Innovation and partnering with customers are key to driving circularity in the supply chain further. Together with our partners, we are constantly working on innovations and deploying new tools and technologies such as the Internet-of-Things (IoT) and other traceability tools.

Alberto Madariaga Eroski

Eroski: a sustainable partnership in return logistics

Interview with Alberto Madariaga, Chief Operating Officer at Eroski

Eroski is a leading Spanish retailer with over 1,600 locations across the country and more than 28,000 employees. The collaboration between Eroski and EPS started more than 25 years ago. Over the years, Eroski and EPS have developed a strong partnership and have been working together towards more sustainability impact in the value chain.

Eroski aims to be a net zero company by 2050. This ambition is part of the retailer’s 10 commitments on Health and Sustainability and aligns with the EU Code of Conduct on responsible food business and marketing practices. To support our ambition, we continue our commitment to further reducing CO2 emissions, reducing the use of plastic packaging, and moving towards zero waste and 100% recyclable packaging.

In 2021, we received our first Lean&Green star for reducing the carbon emissions in our logistics and transport processes by more than 25%. In this way, we avoided more than 25,800 tonnes of carbon emissions. We expect to achieve a reduction of 30% in carbon emissions in 2022, and we are working towards a reduction of 40% by 2023.

Working together with EPS contributes to achieving our sustainability targets, and more specifically it helps us to significantly reduce the carbon emissions in our return logistics. The benefits of EPS’s reusable packaging lie at the core of our partnership, and we have been further improving the return logistics model together. The circular business model of reusable trays has significant sustainability benefits compared to single use packaging of cardboard or plastics. At Eroski we use EPS trays for fruit, vegetables, meat, poultry, bread and bakery products. 

We are exploring the use of reusable trays for other products too, such as eggs and fish. As the trays are foldable and available in different heights, we can easily stack to different heights and optimise the loading degree of trucks. This enables efficient transport, for both full and empty trays.

EPS takes care of our return logistics and manages almost all of Eroski’s return centres. There is only one return centre that we still manage by ourselves. The return centres are located nearby our distribution centres, and the short distances allow us to create synergies in transport and to significantly reduce our transport kilometres, and hence reduce carbon emissions. EPS does not only manage the return of trays, but also collects other packaging flows at the stores, such as pallets, cardboard and plastics. Having only one supplier that manages all these flows drastically increases the efficiency of our return logistics. At the return centres, trays and pallets are cleaned, repaired and prepared for transport to our suppliers. The waste streams of plastics and paper packaging are collected directly at the return centres by other partners for recycling into new packaging materials.

Our partnership builds on continuous improvement. In EPS we find an agile and adaptive supplier, that offers innovative solutions and who goes the extra mile. For example, EPS supported us in fully automating the order picking for our stores, making this much more efficient. Service is always of great quality, even throughout

Covid-19 when our sales increased due to the circumstances. At the returns centres, we continue to improve logistics and work together to reduce energy and water consumption in the cleaning process of trays.


“Working together with EPS contributes to achieving our sustainability targets, and more specifically significantly reduces carbon emissions in our return logistics.”

Alberto Madariaga, Chief Operating Officer at Eroski


Bartolome EPS

“Through our strategic collaboration with Eroski we are taking a next step in driving efficiency and sustainability in the value chain further.”

Bartolome Saro, Regional Director South at EPS



Bekuplast: a strategic partnership driven by sustainability

Bekuplast is one of Europe's leading manufacturers of reusable transport packaging made of plastic. Bekuplast has developed a strong partnership with EPS that is built on mutual trust and driven by sustainability and innovation.


At Bekuplast, our goal is to drive logistics forward using sustainable solutions. We were established in 1985 and have developed a long-term strategic partnership with EPG that is driven by innovation, bringing new solutions to the market. Ever since, our business has grown together with the success of EPG. Our collaboration with EPS started with a success story, namely the development of the foldable tray. It seems like a simple product, but it is the perfect fit for the supply chain because of its high quality and functionality. This was a revolution in supply chain logistics, drastically increasing efficiency and reducing the environmental impact.

Co-creation is a crucial part of our relationship. We develop new ideas and client solutions together, from engineering to the introduction of new products. Not only do we produce a large share of EPS’s trays, but we also take care of mould management and development. We are in daily contact, and this allows us to implement changes and adaptations quickly.

Together, we have developed the foldable trays even further, so that they are now only 3 cm thick and can be stacked even more efficiently. This smart innovation contributes to full mix unsorted return logistics. We continuously explore sustainable solutions for new categories beyond fruit and vegetables, such as bread and fish trays. We have also developed an award-winning banana tray together with EPS.

For Project Cyan, we have produced a large portion of the new generation green foldable trays. Furthermore, we have been recycling the blue trays into new trays and packaging materials. The grinded material is of very high quality and food-approved, and thus we can close the loop. It remains a challenge to use the right amount of recycled material in the production of new trays. Not only to maintain the high quality, but also to enable another round of recycling. This truly contributes to the circular business model of EPS.

The partnership with EPS helps us to better understand our clients and their needs, and to deploy our knowledge to develop better and smarter solutions. Consequently, we are becoming more successful.

Jörg Deglmann Bekuplast

“Our partnership with EPS is based on sustainability from the beginning, focusing on the co-creation of sustainable solutions.”

Jörg Deglmann, Managing Director at Bekuplast


Sustainability award for shared logistics in Italy

With the RED (Repair-E-Delivery) project, LPR Italy and Simpool provide a sustainable solution for the handling and controlling of pallets. The travel distances have been drastically reduced, while the service level for clients has improved. The project has received the ‘Logistics of the Year 2021’ award from Assologistica, Assologistica Cultura e Formazione and the magazine Euromerci.

In the RED project, LPR and Simpool have redesigned the entire logistics of collection, control and repair of pallets. Through the deployment of innovative IT tools and a deep knowledge of the national and regional market, the supply chain of the handling and control of 200,000 Dusseldorf pallets was restructured and optimised. Formerly, these pallets were handled and repaired by various French and Italian service centres.

By opening two new service centres in Lodi and Anagni (Italy), operated by Simpool, these pallets are now fully handled and controlled in Italy. The service centres are fully equipped to manage the LPR pallets with the highest standards of quality, certification and sustainability. Thanks to state-of-the-art equipment and qualified personnel, the centres are highly specialised in the repair of Dusseldorf pallets.

Through the RED project, we have been able to reduce our travel distances by 150.545 transport kilometres every year, thereby saving 121.34 tonnes of CO2. Furthermore, the service level for customers significantly improved because LPR can now deliver, collect and repair its pallets much faster. The RED project is a clear example of how sharing logistics can further drive sustainability and circularity in our supply chain.

LPR reducing carbon footprint

"The collaboration with Simpool in the RED project enables us to deliver our pallets faster, more efficiently and with significantly lower C02 emissions."

Vittorio Marabelli, Operations Manager at LPR Italy