Final report Reusable Packaging Factors to Consider

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WRAP s vision is a world without waste,where resources are used sustainably. We work with businesses and individuals,to help them reap the benefits of reducing. waste develop sustainable products and,use resources in an efficient way. Find out more at www wrap org uk, Written by Greg Wood and Michael Sturges of Edge member of the Innventia Group of companies. Document reference WRAP 2009 RHI007 Prepared by Innventia Edge. Front cover photography Reusable transit packaging example. WRAP and Innventia Edge believe the content of this report to be correct as at the date of writing However factors such as prices levels of recycled content and. regulatory requirements are subject to change and users of the report should check with their suppliers to confirm the current situation In addition care should be taken. in using any of the cost information provided as it is based upon numerous project specific assumptions such as scale location tender context etc. The report does not claim to be exhaustive nor does it claim to cover all relevant products and specifications available on the market While steps have been taken to. ensure accuracy WRAP cannot accept responsibility or be held liable to any person for any loss or damage arising out of or in connection with this information being. inaccurate incomplete or misleading It is the responsibility of the potential user of a material or product to consult with the supplier or manufacturer and ascertain. whether a particular product will satisfy their specific requirements The listing or featuring of a particular product or company does not constitute an endorsement by. WRAP and WRAP cannot guarantee the performance of individual products or materials This material is copyrighted It may be reproduced free of charge subject to the. material being accurate and not used in a misleading context The source of the material must be identified and the copyright status acknowledged This material must. not be used to endorse or used to suggest WRAP s endorsement of a commercial product or service For more detail please refer to WRAP s Terms Conditions on its. web site www wrap org uk,Executive Summary,Introduction.
Packaging whether single trip or reusable plays a crucial function protecting goods preventing damage during. transport and storage from the elements vibration drop and compression It also provides the opportunity to. communicate information to a customer regarding the product s contents whether promotional factual or. mandated by law as well as providing product security e g making items more tamper resistant. Packaging is only one element of a product s overall environmental impact and often only represents 10 of the. overall impact of the product packaging system It is a highly visible use of resources accounting for about a. fifth of the household waste stream and between a tenth to a twentieth of commercial and industrial waste1 It. is therefore an issue of concern to both consumers and policy makers These concerns are reflected in WRAP s. 2008 2011 business plan which identifies packaging as one of four priority areas. Perceptions of can be reinforced by the single trip nature of the majority of packaging especially consumer. packaging There are significant examples of reusable packaging systems in existence which may offer potential. environmental and or economic benefits over single trip solutions however reusable packaging systems are not. always appropriate solutions If conditions are not appropriate the environmental and or economic costs of. reusable packaging will outweigh the benefits As a result of this the extent to which reuse of packaging offers. genuine environmental benefits remains a central element of the resource efficient packaging debate. Project Objective, The aim of this report is to help packaging decision makers to consider single trip and reusable packaging options. on an informed basis This is achieved by identifying the key factors from an environmental life cycle. perspective that influence the environmental performance of reusable packaging systems. Methodology, Life cycle assessment LCA is a technique that quantifies the environmental impacts of a product or system. typically from the cradle to the grave i e from the winning and conversion of raw materials through. manufacturing of products distribution use and finally management of wastes 2 Many LCA studies have been. performed that evaluate and compare reusable packaging systems and equivalent single trip packaging solutions. A structured and reasoned review of these existing studies was made in order to identify key trends. Understanding the commonalities and differences between studies and results helps WRAP and other interested. parties to better understand the conditions under which reusable packaging may be environmentally preferable to. single trip packaging solutions, Factors which affect relative environmental performance of single trip and reusable. packaging systems, Examination of the LCA studies allowed those factors which consistently had a significant influence on the results. for most impact categories to be identified These factors have been categorised as primary factors Those. 25 3 million tonnes of household waste were collected in England in 2007 08 with packaging accounting for around 5 million. tonnes Commercial and industrial waste is estimated around 68 million tonnes Packaging waste arsing in the commercial and. industrial waste streams is estimated at around 5 million tonnes. Sources Department for Environment Food and Rural Affairs Defra online statistics and Environment Agency Commercial. and Industrial Waste Survey 2002 03, Some of the LCA studies included in the reviews were Cradle to Cradle rather than Cradle to Grave depending on the scope.
