Reusable containers will become a community resource and the stewardship of this resource will be facilitated by digital technology

We are in the midst of a global economic digital renaissance that is truly enabling the individual to harness information and choice at their fingertips through smart phones and IoT devices. This movement is broadening the global marketplace to both buyers and sellers, and also broadening the number of participants from a macro socio-economic perspective. There have never been more buyers and sellers in any point in history, and the need for resource conservation in packaging has never been more self evident. The “Amazon Effect” has increased the use of single use cardboard containers substantially through their own operations, and their competitors who are following this blazed path of retail commerce in the 21st century.

At present, there are many examples of closed-loop reusable container systems. Automotive supply chains have converted most of their supply chain to a reusable container system. There are examples of retail distribution of high value merchandise (high theft-small items, think AA batteries, perfume, watches, tools, etc) where secure totes are used at pick and pack distribution operations then unpacked at retail stores where totes are stacked for return back to distribution centres.

Every person has a milk crate in their garage or basement (don’t lie, you do). The cost of container replacement is borne by every consumer of dairy, and the retailer has some shared burden of container deposit loss. Within large reverse logistics systems, often times whole skid loads of container assets are orphaned on trash docks and end up on mixed recycling trailers thus only benefiting recycling companies.

These are some of the scenarios that prevent any large entity from taking the plunge and investing in reusable container systems for their operations. They have the capital, but do not have the ability nor desire to invest in an asset class that requires stewardship, becomes untraceable once it has left their

protective domain and is preyed upon deliberately and lost unwittingly. However, there is a solution as I peer into the near future, and the solution is: Digitization.

Through digitization, a reusable container is more than a single use box. It can now become a product and a service, securely tracked to all points of travel. Reusable containers can be summoned in singles or truck load quantities, and with a finger tip and a smart phone, they can be collected on demand. The reusable container is a vehicle for big data, recording all aspects of every single transaction in real time and is a means of income to all who participate in the digital marketplace. Importantly, container ownership and the intellectual property it holds is inalienable. Property rights will be digitally verifiable. Especially important when containers are possessed (or stolen) by others who do not participate legitimately in the circular economy the reusable container has created.

We are closer than ever to solving a packaging pandemic by the threads that bind us – digitization, innovation, commerce, community and environment.

Coming Soon to your neighbourhood.

The Future is Now!