Everyone knows the mantra – reduce, reuse, recycle – but reusing temperature-sensitive packaging has not been the normal practice in the pharmaceutical/life science sectors. However, changes are afoot.
Nadine Siqueland, VP Global Sales for CSafe Global, explains, “Reducing the amount of packaging going to landfill is a priority for corporations and governments and one of the best ways of achieving this is to reuse as much as possible, as often as possible.”
The global market for sustainable packaging is forecast to reach $244 billion by 2018, according to a report by Smithers Pira(1). The same report also found that of 141 top companies that are part of the World Business Council for Sustainable Development, those that used sustainable strategies performed better in almost every market segment than their respective counterparts. On average, the sustainable companies returned about 4% higher margins.
However, in the pharmaceutical supply chain, reusing packaging has not been normal practice as packaging degrades with time and transportation conditions and the extent of the degradation (and thus performance) cannot be gauged by eye. This is one of the reasons why CSafe introduced REPAQ®, the first reuse packaging program that thermally re-qualifies packaging prior to reuse. In 2014, customer participation in CSafe’s REPAQ program grew by 47% and the customers are averaging return levels of between 55 and 81% (averaging 74%) with significant savings in both landfill and program costs.
Nadine added “ULDs and expensive thermal cool boxes are widely reused, but many in the cold chain have been wary of reusing other insulated packaging because they could not guarantee its performance more than once. However, based on REPAQ’s historical performance, when packaging is professionally re-qualified to ensure its viability, then it is safe to reuse again and again. Customers in our REPAQ program return the packaging to us, we clean it, inspect it, re-qualify it via thermal testing and return it to the customer ‘as good as new’. The regulators are much more supportive of this model.”
(1) The Future of Sustainable Packaging to 2018