Roundup: RPA New Members, EPAL and LPR Post Gains, The Plastic Pirates of Houston, Texas

In the news: EPAL, LPR, plastic container theft, K. Hartwall, Technology Container Corp, Hobart, Publix and Flowers Foods

RPA Announces Three New Members

Three suppliers of reusable transport packaging products and services have joined the Reusable Packaging Association (RPA) to benefit from industry-leading initiatives promoting the use and value of reusable packaging systems.  Recent additions to RPA’s membership include the companies:  K. Hartwall, Technology Container Corp, and Hobart.  Each new member brings a diverse portfolio of products to the reusable packaging market and expands RPA’s representation across the transport packaging supply chain.

Hartwall, Rye, New York, was founded in 1932 in Söderkulla, Finland, accumulating unparalleled knowledge of logistics processes and their financial and environmental impacts. Today, K. Hartwall provides logistics efficiency by delivering innovative solutions, including returnable load carriers and services around them.  K. Hartwall works closely with customers around the world and produces measurable benefits through improved logistics flow. Thanks to efficient global delivery capabilities, K. Hartwall is a preferred partner to several companies in retail, dairy, beverage, logistics and lean manufacturing.  Website:

Technology Container Corp (TCC), Desoto, Texas, is the world’s largest producer of custom designed, reusable and corrugated plastic containers. TCC’s proprietary, one-step manufacturing process enables service to medium and large distribution systems anywhere globally in a timely and cost-effective basis. TCC customizes containers specifically to distribution needs with no expensive tooling requirements.  TCC’s unique design and manufacturing capabilities include User Friendly, Automatic Locking Bottom or Crash Bottom Designs that set up instantly and save time, materials and labor.  Website:

Hobart, Troy, Ohio, has supported the food equipment and service needs for the foodservice and food retail industries for more than 100 years.  Taking the company’s vast experience in food systems and sanitary environments, Hobart provides state-of-the-art industrial washing equipment for the cleaning and sanitizing of reusable containers and bins.  Hobart is an international company with facilities around the world, including manufacturing plants in the United States, Brazil, Canada, China, France, Germany, Italy and the United Kingdom.  Website:

“The additions of K. Hartwall, Technology Container Corp and Hobart to RPA’s membership continues to strengthen our industry voice and reach across the supply chain,” said Tim Debus, RPA President.  “Through our trade show events, industry promotion activities and committee projects, RPA is advancing reuse as the preferred approach to packaging systems.  We’re pleased that these companies have joined our cause, and we look forward to delivering value back to them for their membership support and participation.”

For more information about RPA and its members, RPA’s website can be found at


EPAL Records a Successful First Quarter

EPAL continues its path of growth in the wake of a successful 2015. In 1Q 2016,`8.3 million EPAL pallets were produced globally, denoting a 5.1 percent increase versus the same period in 2015. There were 6.1 EPAL pallets repaired, a slight increase compared to 1Q 2015.

In 2015, EPAL enjoyed an increase of 10.9 percent, with a total production of greater than 100 million EPAL pallets, including the new production of  73.6 million newly produced units.

“The excellent results of the first quarter 2016 shows the high efficiency of EPAL Euro pallets in the logistics and the high acceptance of the EPAL system, the world’s largest open exchange pool,” stated Martin Leibrandt, CEO of the European Pallet Association. “Add to that the excellent work of the National Committee, our successes in the fight against counterfeiting and EPAL pallet supporting the user through effective tools like the PalletCheck Express App, the quality classification, and the EPAL Academy. Everything together makes the EPAL Euro Pallet so successful and sustainable. ”

Source: Pressebox


LPR UK Experiences a Record Breaking January, ARYZTA Expands Relationship With LPR

LPR UK enjoyed its highest volume of pallet collections in a single month in January 2016. LPR issued greater than 73 million pallets across Europe in 2015, marked by important new contracts with Nestle and Kellog.  LPR has enjoyed an ongoing growth trajectory since entering the UK market in 2003, now with more than 40 employees in the UK and Ireland.

In another announcement LPR has announced that Switzerland-based ARYZTA is now looking to the pallet rental provider to issue 245,000 pallets annually to handle its account, an increase of 45,000 units versus the previous deal.

John-Paul Seale, European procurement packaging lead at ARYZTA said that his company was happy with LPR, noting the supplier’s excellent communication and efficiency, as well as contributing to their CO2 reduction efforts.

Source: Materials Handling World Magazine


Plastic container and pallet theft still a thorny issue

The theft of reusable containers and pallets continues to splash periodically across the headlines, while the pain felt by commerce is more persistent.

An NBC story from November 2015 discussed how the issue is impacting business in Florida, where one bread company was reportedly losing $3,000 per day in lost plastic containers. Publix said it was losing $2 million annually. James Rood, a leading private investigator in the plastic theft niche, has been working with Flowers Foods. He told NBC from the scene of a plastic theft bust:

“It’s going on all over the place because the public is not made aware of it. The industry as a whole loses about $500 million a year, and that’s just the soda, the milk, and the bread industry.”

Police made some arrests in Miami during 2015, however, continued effort is needed.

Fast forward to late March 2016 and a large operation was announced.  A collaborative effort by the Miami-Dade Police and the Miami-Dade State Attorney’s Office over an 8-month period resulted in 20 arrests. Around 2,900 stolen milk crates were discovered at the facility, along with an estimated $30,000 worth of shredded plastic containers.

Flowers Foods did not respond to two requests for an interview from Reusable Packaging News.

A more recent newspaper report from Houston, Texas offers an update on “plastic pirates” in that city.

Back in 2013, a local retail association hired Martin Cox, a private investigator, to help it with its plastic container theft problems. “It seems like a victimless crime, but it’s not,” Cox told the Houston Chronicle . Since the launch of the initiative in Houston, two large-scale busts have resulted in the recovery of over $763,000 in stolen assets, according to the task force.

While the surveillance activity of private investigators plays a key role (Cox spends about 40 hours per month on the streets), technology has also come to the rescue. As reported in the Chronicle:

A GPS tracker attached to a pallet pinged a retailer when it went off-course and led authorities to a warehouse. The two men have court dates scheduled for July. Their lawyers did not respond to requests for comment.

One interesting comment from the story had to do with making reusable packaging less attractive to thieves:

Anheuser-Busch has added its own anti-theft measures, however, inserting metal rods down the middle of the pallets. The rods can damage a shredder if not removed first, making them less appealing to recyclers.

Perhaps good news, Cox believes that local plastic thefts have decreased over the last year or two, which he attributes to arrests, but also to falling plastic prices which have made plastic theft less lucrative. (Others would argue that lower prices mean that thieves need to steal more to make the same amount of money.)


Further Reading

Prevent Reusable Asset Loss by Giving Reusables a Voice

Reusable packaging: is it really so hard to hold?