Savings and Waste Reduction Enabled by Reusable Transport Packaging

WASHINGTON, D.C., -- The Reusable Pallet and Container Coalition (RPCC) is implementing a national grass-roots campaign to promote the cost savings and waste reduction made possible by the use of reusable materials, it was announced today.

"In the past, waste reduction efforts cost businesses extra time and money to implement," said Ken Smith, president of the RPCC. "But today, reusables actually save money because they reduce damage to the contents housed inside, and there is no waste generated."

"Reusable containers have the potential to save money in the long term," echoed Greg Murphy, corporate category manager for produce/floral at SuperValu, Inc., the nation's leading food distributor. SuperValu began using reusable containers in its produce department several years ago. "We have less damage to produce than we did with our corrugated boxes and wooden wire-bound containers; and we have reduced disposal costs. Also, the reusable containers require less manpower for stocking and display," said Murphy.

Murphy presented SuperValu's results at a recent workshop on reusable transport packaging in Minneapolis, Minnesota. The workshop, the first of its kind in the country, was hosted by the Twin Cities Solid Waste Management Coordinating Board. It provided business leaders and state and local government officials an opportunity to receive the latest information about the technology and cost-saving benefits of reusable transport packaging. The RPCC plans to schedule similar workshops in other major cities in 2003.

"The efforts under way in the Twin Cities are a model for other cities to follow," said Victoria Reinhardt, Ramsey County Commissioner; Chair of the Solid Waste Management Coordinating Board (SWMCB) Reduction and Recycling Committee for the six-county area. The board is responsible for developing programs and policies to reduce and manage the garbage generated in the Twin Cities by businesses and residents, and plan for the region's long-term needs. In 2001, SWMCB managed 3.3 million tons of municipal solid waste. If garbage disposal continues at the current rate, there will be more than 5 million tons of trash generated annually by 2017.

"Trash disposal has become a crisis," said Reinhardt. "We are running out of places to put garbage. This is a national crisis that is unfolding in every city throughout the nation. Addressing the issue requires business and government to work together."

In a study conducted in 2001, the Twin Cities found that pallets and cardboard boxes comprised 15 percent of the garbage generated in Minnesota. The SWMCB has set a goal of reducing 75,000 tons of commercial packaging waste annually through the use of reusable transport packaging. The RPCC is the official industry partner to the SWMCB in its educational campaign.

Companies in the Twin Cities area that have switched to reusable containers include SuperValu and the New French Bakery. Reusable transport packaging is wood, metal, or plastic pallets and containers that can be used multiple times. Reusable pallets and containers are designed and built to last for many years of use and replace one-time or limited-use pallets and boxes.

The reuse of transport packaging reduces the overall amount of packaging waste generated because it is used multiple times. One reusable transport package can replace hundreds of one-time or limited-use packages until its end of useful life. In addition, containers can be recycled into other useful materials at the end of their lives.

"The RPCC is aggressively promoting the benefits of reusables on two fronts," said Smith. "We are fighting hard for legislation to make reusables even more cost-effective, and we are taking our message directly to the end-users through events like the Minneapolis workshop."

As part of its efforts, the RPCC also carried its message to a recent gathering of the American Plastics Council (APC) in Wisconsin to discuss the economic vitality of the plastics industry in that state. On the legislative side, the RPCC continues to fight for tax relief for reusable containers. Already, it has been successful in achieving tax reductions on reusables in the states of Florida, Delaware, and California.

Founded in 1999, the Reusable Pallet & Container Coalition is a 501(c)(6) non-profit association representing pooled and reusable pallet and container companies in North America. The RPCC membership believes the issue of non-reusable pallets or containers is a national concern that leads to millions of dollars in waste each year as well as to inefficiencies in industry production systems. For more information, visit the Coalition's Web site at www.rpccreusable.org.usor call 202-625-4899.

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