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Trends and opportunities for reusable B2B-packaging

Publication date: May 28, 2021

Reuse systems are gaining popularity as a way to reduce the environmental impact of packaging. In the business-to-business (B2B) market, reusable packaging systems have been widely used for some time. Mainly for financial reasons, but more and more parties also see and appreciate the environmental benefits. This is an extra reason for implementation.

Trends and opportunities for reusable B2B-packaging


What opportunities and trends are there in the field of reusable B2B packaging? And what can business-to-consumer models learn from this? On 27 May 2021, the KIDV Community of Practice on Reusable Packaging held a webinar on this topic.

Missed the webinar? At the bottom of this page you can watch the recording.

Tim Debus from Reusable Packaging Association (RPA) kicked off the webinar with a number of examples of reusable packaging in the B2B market, such as pallets, crates, drums, bulk containers and big bags. RPA is a non-profit organisation dedicated to connecting industry players in order to expand, innovate and validate reusable packaging systems. Debus identifies three major opportunities for reuse in the B2B sector: 

  1. Supply chain resilience: building flexibility and resilience in the chain by working together and supporting each other.
  2. So-called smart packaging based on advanced technology, which makes it possible to keep track of where the reusable packaging is at any moment, what the stocks are, etc.
  3. B2B reuse systems as a basis for the expansion of B2C reuse models. B2B systems can be seen as the foundation on which B2C systems can build. Think for example of a combined wash centre, allowing the use of reusable packaging to be scaled up and costs to be reduced.

Debus' presentation can be found here.

Simon Bosschieter of 4FOLD zoomed in on a practical example of B2B reusable packaging: 'a real sustainable supply chain innovation'. The maritime sector faces an enormous challenge to reduce CO2 emissions significantly by 2050. Every year, the world sees more than 800 million container movements. Of these, 20 per cent are empty at sea and no less than 40 per cent on land. With stackable and foldable containers, 4FOLD offers a solution: the empty container can be folded up to a quarter of its volume. This means that four folded containers form one continuous bundle, which is then handled as one container. The profit: up to 37 percent CO2 savings. According to Bosschieter, the foldable container can also be applied in other sectors, such as so-called 'hangertainers' for the fashion industry. 

View Bosschieter's presentation here.

During the webinar, other reusable B2B solutions were also discussed. Marcel Keuenhof, project manager of the CoP Reusable Packaging at KIDV, reviewed a number of other inspiring examples, such as Worldbag, Palloorang and Loadhog. More information can be found in his presentation, click here.


The last presentation in the programme was given by Patricia Megale Coelho, researcher at the Copernicus Institute of Sustainable Development of Utrecht University. Her research covered both the classification of reusable packaging and the environmental impact when comparing reuse with disposable. It showed that a number of key parameters influence the success of reusable packaging: choice of material and percentage of recycled material in the production phase; the number of cycles to break even with single-use packaging, the return rate and the transport mode and distance in the service phase. And finally, the chosen approach (recycling, incineration, landfill) in the end-of-life phase.

According to Megale Coelho, a B2B supply chain offers a number of advantages when using reusable packaging. For example, you have more control over the return logistics, as this is part of the business model. In addition, she tipped, like Debus, to look for a shared logistics and infrastructure: being part of an existing standardised system can lead to cost and impact reductions.

Click here for Megale Coelho's presentation.

Watch the recording of the webinar

KIDV Community of Practice Reusable Packaging

To further explore common challenges and opportunities of reusable packaging, KIDV has established the Community of Practice Reusable Packaging in 2019. It brings together parties that are working to make their packaging more sustainable by studying and implementing reusable options. Participants include supermarkets, brand owners, service providers, start-ups, knowledge institutions and NGOs. Click here for more information about the CoP Reusable Packaging. The next webinar from this CoP is expected to take place in July. Keep an eye on the website for more information.

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