The Returnable Packaging Association (RPA) defines ‘returnable packaging’ as packaging which includes “...reusable pallets, racks, bulk containers, hand-held containers and dunnage that move product efficiently and safely throughout the supply chain. Reusable packaging is typically used by manufacturers/processors and their suppliers/customers in a well-organized supply chain, with very tightly managed shipping loops. Returnable packaging is constructed of durable materials such as metal, plastic or wood and is designed to withstand the rough handling of a typical logistics system.” So, what does this all mean? Let me break it down.
The process begins with a ‘returnable pack’ – which is a vehicle that will go to the point of destination and come back. For example, a semi –truck you see on the highway is a returnable pack. Even the Space Shuttle is a returnable pack! Now, this is looking at the process in a large, outside sense. Returnable packaging is broken down into smaller components — the containers inside a returnable pack and the dunnage inside the container holding a part.