While reusables are clearly a simple and effective solution to a company's shipping needs, it's not always clear exactly what they are and how they might change a company's receiving and distribution. We've put together these FAQ's to answer the most commonly asked questions relating to reusable transport packaging.
Q:Are reusables more expensive than one-time or limited-use packaging?
A:Because initial costs for reusable transport packaging are often higher than one-time or limited use packaging, many companies are hesitant to make the switch. What many don't realize, though, is that reusables pay off in the long run; the long-term savings far outweigh the initial investment. Reusable transport packaging eliminates the need to repeatedly purchase and handle one-time or limited use packaging, conserving energy, reducing greenhouse gases and cutting company costs.
Q:What other ways can reusables support the bottom line while also positively impacting the environment?
A:Reusable transport packaging reduces the labor required in the use of one-time or limited use packaging. Benefits include: elimination of handling and breakdown of cardboard boxes for recycling, and improved ergonomics and worker safety. Reusables cause fewer shipping errors, better protect the goods being shipped, reduce packaging material costs, reduce waste management costs and generate less waste.
Q:What sort of packing materials and containers are classified as reusable transport packaging?
A:Containers, totes, and pallets that can be cleaned, repaired (as needed) and reused are consider reusables. Reusables are often made of durable plastic, metal, or wood, and often incorporate recycled content. Using reusables conserves the energy that would be required in the manufacturing of single use boxes, as well as the energy that would be needed to break down and recycle those boxes. Shipping with reusables utilizes the same containers time after time, saving both energy and money.
Q:What kind of companies are ideal candidates for reusable transport packaging?
A:Any company or organization that ships frequently-in-house or out-is a great candidate. Reusable transport packaging works best with companies that ship via a closed loop or open managed loop system. Companies that ship via an open managed loop tend to outsource the management of the reusable containers to a pooling agent, ensuring they flow through the system properly and are inspected, cleaned and repaired as needed.
The following types of businesses can often benefit from switching to reusables:
- Manufacturing - Electronics and computer manufacturers and assemblers, automotive parts manufacturers and automotive assembly plants and pharmaceutical manufacturers, among many others.
- Food and beverage - Food and beverage manufacturers and distributors; meat and poultry producers; processors and distributors; produce growers; field processing and distribution; grocery store suppliers of bakery, dairy, meat and produce; bakery and dairy deliveries; and candy and chocolate manufacturers.
- Retail and consumer product distribution - Department store chains, superstores and club stores, retail pharmacies, magazine and book distributors, fast food retailers, restaurant chains and suppliers, food service companies and airline caterers.
Q:How does reusable transport packaging work for companies that ship using pallets?
A:Typically, companies employ the services of a pallet rental service to outsource the logistics of pallet management to a third-party pooling management company. Pallets are delivered to a company, palletized products are shipped through its distribution chain and then the rental service picks up the empty pallets and returns them to service centers for inspection and repair.
Q:Are there any Alameda County companies currently using Reusables?
A:A number of Alameda County businesses are already realizing the benefits of reusables. See our case studies to learn more about them.