Study proves ‘green’ credentials of plastic crates

Editor’s Note:  This article appears in Australia’s Supply Chain Review

October 7, 2010

Chep Australia’s returnable plastic crate (RPC) system for produce has proven its sustainability credentials, delivering customers outstanding environmental performance as well as functionality and financial value in the supply chain.

An independent lifecycle study by RMIT University Melbourne found the Chep RPC system generated significant benefits for customers compared with a single-use corrugated cardboard packaging system.

Based on the results of the study, the estimated benefits on a daily basis are:

* More than 175 tonnes of greenhouse gas emissions saved
* More than 1.2 million litres of water saved
* More than 20 tonnes of solid waste avoided.

The study complies with the ISO 14044 methodology for environmental systems and has been peer reviewed by two independent industry experts.

The extensive assessment took into account the environmental impact of the entire product and system lifecycle, including inputs to manufacture and the full end-of-life processes for both packaging systems.

Chep Manager of Business Development, Renee Holbrook, says: “We’ve long believed that a well-managed reusable packaging system not only delivers functionality and financial value but also has a strong positive impact on the environment.

“The Chep system provides benefits directly to our customers and to everyone in the supply chains in which our equipment operates.

“The key results from the study highlight the sustainability efficiencies of the Chep RPC system when compared with a single-use corrugated cardboard system.”

The efficiencies identified include:

* Greenhouse gas emissions – 70 percent less emissions than a single-use corrugated cardboard system
* Landfill – 95 percent less solid waste than the single-use corrugated cardboard system because of a reduction in manufacturing process waste, even if all cardboard is recycled after use
* Water usage – 85 percent less water is used to wash RPCs than is required for the manufacture and recycling of a single-use corrugated cardboard system.

Holbrook adds: “This study confirms the RPC system performs with lower environmental impacts across a wide range of possible situations.

“Looking forward, sustainability will continue to be a critical element in Chep’s value offering and ongoing product development.

“These measures of environmental efficiency highlight the importance of Chep’s network planning and efficient reverse logistics in delivering the most sustainable service to our customers and their supply chains.

“This service will continue to be an important element in the management of existing platforms and the design and development of new reusable packaging solutions.”