Say Your Want a Revolution

This article first appeared in 2009.

Reusable packaging is embarking into a time of revolution. That’s just the way it is in the world of reusable packaging.

So what is a revolution? According to, a revolution can be a violent upheaval, a “…a sudden, marked change in something.”


A revolution of course can be something far less than earth jolting.  It can also entail the predictable return of an item, or as puts it, “… a procedure or course, as if in a circuit, back to a starting point.”  The latter sounds a lot like we come to expect from reusable packaging in terms of use and reuse. In a closed loop this may involve return to the original shipper. In an open loop, the return of the packaging will probably be to a new producer, geographically closer at hand to the point where the container was last emptied, who will fill the container and ship it once more.

Therefore, a revolution is both a single, arguably inconsequential circuitous journey, and it is also an upheaval – a transformational adjustment that leaves the order of things forever different. For the purpose of this blog we argue that the use of reusable packaging will be the cause of such a transformation through the collective voice of thousands and millions of reusable transport items being used and reused, or commissioned, decommissioned and then re-commissioned – changing the world irrevocably, one reusable container and pallet trip at a time. At the end of the day it is a symphony of small decisions that in aggregate will help divert solid waste and lead us to a more sustainable future.

Mind the Gap

So how do we get there from here? Clearly, in some applications we are already there. In industries such as automotive, for example, the use of reusable packaging has been well established. In other areas of industry such as construction, or in supply chains that stretch globally, there are more obvious barriers to implementation. Some of those barriers are concrete walls cemented by daunting reverse logistics challenges. Some of them are merely the cerebral concrete of change resistance that we really need to dismantle for the sake of more cost-effective and environmentally sustainable solutions.

Problematically, that is more easily said than accomplished. But the gaps can be bridged in many cases, and we can design and run reusable packaging systems as efficiently as the London tube system. Mind the gap, as they say at Charring Cross and the other stations about that potentially dangerous but easily passable space between the car and the platform. Step over it.

The Revolution Is Friendly

This purpose of this blog is to report on reusable solutions, revolutionary thinking about reusables, and the revolution that will break down those walls of resistance to the emerging Reusable Packaging Revolution, which by the way is the title of the soon to be launched newsletter associated with

The use of expendable packaging is widespread and dominant. We don’t mean to suggest that the world order will suddenly change, only that the use of reusable packaging can play a much more vital role in reducing solid waste and improving operational efficiencies if we embrace those opportunities. includes in its definition that revolutions are often violent. Not this one. The reusable revolution is friendly, often offering productivity and ergonomic advantages, not to mention cost per trip efficiencies as well as other benefits. And better yet, and it starts right now.