Returnable Packaging and Why You Should Use It!


Deciding which packaging you should use requires some dedicated thought. While the goals are still the same in most industries the options have changed a great deal over the last decade. One of the biggest changes has been in the returnable packaging options. Returnable packaging is not really a new option, as a matter of fact at the turn of the 19th century it was really the only option but somewhere along the line it was pushed to the wayside as new “modern” options made an appearance.

Today more and more companies have decided that returnable options are actually the best option and they have made the switch back to this tried and true packaging choice.

The Benefits of Returnable

With all the buzz about industry and the environment many companies have returned to returnable packaging as a way to show that they care about the environment but what they found was that:

  • What helps the environment has helped their bottom line
  • They have less waste
  • They need less waste services
  • They need to dedicate less labour
  • They need to dedicate less storage space to packaging
  • They have a very nice ROI


The environmental issues that the planet has been plagued with in part is due to the waste that is produced not only in the use of one way packaging but also in the production of tons and tons of packaging that will end up in the landfill eventually.

When you opt for returnable packaging you are reducing the amount of packaging that has to be manufactured thereby reducing the amount of waste that is produced not only by your group but clear across the supply chain.

Less is More

Using this type of “modern” packaging means that your costs start to go down immediately. You start to pay less for waste removal, you dedicate less space to storing one way packaging and you do not have to dedicate teams of employees to navigate the storage and waste of traditional one way options.

Overall when you consider less being more in this scenario it makes perfect sense that what is good for the environment is good for your company.

Let’s Look At the Bottom Line

One way packaging has a very short lifespan. You use it and the end user throws it away. Is one way packaging less expensive than returnable? Yes it is BUT not really. The initial outlay of investment will be less, that is true BUT what do you get in return? Nothing. You purchase the packaging and write it off as the cost of doing business or tack the cost on to product costs but at the end of the day it is truly a wasted investment.

The lifecycle of returnable packaging is indefinite. That means that if you pay 3 times more for returnable packaging by the 4th trip you are making pure profit off the packaging and every trip after that is like adding a bit more gravy to the money pot.


You also have to consider the reduction in risk because there is one. Flimsy one way packaging is made for one trip. It is not made well and it is not made to endure trip after trip. It provides less protection for your goods and can be subject to damage which of course impacts your losses.

Returnable packaging is built to endure many multiple trips. It can withstand a lot more abuse and still stand up to the job. It can be a huge factor in risk reduction.

Case Studies

The push for returnable options has been huge and very well studied. The evidence is that while it may be more expensive to switch to this type of packaging initially the rewards are tremendous AND happen pretty quickly.

Many times with business investments it can take years to realize the return on the investment but not when it comes to packaging. You can realize a nice return on your packaging investment in the first quarter that you use this type of packaging.

The adoption rate has been very high among the super corporations because it works.  There have been many companies that have made the switch with great results:

“Herman Miller hit the trifecta with reusable packaging. The furniture manufacturer saved more than $400,000 in packaging material and freight costs; kept 100 tons of packaging waste out of the landfill; and reduced deliveries through improved cube efficiencies by over 200 truckloads” read more

“By supplying product in reusable containers to a customer in the personal care industry, TRI-K Industries demonstrated its leadership and increased its business with the customer. “ read more

“Full Belly Farm, a cer­ti­fied organic farm in Cal­i­for­nia, is sav­ing costs and labor since it replaced 8,330 waxed card­board boxes with 2,000 reusable plas­tic totes with attached lids in July 2013.” Read more

There is literally a litany of case studies that support the idea that reusable packaging is a highly cost effective option. When you see companies like Herman Miller the furniture giant saving over $400,000 USD on their packaging costs it really hits home that this idea is much more than an idea it is quickly becoming a best practice.


Reusable Packaging is the Solution

If your goal is to reduce costs while reducing risk than reusable packaging is the answer. Of course on a larger scale you are taking steps to improve the stress that is put on the environment. The environment is constantly under assault and any steps that you can take to reduce the assault are good steps.

Do the math and take a closer look at what this type of packaging can do for your group, you may be surprised to see that once you run the numbers that this is the most cost effective option for both the near future and down the road.  It can be the best move you make for your business all year.

Consult with an expert in the packaging industry that an discuss at length how your company can benefit from this option, then make the switch to the new “old” best practice.