Reusable containers for fruit and vegetables result in no less than 60% lower CO2 emissions than cardboard packaging. This is the conclusion of an extensive European study commissioned by the German organization Stiftung Initiative Mehrweg (SIM).
The independent German research institute Fraunhofer carried out the research in April 2018. The study can help players in the fresh food supply chain make well-founded choices if they want to further reduce their carbon footprint. For Euro Pool System, market leader in the field of reusable packaging in the fresh supply chain, this is further confirmation that reusable packaging can make a positive contribution to reducing CO2 emissions.
14.5 tonnes compared with 37.7 tonnes
In the study, the scientists compared the CO2 emissions of one-off cardboard boxes (CB = cardboard boxes) with reusable plastic containers (RPC = reusable plastic containers). They assumed the transport of 1,000 tonnes of fruit and vegetables. When using reusable packaging, the emissions amounted to 14.5 tonnes. When using cardboard packaging, CO2 emissions amounted to 37.7 tonnes (see figure). The emissions from using reusable packaging are much lower per rotation.
Actual transport distances
In the comparison between the packaging systems, the scientists included the production of the material, its life cycle and its disposal. They based this on actual transport distances in Germany, Spain, Italy, the Netherlands and France. The research was carried out according to the requirements of ISO 14040/44. These international standards focus mainly on the process of performing an LCA (Life Cycle Assessment). This means, among other things, that a committee of independent experts assessed the study (panel review).