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Recycled vs. Reusable Packaging Crates: What’s the Best Way to Pack and Ship Your Goods?

Recycled vs. Reusable Packaging Crates: What’s the Best Way to Pack and Ship Your Goods?

You’ve probably heard a lot about recycled and reusable shipping containers for automotive parts. Using them can reduce the environmental impact of your supply chain significantly.

  • Eliminating single-use packaging can lower your solid waste by 86%.
  • Reusing packaging can lower your greenhouse gas impact by 60%.
  • Reducing new packaging production can lower energy consumption by 64%.

There are plenty of positives about choosing these Earth-friendly options as long as they suit your setup. So how do you choose recycled vs. reusable packaging crates?

Let’s review your options for reusable packing containers and custom packaging crates that are tailored for your products. Plus, there are some important considerations for selecting the right packing partner.

Basic Differences Between Recyclable and Reusable Containers

First, you should know that there are some key differences between recyclable and reusable containers. Recyclable packaging containers are containers that can be collected, sorted, then broken down into raw materials that then take another shape. These containers are reusable only after losing their original form and becoming something else.

Reusable containers, however, retain the same shape and can be refurbished as needed for multiple uses. That means after the first use, they’re still ready to be reused and will likely remain intact in the business-to-business supply chain for a long period.

Many reusable containers are made completely of metal, plastic, fiberboard, or wood that can survive multiple uses, then is eventually recycled for other uses later. In the meantime, they can be inspected, repaired when necessary, and sent back into the shipping supply chain while retaining their original form.

Pros and Cons of Recycled vs. Reusable Packaging Crates 

For auto parts manufacturers and government contractors, recyclable and reusable containers are good options as long as they’re durable, cost-effective, and within regulatory compliance. Many eco-friendly options fall within these parameters.

There’s also plenty of research that backs up the cost savings of reusable packaging. For example, the nonprofit trade organization shares the following facts about choosing reusable containers:

  • They drastically lower your materials costs due to reusing them over and over.
  • They reduce your labor costs by eliminating supply chain activities.
  • They can be optimized for stacking, which saves storage space/cost.
  • They reliably protect your products from damage, as long as they’re well-designed.

Reusables are also safer because they don’t need dangerous staples, nails, and box cutters. They’re designed to pack, stack, and be re-used without risky steps that put a strain on your supply chain.

Look at Subaru of Indiana Automotive, for example. This auto company already had an 89% usage rate of reusable packaging for their North American direct-delivered parts. However, they challenged themselves to increase it to 95% while reducing packaging costs by 30%. They accomplished their goal by increasing their reliance on reusable packaging. 

Ideally, packing containers are both recyclable and reusable, while staying cost-effective and safe for your products. This is why it’s so important to work with an experienced contract packaging partner who can help you review your options, design a customized solution to meet your needs, and help you make the right choice. 

What if You Need Custom Packaging Containers?

Sometimes, your process calls for a custom container. For example, you might have a custom order with an unusual size or shape. Or it may need to be designed for specific shipping or storage requirements. Or, if you're delivering a rare and large automotive part to a government entity that requires strict specs, you’ll have to opt for custom packing containers that meet mil-spec requirements.

Perhaps the purpose calls for custom containers that are both functional and beautiful. A global trend report on reusable packaging found benefits not only in terms of cost-savings and durability but also packaging design. When something is reusable, it’s worth dressing it up with a colorful and eye-catching look.

Choosing the Right Packing Partner

When choosing packing containers, it helps to have the right packaging partner. You’ll need an expert packaging house that knows how to work within the bounds of shipping regulations while still offering options that work for your products and production line.

This is especially true in situations where you have unusual environmental conditions, unique design needs, or exacting military/government customers. It’s essential to have a professional packing partner you can trust, like Mayer Alloys Corporation.


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Frequently Asked Questions


What is reusable packaging?

Reusable containers retain their shape and can be used multiple times. After the first use, they’re still ready to be reused intact in the business-to-business supply chain.

Does recycled packaging benefit my bottom line?

Yes, recycled packaging benefits your bottom line by reducing your packing costs over the long term.

What types of packaging can be recycled?

Many types of packaging can be recycled, including metal, plastic, fiberboard, and wood.

Is reusable packaging more cost-effective than recycled packaging?

Reusable packaging has a long usable life and prevents packaging re-orders, so in this way it is more cost-effective than recycled packaging. Ideally, companies can use packaging that is both recycled and reusable to benefit their bottom line and make a positive impact on the global supply chain.

Mayer Alloys Corporation brings together the resources to meet your manufacturing, assembly and supply chain needs. From metal distribution specializing in tin and lead products, to mil-spec, contract and hazmat packaging, warehouse and distribution services and electronic waste and scrap metal recycling. Contact us today to see how we can meet your needs!  

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