Reusables: A Leap of Faith and a Great Business Idea

Are reusables a leap?

Yes, that small red shape is Nik Wallenda on the tightrope. (Photo credit: The Discovery Channel)

Talk of the PACK EXPO show: Nik Wallenda makes a historic tightrope crossing in the Windy City

The buzz at PACK EXPO on Day 1 and 2 centered around an arguably unrelated event, that being Nik Wallenda’s tightrope performance between the tops of three different skyscrapers in downtown Chicago. In fact, coming home on a packed Number 2 shuttle bus from McCormick Center after opening day, the traffic was so badly snarled that the remarkably patient driver finally gave up and berthed the bus against a random curb to let us disembark. I spilled out in the midst of the throng and then pushed my way through an estimated crowd of 65,000 people which had converged on the downtown area to witness the event.

The TV coverage, which aired live across the U.S. as well as into 220 countries and territories, was riveting theater. Nik Wallenda, “The King of the Highwire,” made history after successfully crossing one of the windiest sections of the Chicago skyline at night on a tightrope without a net or tether.  Tension had mounted as the delays pushed the time of the tightrope walk well past the initially scheduled departure at 6 pm, and then at last he methodically began his crossing, balancing himself precariously in the face of some serious gusts of wind as the crowd held its collective breath.

The next day at the show, people shared their experiences with respect watching Nik, some bewildered by why he would even try such a feat, others impressed by the degree of preparation that went into making it a success.

Amazingly, some people still feel a similar tingle of trepidation at the thought of switching to reusables, especially in more complex or open loop applications. Is a move to reusables a risky maneuver  that if unsuccessful, could cause business careers to plummet? Obviously there is an element of uncertainty involved, but through repetition and best practice, the prognosis is almost always very bright. When a reusable packaging project is handled professionally, by providers such as those available at the Reusable Packaging Pavilion at PACK EXPO, it is nothing at all like a tightrope walk for the feint of heart.

An important first step in your journey is visiting an event such as the Reusable Packaging Pavilion, and understanding the basics. Another option is to check out the resources at the RPA website ( More coverage to follow but for now some images, below. (PS, if you have pictures from your PACK EXPO experience to share, please send them my way!)



Attendees gather on the Grand Concourse, connecting the North and South Halls of PACK EXPO International 2014. (Photo credit: PACK EXPO)


PTM Ultra Pallet

RPA member PTM showed off the extremely durable plastic Ultra Pallet. (Photo credit: PTM)


Excellence in Reusable Packaging Award winners. Left to right, Svenska Retursystem's xxx, Robert Engle, RPA Presdient, and Samantha Goetz of ORBIS Corporation,

Excellence in Reusable Packaging Award winners. Left to right, Anna Elgh, accepting for Svenska Retursystem, Retursystem pools handheld plastic containers and pallets for the Swedish grocery retail industry. Robert Engle, RPA Chairman/President presenting the awards at center, and Samantha Goetz of ORBIS Corporation, accepting on behalf of Full Belly Farms, a California grower and the winner for companies with sales under $25 million. (Photo credit: RPA)


ORBIS has rebranded its entire protective dunnage line as ORBIShield.

ORBIS has rebranded its entire protective dunnage line as ORBIShield. (Photo credit: ORBIS Corporation)