Svenska Retursystem (SRS), the Swedish RPC and plastic pallet rental provider, recently celebrated the grand opening of its new washing and distribution plant in Västerås, Hållbara Aros. The event, which took place on September 15, also was an opportunity to mark the 20th anniversary of Svenska Retursystem. Futurist Stefan Hyttfors was on hand to provide a glimpse into the future.
The new facility, certified by GreenBuilding, creates the needed capacity for the company to manage increased and sustainable growth for its pooling services. The plant will process 70 million plastic crates and pallets annually. Highlights include:
- The largest and most efficient SRS washing facility to date
- 70 million crates and pallets will be washed here every year. The increased resource efficiency reduces energy consumption and environmental impact
- The building is heated to a large extent by recycled heat from the washing process
- The location is carefully selected. Västerås is a logistical hub, which makes the transportation efficient. Decreased transport results in less carbon dioxide emissions
- The building is certified with GreenBuilding
- The 30 000 sqm roof is prepared for solar cells
Half of Sweden’s fresh produce deliveries to the grocery trade are distributed via Svenska Retursystem. Every year, the system manages 146 million reusable crates and seven million reusable pallets, which are washed in four plants around Sweden. As more and more companies want to switch to a more sustainable way of transporting and managing their food, the system is growing. The use of SRS crates has expanded internationally. They are used to ship product from the Netherlands, Ireland, Spain and other countries.
Svenska Retursystem was award the Reusable Packaging Association’s Reusable Packaging Award in 2014. Read that case study about Svenska Retursystem here. One interesting point is that as the system becomes more mature, and more end of life RPCs are recycled, the regrind content lowers the carbon footprint of creating new containers.
(I first reported on SRS in 2005. It has grown considerably since that time.)
Svenska Retursystem is owned jointly by manufacturers and retailers. Sweden’s reusable packaging initiatives for perishables was formed through the cooperation of the Grocery Manufacturers of Sweden (DLF, Dagligvaruleverantörers Förbund), a non-profit organization for companies that produce and sell goods to the grocery retail and foodservice markets in Sweden; and the trade association for grocery stores (SvDH – Svensk Dagligvaruhandel). Two decades ago, the objective was to find resource-efficient methods for transporting, storing, and displaying goods. At the time, the producers of fresh produce, meat, poultry, cheese, and dairy mainly used single-use packaging of various quality and sizes.
The group first looked at reusable packaging systems being used in the UK at the time to reduce solid waste and improve efficiency. These pools were predominantly owned by individual retailers. Due to the smaller size of the Swedish market, a cooperative industry approach was chosen, one that has proven to be highly successful.