Swedish Industry Pool and California Organic Farm Winners of Excellence in Reusable Packaging Award

Svenska Retursystem and Full Belly Farms win the Excellence in Reusable Packaging Award.

The 3rd annual Reusable Pack­ag­ing Asso­ci­a­tion Excel­lence in Reusable Pack­ag­ing Award has been awarded to two com­pa­nies that delivered significant and measurable cost and envi­ron­men­tal savings.

We received strong sub­mis­sions this year that doc­u­mented the mul­ti­ple and far-reaching ben­e­fits of reusables on small and large scales. The award pro­gram is another exam­ple of RPA’s lead­er­ship in pro­mot­ing the value and expan­sion of reusables,” said Robert Engle, RPA Chair­man and Pres­i­dent and CEO of Inter­na­tional Con­tract Mold­ing, LLC, (ICM) an Otto Com­pany. ICM spon­sors the award program.

Sven­ska Retursys­tem estab­lishes com­mon pool­ing sys­tem in Sweden

Sven­ska Retursys­tem earned the award for com­pa­nies with rev­enues over $25 mil­lion. The com­pany led a pro­gram to estab­lish a com­mon pool­ing sys­tem for more than 200 food pro­duc­ers in Swe­den and food man­u­fac­tur­ers through­out Europe that export their goods to the Swedish trade. Every prod­uct for every gro­cery chain is deliv­ered in the same stan­dard­ized size and type of return­able crate and pal­let. Since the program’s incep­tion in 2001, nearly 1 bil­lion crates have been deliv­ered, replac­ing the same num­ber of sin­gle use pack­ag­ing. By offer­ing the whole indus­try the same terms and cost of pack­ag­ing, the pro­gram has neu­tral­ized pack­ag­ing as a com­pet­i­tive fac­tor and freed up the food pro­duc­ers to focus more on their core business.

Mea­sur­able sav­ings, doc­u­mented through inter­views with cus­tomers, users, and sur­veys, include:

  • Store staff save 45 min­utes a day in labor, a sav­ings of 725,000 hours and $22 mil­lion dol­lars annually.
  • The cost sav­ings for using reusables ver­sus expend­able pack­ag­ing for one year is $18.7 million.
  • Food waste is reduced thanks to the bet­ter pro­tec­tion pro­vided by the pack­ag­ing. One exam­ple: an egg sup­plier reports a 75 per­cent reduc­tion in bro­ken eggs.
  • A life cycle assess­ment con­ducted by an inde­pen­dent firm found the return­able crate gave rise to 44% less CO2e emis­sions than cor­re­spond­ing dis­pos­able pack­ag­ing. Since the program’s incep­tion, this cor­re­sponds to a reduc­tion in emis­sions of over 115 mil­lion kg of CO2e.

Win­ning this award is a great honor, and it is added con­fir­ma­tion of the value of the pro­gram,” said Conny Swahn, Sales and Mar­ket­ing Man­ager at Sven­ska Retursys­tem. “Together with our cus­tomers, we are deliv­er­ing impor­tant ben­e­fits for the entire gro­cery busi­ness. The reusable trans­port items are easy to use, save time and cost in han­dling the goods, reduce food waste, and they reduce the envi­ron­men­tal impact!”

Full Belly Farm saves costs and labor with reusable tote

Full Belly Farm, a cer­ti­fied organic farm in Cal­i­for­nia, won the RPA award for busi­nesses with rev­enues less than $25 mil­lion. The grower replaced 8,330 waxed card­board boxes with 2,000 reusable plas­tic totes with attached lids in July 2013. The plas­tic totes are filled with pro­duce for weekly deliv­er­ies to fam­i­lies and then picked up and returned to the farm for reuse the fol­low­ing week. The deliv­ery sites include Full Belly Farm’s 44 res­i­den­tial pro­duce pick-up sites and three farm­ers’ mar­kets. The deliv­ery con­tain­ers with­stand tem­per­a­tures between 40 and 120 degrees Fahren­heit, han­dle expo­sure to sum­mer sun and win­ter rain, and pro­tect pro­duce dur­ing ship­ping dis­tances up to 150 miles. The pro­gram was funded with a $15,000 grant from StopWaste.Org.

Mea­sur­able improve­ments include:

  • Cost sav­ings of $14,161 per year in avoided waxed card­board box pur­chases; a sav­ings of 8% of total box costs. The sav­ings will con­tinue every year as long as the boxes last.
  • Reduced labor to set up and stack card­board boxes and line them with paper lin­ings each day. Adding the paper lin­ing required an addi­tional per­son on the box fill­ing line — a con­sid­er­able cost for a small company.
  • Avoided 6.54 tons of card­board waste per year, result­ing in an annual reduc­tion of 34.1 tons of green­house gas emission.

All of us at Full Belly Farm strongly believe that it is impor­tant to reduce unnec­es­sary pack­ag­ing,” said Judith Red­mond, co-owner. “We are proud to win this award, and it makes us real­ize that reduc­ing pack­ag­ing is more likely when the whole com­mu­nity and groups like StopWaste.org and the RPA are involved.”

The RPA Excel­lence in Reusable Pack­ag­ing Award rec­og­nizes com­pa­nies that have devel­oped, sup­ported, or imple­mented mea­sur­able and inno­v­a­tive reusable solu­tions in a business-to-business sup­ply chain. The judges are Sara Willis Hartwell, Senior Pol­icy Advi­sor, US EPA, Office of Resource Con­ser­va­tion and Recov­ery; Ben Miyares, Pres­i­dent, Pack­ag­ing Man­age­ment Insti­tute; Justin Lehrer, Pro­gram Man­ager, StopWaste.Org; and Rick LeBlanc, edi­tor of Pack­ag­ing Rev­o­lu­tion. The call for nom­i­na­tions for the 2015 award will be posted on the RPA web­site in the spring of 2015.

 

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