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Extended product life, optimized asset utility, and maximum resource recovery define the circular economy…and reusable packaging systems.

Global conditions are calling for material reuse solutions. Our planet is getting more crowded with greater demands on declining natural resources. With Climate Change adding environmental stresses and complexities, and with waste prevalent in many activities to get products from source to consumption, the call to action for a more resource-efficient system in the supply of goods has never been greater or more necessary.

In response, governments and corporations are advocating more reuse of materials as a means to conserve natural resources, eliminate waste and lower environmental impact. Reuse is at the forefront of public policy initiatives and changing business models not just because the conventional linear approach of “take – make – waste” is no longer sustainable, but also because reuse offers new operational efficiencies and economic growth scenarios.

One such movement is toward a “circular economy,” which aims to save resources and reduce waste by keeping materials at their highest utility and value at all times. The objective is to decouple economic growth from resource consumption. This is primarily accomplished by extending product life, optimizing asset utility, and maximizing resource recovery – all attributes of a reusable packaging system.

The reusable packaging industry helps to achieve a circular economy through product designs that are fit for purpose and engineered for longevity, through supply chain collaborations that maximize the function and cycle of the packaging assets, and through processes and operations that prioritize the return of products for reuse. Our industry is about managing reusable packaging materials to retain the packaging’s performance and value, reduce the need to expend new capital and to source new material, and prevent materials from entering the waste stream.

When it comes to transport packaging materials such as pallets, bins, containers and trays, the reuse of these products and resulting benefits for supply chains are well established and ready for larger deployment. The good news is that rapid advancements in technology will make these reusable products and systems even better, moving into the future when intelligent packaging assets and smart operational cycles excel in a circular economy.

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Tim Debus
President & CEO
Reusable Packaging Association

* This article appeared in the Show Daily publication for PACK EXPO 2016, and the topic was featured in a presentation at the Reusable Packaging Learning Center on November 7, 2016.

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