Dennis Salazar on the Green Packaging Market and the Acceptance of Reusables

As a frequent reader of Dennis Salazar’s blog, one of his comments caught my eye in his April 2 blog, Sustainable Packaging – “Less is More” at the International Housewares Show. It had to do with his thoughts on the three R’s and packaging trends in general, and packaging reuse in particular.

“While interest in recycling remains as strong as ever and reuse seems as elusive and misunderstood as it has ever been, packaging material reduction is going strong and was obvious everywhere at the show,” Dennis wrote.  “Ironically, in many cases it was probably overlooked because the positive difference between current and previous packaging was NOT what was on display but, rather what was missing.”

The theme of the post was packaging reduction, but his thoughts about the ELUSIVE and MISUNDERSTOOD nature of reuse prompted me to ask him to elaborate. He was kind enough to respond.

“It is funny you zeroed in on that one line,” Dennis answered, “because as I wrote it, I realized I could have easily written an entire post just on what I was attempting to communicate in that single sentence.

“With now over six years selling packaging to the green market, I have concluded that the recycle and reduce are much easier concepts for consumers and companies to understand and more importantly to implement. Depending on the form of reusable packaging being considered, it can be very difficult to accomplish unless you have the text book perfect “closed loop” scenario.

“In addition, in some areas such as reusable plastic totes for example, buyers continue to compare a $1 corrugated box to a $30 plastic tote than can be used over one hundred times, on a “price per unit” rather than a “cost per use” basis. Simple math tells us the plastic container is a much more economical solution but someone has to explain the extraordinary negative financial impact a reusable container program startup may have this month or this quarter.  In most cases I think we agree reusability is the best long term option but it can be complicated and most people and companies want the low hanging fruit that is quicker and easier to grasp.”

What are your thoughts?

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