As the green revolution exits its infancy, we are seeing more and more options for sustainable reuse and recycling. While we’re obviously huge fans of recycling, we also love the idea of reducing the need for it in the first place by reusing products before they have to take a trip to the recycling center.

Down with One-Time Packaging

One of the most encouraging developments we’ve seen in the last few years is sustainable packaging. The Reusable Packaging Association defines this as “pallets, bins, bulk and hand-held containers, totes, trays and dunnage that move products efficiently and safely through supply chains” and “constructed of durable materials such as metal, plastic or wood and is designed to achieve multiple uses through rigorous operations and logistics systems.”

The organization notes that currently these products are “largely designed for business-to-business applications” but that this may be changing because “the growth of e-commerce and home delivery applications is opening opportunities for the effective use of reusable packaging for transporting merchandise to households.”

What with futuristic developments such as Amazon Prime Air, which has drone delivery plans in the works, it seems like a little sustainable packaging should be an achievable goal.

Not Just Good for the Earth

Of course, many businesses are slow to adopt change. While the power of inertia is not to be underestimated, this switch might be easier than you think.

The Balance points out that “Higher initial purchase price ends up translating into a lower cost per trip through repeated reuse. Other economic benefits can come through productivity gains where reusable packaging better addresses the needs of the work process, such as through design for better parts presentation.”

Moreover, reusable packaging is often stronger, and can therefore protect items better than corrugated cardboard or other one-time-use packages. And because it’s designed for the long haul, sustainable packaging often has more features that protect it during storage and between uses, such as “collapsible or nestable design.” This also improves transportation efficiency, reducing fuel costs and further protecting the planet.

As a final perk, consumers love to support programs that increase recycling in packaging, and companies that already do it are receiving major recognition. So in the end, sustainable packaging might just bring the better bottom line.

Recycling Still Matters

Of course, it would be unrealistic to assume that reusable packaging will be a 100-percent closed loop – meaning packaging can be endlessly reused – any time soon. However, that doesn’t mean we can’t work toward making the recycling process a closed loop, and ensuring that we recycle as much packaging as possible to prevent it from entering the waste stream.

Consumers and business employees who aren’t involved directly in large-scale reusable B2B recycling are probably thinking, “Okay, but I don’t really get too many pallets on my front doorstep.”

To which we respond: You can always check with businesses you routinely buy from whether they use responsible shipping materials such as reusable pallets. And if you’re an employee who isn’t involved in the shipping affairs of a company, it might still be worth talking to the higher-ups about making a change. Usually it’s not too difficult to switch to materials that are much easier to reuse.

A Partner in Recycling

No matter what approach you take, you’ll still need a partner to help you make a consistent recycling program a reality. At Recycle Away and Trashcans Warehouse, our mission is to ensure that businesses and consumers have access to widely available and effective recycling systems. If you’re in the market for sustainable solutions, please let us know and we’ll help you figure out a solution today!