCs deliver multiple benefits in ways that are both simple and more nuanced. Here’s a scenario to help you compare the value of RPCs to single-use packaging materials like corrugated boxes:

On the same day in the year 2017, three things come into being: a child, a corrugated box and a reusable plastic container.

By the time the child reaches first grade, around age 7, that box created on the day he was born will be long gone — either to a landfill or recycling center — after a single or very short lifetime. Over the course of his life, the child will have played with and discarded numerous other cardboard boxes.

Meanwhile, by age 7 the RPC will still be going strong, preserving hundreds of pounds of perishable food, and preventing hundreds of pounds of corrugated from entering the waste stream. It will likely have several good years of life left, and when it’s no longer usable, it will begin a new life as it’s recycled to make the next generation of RPCs.

RPC Life – Living long by the numbers

Generally, we estimate the usable lifespan of a reusable container to be approximately 10-15 years. That said, Tosca has RPCs in our pool that literally have been with us since we started in the reusable plastic container business in the late 1990s.

To give you more perspective on how long and beneficial an RPC’s life is, consider these numbers:

By the time that child who was born the same year the RPC was made is ready to head to high school, the RPC will:

  • “Live” 168 months, which translates to 5,040 days, 120,960 hours, 7,257,600 minutes, or 435,456,000 seconds.
  • Be reused at least 100 times.
  • Remove 100 or more pounds of corrugated cardboard from landfills (1 pound for every time it’s reused).
  • Save its weight in perishable product like eggs, meat and produce hundreds of times over by protecting perishables better than corrugated boxes.

For the food industry, source reduction and reducing packaging waste are the final frontier. Every day, RPCs help grocery supply chains operate full speed ahead to boldly lead the way toward a more sustainable future for the industry and everyone it serves.

To learn more about how reusables can create more sustainable businesses, click here.

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