Reusable Packaging or Returnable? Five Questions and the Trials of Terminology

Reusable or returnable? ¿En qué idioma está hablando? I know it seems like there are much larger issues than terminology in pushing the growth of reusables to the next level, but a common understanding of terms may well be important in greasing the wheels of commerce through eliminating confusion for reusable packaging customers. Customers sometimes do get frustrated with our Who’s on First approach to talking about products and services.

Based on my own experience (and sometimes exasperation) in talking to participants, I think the reusables industry would be well served by migrating closer to common usage for key terms. I’m not sure how it all plays out. There are some differences for example between the U.K. and North America, and between these others and Australasia. Even within regions, however, there are differences in usage that lead to confusion.

Here are five questions about reusables  just to get the conversation rolling:

  1. Do reusable and returnable mean the same thing, or is the latter a subset of the former?
  2. Should we classify pallets or roll cages as  reusable packaging, or reusable transport equipment?
  3. Do RTP and RTI refer to the same thing?
  4. How are pallet hire and pallet rental different?
  5. Does pooling mean the same thing as pallet hire or pallet rental, or is it a broader term that includes usage of fungible packaging such as GMA pallets or EPAL pallets?

So there we have it. Should we strive for global harmonization, or for harmonization at the national or regional basis? Or should we just leave well enough alone and focus on buyer education and opportunities?

Please post any thoughts, or if you have a glossary of terms, we would welcome an opportunity to share it with readers.

 

 

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