Delft University of Technology
Faculty Mechanical, Maritime and Materials Engineering
Transport Technology / Logistic Engineering

A.M. Beeksma Retourverpakkingen; inventarisatie van gebruiksvoorwaarden en bestaande systemen.
Literature survey, Report 93.3.LT.4114, Transport Technology, Logistic Engineering.

As result of recent governmental regulations and a common increasing conscience of environmental problems, companies are forced to reduce their packaging waste. One possibility for waste reduction is the use of returnable packagings. The use of returnable packagings brings on important changes in company logistics and the development of the packagings.

In this report we try to make a survey of the present knowledge of returnable packagings. Therefore some 100 recent articles and reports on this subject are surveyed; additional information supplied by several companies is included in the survey.
During the investigation most of the information appeared to belong to one of the three following apects of returnable packagings:
  • re-usable packagings in comparison with non re-usable packagings;
  • government regulations in several countries,
  • the logistic and technical construction of reverse-systems.

    A comparison of re-usable and non re-usable packagings can be made on account of ecological or economical considerations. The ecological performance of a packaging can be measured by determining the total environmental impact during the life-cycle of the packaging. If the results of these so called Life Cycle Analyses are not clearly in favour of the re-usable packaging, mostly the non re-usable packagings will be preferred, while they are usually cheaper. The costs of re-usable packagings highly depend on the logistic performance of the reverse system.

    For Dutch companies three laws/regulations are important: The Dutch "Convenant Verpakkingen", The German "Verpackungsverordnung" and the regulations of the European Community. As result of the Dutch regulations many developments have already taken place. lnternationally most of the developments have taken place in Germany. Therefore most of the information of this report comes from German sources.

    In spite of the fact that reverse systems are very specific for a company and a product, in Germany general methods are being developed for the introduction of reverse systems in companies. Besides that the choice in companies that deal with returnable packagings is growing fast these days. Most developments take place in the field of 'transportation packagings' (such as pallets and containers), because for those kind of packagings the necessary standardisation is relatively easy to accomplish.

    The main conclusion of this report is that many developments are taking place presently, but at this moment there is still a lack of profound information (especially in the field of logistics). We expect that in a few years much more information will be availabie, especially concerning the logistical aspects of reverse systems.

    Reports on Logistic Engineering (in Dutch)
    Modified: 2000.06.12; , TU Delft / 3mE / TT / LT.