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June 10, 2011
Article by Supply Chain Review

A RMIT University Melbourne study shows that when it comes to sustainability, the CHEP system of Returnable Produce Crates (RPC) wins hands down

The independent lifecycle research finds significant benefits for CHEP customers using the produce crate system on a daily basis as opposed to the single-use corrugated cardboard packaging system.

CHEP Director of Strategic Marketing Renee Holbrook says while there has been debate about cardboard versus plastic transportation options, the RMIT study reveals the RPC saves more than 175 tonnes of greenhouse gas emissions.

“In addition more than 1.2 million litres of water saved and more than 20 tonnes of solid waste avoided,” Holbrook says.

“That’s 70 percent fewer emissions, 95 percent less solid waste and 85 percent less water than a single use corrugated cardboard system.”

Holbrook says in 2011, businesses are more environmentally aware and are seeking to make their operations as sustainable as possible, from the beginning to the end of the supply chain.

“Businesses making this move are discovering that this not only benefits the environment, but their people and the bottom line.”

Holbrook says the CHEP RPC uses less solid waste than the cardboard system because of a reduction in manufacturing process waste, even if all cardboard is recycled after use.

“Similarly, less water is used to wash an RPC, than is required for the manufacture and recycling of a comparable corrugated carton”.

According to Holbrook the extensive RMIT assessment takes the environmental impact of the entire product and system lifecycle into account, including inputs to manufacture and the full end of life processes for both packaging systems.

“We’ve long believed that a well managed reusable packaging system not only delivers functionality and financial value but also has a strong positive impact on the environment,” she says.

“This study has reinforced to us a couple of critical ways that the system delivers benefit to our customers. Firstly, the RPC system performs with lower environmental impacts across a wide range of possible situations.

“Looking forward, sustainability will continue to be a critical element in CHEP’s value offering and ongoing product development.

“Secondly, these measures of environmental efficiency highlight the importance of CHEP’s network planning and efficient reverse logistics in delivering the most sustainable service to our customers and their supply chains.

“This service will continue to be an important element in the management of existing platforms and the design and development of new reusable packaging solutions,” Holbrook says.

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