International Paper developed a custom corrugated alternative to replace ‘Returnable Plastic Container’ (RPC) trays for the transport of packaged raw protein. The materials used are renewable, recyclable and compostable. The corrugated packaging does not need to be returned to be washed, eliminating food safety concerns and the considerable resource consumption in RPC logistics. This effect is amplified by the reduced weight and 70% lower freight space requirements of the corrugated alternative. For every trailer of corrugated trays unloaded, producers would have to unload 3.5 trucks of RPCs to move an equal amount of packaged raw protein.
Contrary to initial instincts, this single-use, recyclable solution is more sustainable compared to the prior multi-use solution, mainly due to the use of renewable input materials and reduced losses in logistics. The use of corrugated trays over RPCs results in less transportation, improved ergonomics for packing employees, faster run rates and ultimately significant cost savings. Freight costs savings of onion growers, for example, are estimated at $760,000 annually, while back-hauling RPCs can incur over $1 million in costs for shipping, handling and washing.
International Paper is a leading global producer of renewable fiber-based packaging, pulp and paper products. We produce corrugated packaging products that protect and promote goods and enable world-wide commerce.
International Paper customers challenged us to develop corrugated alternatives from renewable, fiber-based resources to replace ‘Returnable Plastic Container’ (RPC) trays. Driven by the concept of circularity, we are innovating renewable solutions that are reusable, recyclable or compostable to provide sustainable packaging alternatives. By creating renewable solutions that meet the evolving demands of consumers, we are accelerating the transition to a low-carbon economy.
International Paper developed a custom corrugated alternative to replace ‘Returnable Plastic Container’ (RPC) trays for the transport of packaged raw protein, building on sustainability successes in the use of corrugated trays in the produce segment. The replacement has a multitude of advantages:
Firstly, the materials used are renewable, recyclable and compostable, preventing the need for fossil fuel based plastic trays. Secondly, contrary to the RPCs, the corrugated packaging does not need to be returned to be washed, eliminating food safety concerns around cross-contamination, as well as considerable resource consumption in logistics. Eliminating the need to return plastic trays means the elimination of emissions generated in back-hauling empty trays to the provider for washing and the water required to wash them. Additionally, customers gain a revenue stream when they sell their corrugate to recycling facilities. Lastly, the new corrugated trays require less space/weight in initial transport, saving additional transportation impacts.
The single-use, recyclable solution is more sustainable compared to the prior multi-use solution, mainly due to the use of renewable input materials and reduced losses in logistics. The use of corrugated trays over RPCs results in less transportation, improved ergonomics for packing employees, and faster run rates, benefits which will translate to significant cost savings for customers. In the raw protein segment, corrugated trays use approximately 70% less freight space compared to RPCs, which translates to fewer trucks on the road. In freight costs alone, corrugated trays provide a considerable savings. A case study indicates that onion growers, for example, realize an annual cost advantage of approximately $760,000 using corrugated trays over RPCs in shipping out their produce.
We are committed to creating innovative, sustainable and recyclable products that help our customers achieve their objectives. That is why, as a part of the next generation of our company’s goals, we have set an enterprise-wide Vision 2030 goal of creating Renewable Solutions to accelerate the transition to a low-carbon economy through innovative fiber-based products. As a part of this goal, we will continue work across all of our businesses to advance circular solutions throughout our value chain and create innovative products that are 100% reusable, recyclable or compostable.