Comparing RPCs and Expendable Packaging. New IFCO freshIMPACT™ Economic Modeling Tool Demonstrates Benefits of Reusable Packaging

Greater efficiency in handling and product damage reduction benefit distribution centers and stores.

RPC tomatoes 2


IFCO Systems North America has launched a proprietary economic modeling tool to aid decision makers. Called freshIMPACT, the tool was developed in collaboration with experts from California Polytechnic State University (Cal Poly). Speaking recently at the Reusable Packaging Association’s RPA Forum in Chicago, Daniel Walsh, President of IFCO Systems North America, told a gathering of industry executives at the Reusable Packaging Association that the modeling tool quantifies the economic benefits of Reusable Plastic Containers (RPCs) versus one-way packaging for the fresh produce supply chain

“RPCs continue to be the packaging of choice for fresh food transport,” Walsh stated. “The freshIMPACT tool demonstrates how increased use of RPCs in the retail supply chain results in increased cost savings and reduced product damage.|

“Thanks to researchers at Cal Poly, we now have a reliable method for quantifying the cost-effectiveness of RPCs versus one-way packaging and the results speak for themselves,” Walsh continued. “RPCs save retailers time and reduce supply chain costs when compared to one-way packaging, and result in a much lower product damage rate than other packaging options.”

Drs. Jay Singh and Koushik Saha of Cal Poly developed the freshIMPACT economic modeling tool. Based on data collected through direct observations at the distribution center and store level for a national retailer as well as a regional retailer, the results revealed:

  1. RPCs Are Efficient:  At Distribution Centers, RPCs are processed between 9% and 226% faster than one-way packaging. RPCs are more efficient when it comes to slotting, order picking, stretch wrapping and loading than one-way packaging.
  2. RPCs Are Store-Friendly:  At retail locations, RPCs are more efficient by 5% to 53% over one-way packaging in stocking, order picking, transport to shelf and folding, stacking and baling.   RPCs are more space efficient, both packed and empty, helping better utilize limited space in the back room and on carts.
  3. RPCs Are Easy to Handle:  During disposal and sorting activities, RPCs are more efficient by 16% for unloading and 154% more efficient for sorting and securing.  Folded RPCs were easier to handle than one-way packaging that frequently broke and required re-strapping after use.
  4. RPCs Are Effective:  RPC use results showed less than 0.5% packaging damage rate, while one-way packaging was over 4% damage rate due to structural integrity limitations and/or improper stacking.

“IFCO looks forward to working with retailers to assess their individual supply chain costs with the freshIMPACT economic modeling tool and to determine the viability of RPCs replacing one-way packaging as a strategy to maximize efficiency and drive growth,” concluded Mr. Walsh.