Blogwatch: The Pallet and Food Safety Debate, Reusables in Global Supply Chains

Reusable packaging and food safety, FSMA and pallets, the opportunity for reusables in global supply chains

Here is our pick of recent blog contributions from around the web. They touch on the challenges of food safety, FSMA, and the case for reusable packaging and pallets in global supply chain applications. Blogs by Jim Hardisty and Rodney Salmon both underscore the resistance to reusable packaging in long distance or global applications. As Hardisty notes, “Over the years we have come across businesses that think that if you were to add in a backhaul rate to return plastic pallets and boxes for reuse, then it can’t possibly save them money; however they don’t appreciate the cost of their current system.”


Food safety and pallets: include an assessment of pallets

“Even minor, isolated problems require descriptive record keeping of corrective actions performed to reduce the likelihood of the problem ever occurring again,” writes Hartson Poland of Nelson Company. “Ignoring pallets, perhaps the single most ubiquitous item in the supply chain, would be like ignoring the grass on a golf course.”

Poland, a veteran plastic pallet salesperson and thought leader, blogs about food safety, from the perspective of pallets and the Food Safety Modernization Act. His post, Don’t ignore pallets in your FSMA documentation, looks at the how pallets are involved in the various aspects of FSMA programs, including hazard analysis, preventive controls, and oversight/management of preventive controls.

New study shows favorable results for wood packaging for food industry applications 

Eva Johnson, Head of European Pallet Association (EPAL) Hungary, weighs in with a post on LinkedIn (Future of Pallets: Safety, Exchangeability and Sustainability) that summarizes food safety findings from a recent study concerning pallet material.

“In recent years’ new materials have begun to replace the traditional wooden pallet,” Johnson writes, “materials such as plastics or even stainless steel, but before a business even considers adopting any of these new options, logistics leaders should carefully consider the safety, exchangeability and sustainability profiles of these wood alternatives.”


Automotive is waking up to the opportunity for one-way returnable packaging

The global automotive supply chain has underutilized the possibility of one-way shipping made possible through 3rd party pooling solutions, notes Rodney Salmon of MACRO Plastics, in his recent blog, Do you understand the potential of one-way returnable packaging? 

“With the increase in intercontinental manufacturing footprints, the supply chain and logistics operations could be forced to reconsider returnable packaging and pooling solutions provided by the likes of DHL, Chep and Goodpack,” observes Salmon.

Salmon believes that “OEM’s and tier suppliers are not entirely aware that they can receive all of the benefits of returnable packaging with the pooling provider handling and managing the return journey.”


Six Sigma helps clarify the case for reusable packaging

Jim Hardisty of provides an overview of Six Sigma, and how it can identify waste in the supply chain, in his article, Improving supply chain efficiencies with Six Sigma.  In performing Six Sigma analysis, his sales people commonly recognize waste in retail businesses’ supply chains such as the use of expendable packaging, including shrink wrap or single-use corrugated boxes, surplus labor, damaged products, and inefficient vehicle fill.

Hardisty also provides two case studies. One instance involves a conversion for a retailer from a wooden A-frame to plastic collars. The other situation involves a furniture importer, which introduced pallets in a previously unpalletized application:

To initially demonstrate the savings that the company could make in labour and time, we trialled sending rackable plastic pallets to China where the goods were palletised ready to be shipped and racked in the UK. By introducing plastic pallets, the company was able to cut back to just five warehouse operatives ( down from 30 required for the unpalletized goods), making a far greater cost saving overall despite the added cost to ship pallets to China and a slight reduction in container fill.

I have opened up the Comments section below. I look forward to reading your thoughts, as well as to share information about your blog activity.

Speak Your Mind


This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.