of that individual study, Single Trip or Reusable Packaging Considering the Right Choice for the Environment 1. factors which also have an influence but typically affect results to a lesser degree or only influence results for. isolated impact categories have been classified as secondary. Drawn from the review of LCAs primary factors which influence the relative environmental performance of. single trip and reusable packaging systems are, Raw materials and energy used in manufacture Single trip packaging systems total environmental. impact is more dependent on raw material and energy use in pack manufacture than reusable packaging due. to the whole of the burden being associated with a single trip whereas the burden is shared equally between. the total number of lifetime trips for reusable packaging. Trip rates for reusables The number of trips made by reusable packaging in its lifetime is critical because. it determines the allocation of the most significant environmental burden package manufacturing to each trip. made by the reusable packaging The more trips a reusable packaging makes the lower its proportion of that. burden becomes However as the number of trips increases the proportional decrease in environmental. burden becomes lower, Transportation distances The return trip for reusables becomes significant when longer transport. distances are considered Therefore longer journey distances tend to favour single trip packaging shorter. journey distances tend to favour reusable packaging. Pool size for reusables The number of packaging units required to support a reusable packaging system. is significantly higher than the number of packaging units required for the immediate and current product. supply at any one point in time This is to allow for the time taken for the return logistics cleaning seasonal. peaks in volumes damages and losses in the system, Vehicle utilisation Reusable packaging is usually heavier and usually occupies a greater volume than. single trip solutions in order to withstand the rigours of multiple trips The effect is to reduce cube utilisation. and therefore additional transport journeys may be required to transport a given amount of product. Recycled content and post consumer recycling The relative environmental performance of single trip. packaging compared to reusable packaging may be significantly influenced by the recycled content of the. single trip packaging format, Secondary factors influencing the relative environmental performance of single trip and reusable packaging.
identified through the LCA reviews include, LCA methodology decisions especially allocation and treatment of carbon sequestration. End of life waste management scenarios considered,Location of recycling facilities. Transportation modes,Energy mix in the systems modelled. Impacts associated with the washing and repair of reusable packaging. Impacts associated with the secondary tertiary and ancillary packaging required to service each packaging. Scope of LCAs Reviewed, Commercial factors are not covered in the scope of the work but they are fundamental to the decision making. process In order for a reusable system to be successful there must be clear cost benefits to the participants. quality improvements and benefits to the service all these commercial and consumer aspects must be balanced. against the environmental considerations, A key factor from both an environmental and commercial perspective that could not be considered as it was.
not within the scope of the LCAs reviewed was product damage Damage occurring during normal distribution. and storage of packaged products can have a significant influence on the environmental burden of the packaged. product system, Single Trip or Reusable Packaging Considering the Right Choice for the Environment 2. Packaging has a vital role in protecting products as well as wider consumer benefits A fundamental role of any. packaging is to deliver the product to the customer or consumer in fit for purpose undamaged condition If a. product is damaged in distribution it results in the waste of that product or it being sold at reduced cost or. having to be repaired Because all the product manufacturing packaging and logistics processes of that. damaged item have already occurred and have been wasted as a consequence of the damage their impact on. the environmental burden of the complete system can be significant This is particularly important where the. ratio of the environmental burden associated with product manufacture versus packaging and delivery is high or. where damage rates are significant The burden of product damage may outweigh the combined burden of all. the factors relating to the packaging surrounding it. Therefore the impact on product damage rates between different single trip and reusable packaging systems is a. highly significant commercial and environmental factor and for this reason must be considered when choosing. between alternatives, The LCA s reviewed represent those which as far as was possible were conducted in compliance with ISO. 14040 but even those that do not meet this standard also inform the objective of this report to identify factors. critical to packaging system choice The LCA s were inconsistent in format system boundaries and reporting. detail and relatively few detailed findings of any critical review However the authors of this report have. examined the results of the individual LCA s reviewed and have only included those factors that have consistently. emerged as important considerations in selection of most appropriate systems. The majority of LCA studies conducted and indeed of those reviewed in this report are sponsored or. commissioned by parties who have a vested commercial interest in the findings of those studies The body. performing the study will follow the goal and scope defined by the commissioning organisation The LCA. standards frameworks including ISO 14040 allow methodological choices to be made within a framework and. cannot govern data robustness LCAs conducted on behalf of interested parties are therefore able to express the. results and in particular the conclusions of a study to favour their own interests. Conclusions on the environmental advantages of different packaging systems are dependant on the priorities set. for each impact category Discrimination between concepts and materials on the basis of LCA findings should be. avoided when the results of in depth sensitivity analyses are not available. Is reusable packaging the right choice for the environment Conclusions. Despite a number of limitations of Life Cycle Assessments including the lack of consideration of product damage. the reviews undertaken as part of this project highlight that data and information from LCAs can be useful when. considering reusable packaging systems, Identified through the review of LCA studies this report highlights the key factors that influence the. environmental performance of single trip and reusable packaging systems The identification of these primary. secondary and other factors should help packaging decision makers to consider alternative packaging options on. an informed basis and crucially will help establish priorities for minimising the environmental impacts of those. systems whichever format is used, The LCAs also demonstrate that the relative merits of single use and reusable packaging are dependent on the. specific circumstances of the individual product packaging format supply chain and logistics in a given situation. It is not possible to state outright that one packaging format is generically environmentally preferable to the. other as it may vary according to these factors,Even where a LCA study has.
Final report Reusable Packaging Factors to Consider Single Trip or Reusable Packaging Considering the Right Choice for the Environment This report describes the factors which need to be considered when reviewing the environmental performance of single trip and reusable packaging systems It is the result of a review of the findings of Life Cycle Assessments and similar studies comparing

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