The RPA Offers Top Tips for Reusable Plastic Containers
21 Apr 2015
The Reusable Packaging Association (RPA) has put together a set of guidelines to ensure that plastic pallets and other reusable plastic containers (RPCs) remain safe for use. These new standards come as industry guidelines have just been announced on how RPCs can be used within the food and drink sectors.
RPCs have been seen as a particularly safe method of storage and transportation for food and drink manufacturers. These types of containers can be quickly and easily cleaned to limit the risk of contamination. They are also extremely strong and durable, making them a cost-efficient option. They have an exceptional food safety record, and the RPA want to ensure that this continues. The guidelines have come through the work of the RPA’s Food Safety Working Group, which is made up of a number of industry experts. The association cannot enforce the guidelines, but it does recommend that anyone using RPCs follows their recommendations.
Retailer and Grower Recommendations
Both these groups of RPC users need to ensure that the pallets and containers they are using remain clean and prevent the spread of possible contaminants. In order to achieve this, the RPA has devised a number of recommendations that they should pay close attention to.
Wrapping clean and empty pallets will go a long way to protecting the supply chain from contamination. It will reduce the likelihood of particulates spreading between used and clean pallets, and it will also help users keep track of the pallets they have and what they’ve been used for.
When pallets and other RPCs are being transported, it’s important to use covered trailers or flatbeds. Any length of time that the RPCs are exposed to the elements can increase the risk of contamination. This also applies when pallets are stored. Wherever possible, they should be kept inside or at least under cover.
RPC users spend a large amount of time ensuring that the pallets are kept clean, but it’s also crucial to pay the same attention to the method of transportation. Lorries, trailers and vans should be cleaned frequently and regularly checked for signs of damage or wear and tear.
Another way that contamination can spread through the use of RPCs is from the adhesive used to attach labels. In order to eliminate this possibility, you should ensure that only labels that are RPC-compliant are used. You also need to check the type of adhesive that is applied. The RPA has put together a protocol which will test if these labels are in line with the guidelines.
Storage of Used Pallets
Even when RPCs are not in use, it’s still critical that you follow the guidelines. The correct storage of used pallets can also help to prevent contamination of clean sectors. The empty pallets should be stacked correctly to prevent them falling over on to a clean batch of products. These stacks should be wrapped and arrangements made for them to be collected promptly.
By following the RPA guidance, you can help to eliminate any possibility of cross-contamination between used and clean pallets. In doing this, the sector will continue its excellent safety record, and RPCs will remain an effective and viable option for the food and drink industry.