Featured, Reusables

Reusable Packaging: A Look Forward

April 16, 2020

Consider the future of reuse with our Essentials of Reusable Packaging course

In 2019, reusable packaging entered the packaging arena in a palpable way. Companies as large as
Unilever began to launch pilots and invest in reusable solutions, while startups introduced innovative business models and services. Reuse as a pathway for recovery of packaging is part of the New Plastics Economy Global Commitment, which has over four hundred signatories. Consumer data showed that two-thirds of consumers are interested in or are already engaging with reusable packaging.

Today, COVID-19 concerns have raised questions about the safety of these programs. For instance, Starbucks and Dunkin Donuts have both temporarily restricted refills of personal tumblers, and restaurants offering reusable food service ware options have been forced to switch back to single-use for delivery and takeout. Yet these precautionary measures are not proof that reuse is not viable, only that society is lacking some key best practices. What could safe and successful reusable packaging look like, and how might you build it into a forward-thinking portfolio?

Our Essentials of Reusable Packaging course explores the drivers for reusable packaging, highlights best practices for addressing some of the most common challenges, and provides tools for teams wanting to develop reusable packaging. 

Dive into the potential of reusable packaging with our new course:

  1. Reusable packaging is more than you think
    If reusable packaging makes you think of coffee tumblers, you might be surprised by the innovation and variety of reusable packaging today. Reusable packaging accomplishes a minimum number of reuses, and is returnable, refillable, or both. This includes applications from refillable cleaning and personal care products to durable mailers for e-commerce. Reusable packaging goes beyond consumers repurposing old jars and containers at home. Instead, it focuses on reusability in practice – this means reusable packaging is built into the business model of a product. Reuse today involves either the business or the consumer putting the same type of purchased product back into the packaging, and it can happen at home or on the go. The Essentials of Reusable Packaging showcases a wide range of reusable solutions and can help you imagine new ways to think about reusable packaging. 
  2. Washing and sanitizing have always been central to reusable packaging
    Today’s concerns have brought cleanliness to the forefront, but sanitization has always been a key component of reusable packaging. Early pilots of reusable packaging managed by businesses have paid special attention to removing food allergens, for instance, and restaurants have thought carefully about how to prevent cross-contamination when filling reusable food service ware containers. Going forward, reusable packaging models can lean even more heavily on FDA sanitization standards for their production lines.Innovative new startups and technologies are also providing supportive logistics for washing and sanitizing packaging, and help to create safer, more automated refill and reuse in grocery stores and retail environments. With the Essentials of Reusable Packaging, you’ll learn about numerous examples and best practices for collecting, washing, sanitizing, and refilling packaging. 
  3. Reuse is also about refill
    Refillable packaging, another form of reuse, may demonstrate key advantages in today’s home-bound times. Many refill brands are based on direct-to-consumer models with low-cost or free shipping, allowing consumers to receive the same product with less packaging to dispose of at home, while also offering customization and subscription models. For instance, refillable personal care companies like Myro and byHumankind allow you to personalize the formulation and design of your deodorant packaging, and offer subscriptions for timely refills. Soda dispensing solutions like Sodastream and Pepsi Spire let users mix flavors and choose the quantity and carbonation levels, creating new products without leaving the house. Cost savings from refills may also become increasingly important. Cleaning companies like Truman’s offer concentrated refills that promise to save customers money by reusing their spray bottles. Reusable packaging requires big changes in consumerism, retail environments, and food service. Addressing its unique challenges can also be an opportunity to innovate in an uncertain world. The Essentials of Reusable Packaging is the first step to creating and advancing successful reusable pilots and business models. 


    This course is part of the Essentials of Sustainable Packaging training program. Courses are available online on-demand with a one-year subscription. Special discounts are available for SPC members.