Sustainable reusable packaging increases safety and reliability

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Packaging has once again become a hot topic for the supply chain as Covid crossed borders. Companies in the packaging industry have long invested in innovative technologies that could improve safety and efficiency. Breanna Herbert, Associate Product Manager and Sustainability Lead at ORBIS shares with us what are the latest trends in packaging and how the industry is responding to the increased safety requirements.

Sustainable packaging starts with the design. Dimensional cubing describes how a certain packaging product is designed by its footprint, which can allow for more products in the packaging system as well as more packaging units to be filled in a truckload. ‘The more units that a truck can hold allows for fewer return trips and more parts per trip, offering environmental and cost-saving benefits,’ Herbert explains.

Certain designs allow for more recycled content to be used, such as recycled HDPE or PP material. And the molding process is also a consideration. Low pressure injection-molding allows for increased recycled content.

‘For example, the Odyssey® pallet by ORBIS is made of 100% recycled material and is also completely recyclable at the end of its service life,’ Herbert adds.

Many innovative materials are being used to add to the sustainability of the packaging and to elevate the brand. Recovered coastline plastic waste is being recovered near waterways in primarily low income countries. Local residents are contracted to pick up and collect material and prevent plastic from entering the oceans. Suppliers grind material to ship to manufacturers to use in the molding process.


Repurposed consumer products or extra scrap created through the manufacturing process that can typically be inadequately disposed of can now find a new home by being repurposed into packaging. Some reusable packaging companies also offer buy-back programs, where they will purchase obsolete packaging that has reached its end of life and repurpose it into new packaging products.

Managing solutions
In order to accelerate the return on your packaging investment and add efficiency to your supply chain, reusable packaging needs to be managed properly. Without a packaging management process, empty packaging that sits unused can result In inefficient dwell time.

Return-packaging routing is seldom optimized, leading to a missed opportunity to consolidate assets and return to their proper location. The time drivers spend at facilities waiting to drop off or pick up loads is another problem. Reducing dwell time is crucial to improving supply chain efficiency.

Reusable packaging management (RPM) services help cut the time and effort needed to track, retrieve, clean and inventory packaging assets. Having a management process in place through a third-party management provider will help identify areas of the supply chain where packaging is not being handled properly. RPM services also help with dwell time by keeping packaging in use and supply chains moving. Through the use of radio frequency identification (RFID) tracking technology, companies can track where their reusable packaging is located in its journey through the supply chain. Return reusable packaging system at the end of its life to the supplier to be recycled. After the recycling process, recycled material content can be repurposed into new reusable packaging. ✷

The rise in e-commerce sales has increased the need for efficiently cubed-out truckloads to move the product in the supply chain faster and more efficiently to stock distribution centers. Reusable packaging offers dimensional consistency, as well as stack-and-nest capabilities that optimize space in a standard trailer. Also, for in-store operations, reusable packaging products that are considered retail-ready are growing in popularity, since they require less touches by retail associates (e.g., mobile pallets or mobile dollies with trays for consumers to shop from). Time saved means associates are available to fulfill e-commerce orders or help in-store customers.

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