RPCs vs Corrugated Cardboard in Grocery Supply Chains

corrugated cardboard boxes

Stronger, smarter, faster, friendlier and just better looking — for sheer performance chops, RPCs really do have it all, especially when compared to corrugated cardboard.

Now don’t misunderstand us; corrugated cardboard can be very useful in certain applications. It’s great when you’re packing up to move, and a big cardboard box can provide countless hours of entertainment for little kids. But when it comes to protecting perishables in your grocery supply chain, corrugated cardboard has its disadvantages. Here are seven:

  1. Crushing disappointment — Sure, their angular shapes and flat surfaces can make it easy to stack one corrugated cardboard box atop another. However, stack them too high or heavy, and those boxes can suffer crush damage — and you’ll experience crushing disappointment when their contents are also damaged.
  2. Backaches, baby — In all honesty, people are at least partially to blame for this drawback of corrugated cardboard, because not everyone follows safe lifting practices when loading or unloading trucks. However, corrugated boxes don’t usually have handles that are standard on Tosca RPCs. Those handles make it easier to lift and move RPCs, reducing the risk of back injuries.
  3. Travel sickness — Corrugated cardboard doesn’t travel as well as RPCs. When you use corrugated boxes for transport packaging, the variety of sizes and shapes can make it difficult to optimize cube utilization, leaving you with wasted space on trucks, which also wastes fuel or could cause load shift that damages contents. RPCs are designed to stack together securely, making it easier to use every inch of cube space to its optimum capacity.
  4. Out, damp box! — It’s a reality of grocery supply chains: if you have perishables, you have moisture. Corrugated cardboard doesn’t do so well with moisture; it absorbs condensation and even leakage from packages. If your corrugated cardboard gets wet enough, its structural integrity will fail. Because they’re made of plastic, RPCs can shrug off moisture and keep doing their job protecting eggs, meat or produce.
  5. It’s better to look good — Grocery stores sometimes put product on shelves in the corrugated cardboard boxes it was transported in but with the varying sizes and different graphics – it can sometimes make for a chaotic presentation.  RPCs frame the product and virtually disappear making the product the hero – not the packaging. In fact, studies have shown that consumers actually embrace the use of RPCs in displays. Better still, those good-looking RPCs can greatly reduce the time it takes to stock shelves. It takes just two minutes to stock a 4-foot shelf with fresh eggs when using Tosca RPCs with SmartWall technology for the display. By comparison, handstacking the same-size shelf can take 20 minutes.
  6. What a waste — Corrugated cardboard boxes comprise the greatest weight of manufactured packaging product in the waste stream, according to Waste360. That’s a huge amount of tonnage traveling through the waste stream every year, including the portion that gets diverted to landfills and won’t be reused as intended. Every RPC that grocery supply chains use eliminates 1 to 1.5 pounds of corrugated cardboard from entering the supply chain.
  7. One-way ticket — Yes, it’s true that a lot of the corrugated cardboard packaging used every year gets recycled. However, it’s still, technically, single-use packaging, because your supply chain won’t be reusing the product. Perhaps the corrugated cardboard your grocery stores recycle will get reused somewhere else, but meanwhile your operation has incurred the costs associated with using, discarding and recycling a single-use packaging product. Corrugated cardboard boxes only go one way through the supply chain. By contrast, each Tosca RPC can be reused more than 100 times before it gets recycled … to make new RPCs. Now that is truly a circular economy!

Corrugated cardboard has been around for a long time, and its usefulness in non-perishable supply chain applications, pretty much guarantees its won’t be disappearing anytime soon. However, when it comes to choosing a transport packaging material that better protects perishables in your grocery supply chain, RPCs clearly have the advantage — and so will you when you finally close the box on corrugated cardboard.

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

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