The idea behind reusing packaging is that it prevents using many single-use packaging by using it repeatedly. Often this means that reusable packaging is collected, inspected and/or cleaned before being used again for the same purpose.
Potential benefits of reusable packaging are: - Reduction of waste, including littering - Reduction of CO2 emissions (dependant on transport distance, the energy needed for cleaning, etc.) - Reduction in packaging cost (dependant on number of cycles per packaging, return rate, etc.)
Check functionality as a function of the number of cycles.
Issues are material aging (mechanical properties) damage (micro scratch leading to mechanical failure and or loss of efficiency of closing system).
Check aspect as a function of number of cycles
issues are scratch, opacity, coloration.
Check food contact properties as a function of the number of cycles.
issues (for packaging containing polymer components) are absorption and retromigration of food and non-food components, aging of the material leading to increase of low molecular weight compounds (migrants)
Check cleaning/disinfection efficiency to improve the balance cleaning efficiency and packaging damage.
Evaluate the environmental benefits compared to a single-use situation
World Economic Forum report on reusable plastic packaging (2019)
Reusable vs single-use packaging: a review of environmental impact - University of Utrecht, Reloop & Zero Waste Europe, 02-Dec-20.
Utrecht University publication “Sustainability of reusable packaging – Current situation and trends”
Community of Practice for Reusable Packaging by KIDV (Netherlands Institute for Sustainable Packaging). Among other developed a calculation tool
Design Guidelines for designers, developers, brand owners & manufacturers of reusable packaging
"Reuse" means any operation through which a package, conceived and designed to accomplish, within its life cycle, a minimum number of trips or rotations, is refilled or used for the same purpose for which it was conceived, with or without the support of auxiliary products present on the market enabling the packaging to be refilled. Such reused packaging will become packaging waste when no longer subject to reuse.