So you’ve heard the term “reusable packaging” floating around a lot, whether it comes to the shopping bags we are so used to getting from the supermarket, or when it comes to the actual packaging of products or items that form part of our weekly shopping. You may have even come across the term in your supply chain at work. So what exactly is reusable packaging and how is it disrupting industries in terms of environmental impact, costs and efficiency? Today we’ll take a deep dive into this important sustainability initiative, learning more in a bid to educate others about what it is and how it can help the world in the long run.
Getting a Grip on Reusable Packaging
As mentioned, reusable packaging can often bring up images of shopping bags designed to replace the plastic alternative. On a more industrial level, the term is coined for the manufacturing of durable materials that are specifically designed for “multiple trips” so to speak, or to have an extended shelf life. A reusable package is meant to be used over and over without impairing the safety of its contents. This is not to say that reusable packaging can’t be made of plastic! That is a common misconception, and many companies use reusable plastic in their operations to offset the environmental impact of their production process.
The Direct Environmental Impact
Reusable packaging was designed with one core purpose at first: to help reduce the pressures on landfills around the world. By giving products or items multiple life cycles, the result is that less waste ends up in bins, and subsequently less natural resources are required to repeatedly process packaging in landfills as a whole. This has a hidden benefit as well, in the form of less energy needing to be used by the landfill itself, which minimises the impact on the environment in yet another way. Knowing this, it’s easier to see how recycling (and reusable packaging) directly impacts the sustainability movement as a whole.
Reusable Packaging and Costs Associated
While many corporate businesses are interested in saving the planet, more of them are keen to keep their overheads to a minimum. Environmental benefits aside, using reusable packaging can also deliver significant cost savings for businesses, depending on their needs and where the item slots within their supply chain. If reusable packaging is used for product packaging, the opportunity also exists to offer “top ups” (as we’ve seen with coffee manufactures) or incentives for consumers to return their packaging to receive a discount on the next purchase. The opportunities are there, it just requires a little bit of creative thinking to make it more financially viable.