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Plastic Containers Gaining More Traction

01 Mar 2015

Shipping goods using reusable containers certainly makes perfect sense, both financially and environmentally. Companies can enjoy the benefits of significant cost savings by employing reusable plastic containers rather than single-use ones, and many designs can actually double up to be used as marketing displays. Prominent product logos help to reinforce brand loyalty amongst consumers, and a 2014 pilot programme in the US even allowed customers to interact digitally with the packaging using their smartphones to receive attractive discount coupons.

Modern Tracking technology

Another recent development is the introduction of sophisticated tracking technology. These technologies can help beverage companies to locate lost or stolen plastic containers. Recovering the containers is obviously extremely important, as the ability to reuse them has such an effect on the return on their investment as well as significantly reducing the impact on the environment. Indeed, Rehrig Pacific has found that the dairy industry alone loses around 20 million milk crates per year to theft, which is of course catastrophic for the environment as well as being incredibly expensive. So it is easy to see the advantages that the modern tracking technologies can bring, both in terms of the financial costs of replacement and the time savings for employees.

There are several options available, including barcodes. These can be scanned individually and the cost of a reader varies between £130 and £520. The barcodes should be located on each side of the container for maximum efficiency and ease of use. Another alternative is RFID (radio-frequency identification). Electromagnetic fields are utilized in order to transmit data and are generally a speedier option. This is because multiple plastic containers can be scanned at the same time, and the chips only need to be in the general vicinity of the reader. RFID avoids problems with human error as well as the labour-intensive nature of scanning individual barcodes. In spite of these positives, RFID has been slower to gain in popularity due to the much higher costs involved. The cost of the portal readers can range from £1600 to £2600, and a handheld reader can cost £2250. In addition to this, companies do need to employ data-gathering and reporting software.

Environmental Benefits

As well as locating lost and stolen plastic containers, tracking technology can also enable beverage producers to keep a check on how often they are being reused. This enables them to make informed decisions about how many are needed and avoid tying up cash flow by over-buying. The benefits to the environment of more sustainable packaging are of course huge. It has been calculated that plastic crates involve 46% less energy to produce and generate a huge 89% less waste. All in all, the advantages of reusable packaging for the economy, the environment and company marketing strategies are easy to see.

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