New reusable transport packaging industry report announced at PACK EXPO Las Vegas.
Just like reusable packaging systems in best-in-class supply chains, the reusable packaging industry is on the move, and accelerating. At the recent PACK EXPO Las Vegas 2023 show, Tim Debus, the President of the Reusable Packaging Association (RPA), shared compelling findings from that group’s freshly released Reusable Transport Packaging: State of the Industry Report 2023. This invaluable study analyzes the developments in the reusable transport packaging sector from 2020 to 2023.
Debus shed light on the unique dynamics of the inaugural 2020 report, which was researched amidst the uncertainties of the early COVID-19 pandemic days. Fast forward three years and the landscape has drastically transformed. We’re seeing new packaging material attitudes, a deeper environmental consciousness, and groundbreaking supply chain adjustments. This report, a fusion of data from RPA’s extensive database, findings from 10EQs market research, and insights from an online survey of about 190 participants, provides a holistic view of the changes.
Debus remarked on the remarkable growth and innovative surge in the service provider sector. “It’s not just about growth; it’s the vibrancy and excitement in this segment,” he said. These service providers are a diverse group, ranging from logistics and transportation firms to high-tech entities creating trailblazing solutions for tracking and sanitation. “These advancements are truly revolutionizing the potential of reusable packaging,” he stressed.
It’s true. While reusable packaging systems provide better economic and sustainability outcomes, management can be complex, and individual companies might not have enough scale to invest in particular automation such as a wash system, for example. Service providers can help provide a seamless transiton and ensure success.
As the number of companies exploring reusable packaging swells, so does the importance of services that fine-tune their efficacy. Debus emphasized the RPA’s dedicated efforts to liaise with various brands to comprehend their vision for reusable packaging. “These dialogues have been eye-opening, offering a peek into how businesses are navigating and valuing the terrain of reusability,” he noted.
The numbers, too, are telling. The reusable transport packaging market globally is valued at an impressive $107 billion, with supply chains’ reusable packaging making up almost 10% of the global $1.1 trillion packaging pie. “What’s notable,” Debus highlighted, “is the leap from $100 billion since our last report. With a compound annual growth rate of 5.7% from 2020, our sector is outpacing the 4.1% (growth) of the global packaging market. The trend is clear: reusables are in the lead.”
Regarding product breakdown, pallets dominate, capturing about 61% of the market share, or $65.6 billion. This is followed by handheld containers (13%), totes, bins, and large-volume unit-load containers (12%). Not to be left out, RPCs for perishables also hold significant ground (6%).
Discussing industry-specific adoption, while food and beverages remain the frontrunners in utilizing reusable packaging, Debus singled out the importance of the automotive sector. “Their foresight in understanding the benefits, both in cost-saving and waste reduction, sets a benchmark,” he stated.
The healthcare sector, with its unique requirements for sterile and temperature-regulated transport, also exhibits great potential.
Significantly, this year’s report debuts a focus on consumer preferences. Debus stressed, “In today’s market dynamics, consumer sentiments and choices are paramount. They’re the compass guiding the decisions of businesses.” Comparing positive drivers supporting the growth of the reusable transport packaging market such as sustainability, automation, and economics, one notable uptick had to do with the Government Regulations category. Given the growing level of packaging regulation in Europe and state-level bills passed or in development. The amount of respondents that thought regulation would impact the growth of reusables positively jumped from below 50% to the mid-70s.
Shifting the spotlight to the industry’s leaders, Debus said, “Recent times have seen titans like Starbucks, Uber Eats, Coca Cola, Walmart, and collaborations like the one between the Ellen MacArthur Foundation and Unilever, making waves. It’s no longer just about advocacy from associations like RPA; the global brands are on board.
“If I can leave you with a thought in terms of where the state of the industry is… it’s enterprising,” Debus concluded. “I thought this was a perfect word to capture what we’re seeing out in the marketplace: new ventures willing to try new things that are unusual. and full of energy. Looking at new ways of delivering success, right raising the bar, this is exactly what we’re seeing in the reasonable packaging industry, both for the transport supply chain and also for consumer and primary packaging as well. There’s a lot of enterprising activity taking place and it is so exciting to see innovation and to see new ideas, and new approaches that are being experimented and being adopted around the world.”
Free to members and for $99 for non-members, the Reusable Transport Packaging: State of the Industry Report 2023 is available at the RPA website.