In 2012, the Reusable Packaging Association launched the very first Excellence in Reusable Packaging Award. This award recognizes primary (end) user companies and organizations that have developed and implemented measurable and innovative reusable transport packaging solutions in their supply chains. In the decade that followed, hundreds of companies spanning a variety of industries have submitted applications for the award, detailing the economic, environmental, and operational benefits their businesses have realized through the implementation of reusable packaging systems. As the 10th annual award application period opens with a due date of June 1, RPA reflects on the range and diversity of award-winning examples of reusable packaging solutions.
2012: Herman Miller
Herman Miller, an innovator in contemporary interior furnishings, switched from expendable packaging to a returnable filler with crosslink foam for the shipping and handling of an office chair component that had previously been shipped to the company in corrugated boxes. By converting to a reusable solution, the company quantified a variety of benefits, including a combined material and labor savings of $46,000, a reduction of 266 hours per year of handling time, and a diversion of 24,645 pounds of corrugated per year from landfill. Read the full case study here.
Finelite designs and manufactures high-performance, environmentally sustainable lighting solutions, and products for commercial, educational, and healthcare facilities. The company saved $28,000 in costs and eliminating 25,000 pounds of waste annually through the use of many types of reusables for storing and handling parts and for shipping materials between its factory in Union City, CA, and its strategic partners in Livermore, CA, and China. Read the full case study here.
2014: Svenska Retursystem
Svenska Retursystem led a program to establish a common reusable packaging pooling system for more than 200 food producers in Sweden and food manufacturers throughout Europe that export their goods to the Swedish trade, replacing single-use packaging. From the time of the program’s inception in 2001 to the award submission in 2014, nearly 1 billion crates had been delivered, resulting in a 25% cost savings ($18.7 million total across the industry); 725,000 labor hours reduced at retail stores, equivalent to $22 million annually; reduction of CO2 emissions by 44% reduction and waste by 50,000 tons. Read the full case study here.
2015: Subaru of Indiana
Subaru of Indiana Automotive Inc. took a fresh look at its existing reusable packaging program and uncovered new areas to gain deeper process improvements as well as more cost and environmental savings. SIA achieved a cost savings of nearly $16 million by re-purposing existing reusable packaging from earlier production lines and by replacing additional corrugated containers with new reusable packaging. They also achieved a targeted goal of using reusable packaging for 95 percent of direct ship parts for the production of its 2015 Subaru Outback and Legacy models, keeping more than 28,000 tons of cardboard out of the waste stream. Read the full case study here.
2016: Cardinal Health
Faced with $4 million in temperature-related product spoilage annually and the excessive cost and waste of single-use shipping materials, Cardinal Health needed cost-effective packaging solutions that could maintain product within narrow temperature levels and reduce their overall environmental impact. Their holistic, Innovative solution ensures safe, efficient, and sustainable delivery of refrigerated pharmaceuticals while reducing spoilage by 90% and generating annual savings of $5.6 Million and cost avoidance of $9.5 Million. Today, they move $18 billion of product in 6.5 million reusable totes that are temperature controlled by phase change coolant packs that are used over 87 times and shipped inside bulk shippers that are used nearly 200 times each. Read the full case study here.
2017: STIHL and Goodwill Industries
By replacing corrugated cartons with standardized KTP GP3 reusable plastic containers, STIHL, the leading manufacturer of power tools for landscape maintenance and forestry, realized significant cost savings, a favorable payback on container purchases and required machinery modifications, reduction in material handling, forklift traffic, and down-time, along with improved intercompany inventory balance and component exchange…all while reducing the amount of cardboard returned for recycling by over 760 tons annually. Read the full case study here.
At its warehouses where donated goods are collected, sorted, processed, and distributed to retail locations for resale, Goodwill was experiencing product damage, significant recurring packaging costs, and underutilized warehouse capacity. By replacing wood pallets and fiber corrugated gaylords with the ORBIS OPTEBulk, a 40” x 48” reusable pallet and sleeve system for bulk storage and stacking, Goodwill realized a 50% increase
in warehouse utilization, better trailer utilization, improved worker handling, efficiency, and safety, and reduced merchandise damage, packaging cost, and environmental impact. Read the full case study here.
2018: Anheuser-Busch InBev
Faced with a combination of operational and supply chain challenges in the production and transportation of two leading beer brands, AB InBev, the world’s largest brewer, invested in a comprehensive program of preventative maintenance, pallet redesign, and logistics redesign that not only improved environmental and business performance, but also extended the lifespan of reusable packaging components. The results were an 8% increase in brewery efficiency, 3.8k hecta-liter reduction in product waste, a 33% increase in load capacity, 54% reduction in transportation cost, 25% reduction in packaging material supply loads, and a 30% reduction in CO2 emissions (nearly 42 tons/year). Read the full case study here.
2019: The Kroger Company
Kroger’s adoption of the Polymer Logistics Cleanpal® pallet reduced the retailer’s distribution costs by up to 66% and removed 6,500 tons of CO2 emissions from the retailer’s egg supply chain. Weighing up to 2.5 times less than traditional pallets, moving up to 3 times more pallets in truckload deliveries and returns, and enabling 1,000 incremental pounds of egg product per shipment from supplier to warehouse, the Cleanpal pallet is more efficient to handle, reduces transportation costs, and provides a safe and secure unit load. The Cleanpal pallet introduces a revolutionary interlocking design for nestable stacking in storage and transit, and the pallet interlocks with RPCs for superior stacking stability and ability to eliminate dunnage materials like shrink wrap and corner boards. Watch the video case study here.
2020: Alejandro Bulgheroni Estate
Liviri reusable packaging partners with Alejandro Bulgheroni Estate to replace insulated cardboard boxes with Liviri Vino containers for e-commerce wine shipments, increasing product protection and reducing distribution costs and environmental impact. Compared to single-use corrugated cardboard shippers, the Liviri Vino results in 87% lower CO2 emissions, 235% lower ozone depletion, and 97% lower energy demand. Additionally, the polypropylene material used for Liviri Vino6 is highly recyclable at end-of-life. In addition to the environmental benefits, studies conducted by Otter Products have shown that Liviri Vino can maintain wine within an acceptable temperature window of 35 – 70º F for up to 5 days during extreme hot or cold conditions, giving wine producers added flexibility in shipping to customers. Read the full case study here.
What’s new for 2021?
The 10th annual Excellence in Reusable Packaging Award is the first time RPA has introduced an award category for business-to-consumer reusable transport packaging. Specifically, submissions will target solutions that move products from retail distribution centers or stores to consumers in-store pickup, direct-to-home delivery, or e-commerce applications. The new B2C category was added due to the seismic changes in consumer buying behavior and order fulfillment processes that have been accelerated by the COVID-19 pandemic.
The reusable packaging industry is bringing new reuse innovations to market that deliver products directly to a consumer’s preferred receipt location, extending the advantages of a reuse system beyond the traditional in-store merchandising. As such, RPA would like to recognize and showcase these emerging reuse solutions for a growing market that needs higher-performing, zero-waste packaging.