Single Trip Versus Returnable Packaging

How long does your retail packaging last?

Do you intend for it just to work once and then be recycled?

Or, can your customers use it multiple times?

Well, it’s not an easy decision.

Here’s what to consider:

1. Sustainability

The obvious benefit of returnable packaging is its longer life cycle. Customers can use it many times before it finally breaks down and must be recycled.

In fact, returnable packaging can last for years before you have to get rid of it.

So, this is an obvious opportunity for you to help the environment and advertise to your customers that you’re doing so.

Of course, single trip packaging loses to its returnable counterpart in this regard.

You can still recycle single trip packaging.

But because of the much shorter life cycle, it’s not nearly as environmentally friendly as returnable packaging.

2. Cost

As you might guess, single trip packaging costs less up front.

However, the savings you initially experience are a bit deceptive because you have to repeatedly buy that packaging over the long haul.

With returnable packaging, you won’t need to make so many future purchases.

So, creating a true cost comparison may be a bit tricky.

It’s something you may need to consider carefully on your own, while also asking for opinions from the various suppliers you consider.

3. Reliability

Customers want to have a good experience with your brand.

If your packaging falls apart while in the customer’s possession, that creates a bad experience.

And if this damages their product in some way, it could be a disastrous experience.

Returnable packaging, because it’s built to last years, easily outperforms single trip packaging in this regard.

You have to also consider how your packaging will perform in different types of weather.

Rain and snow can easily weaken and possibly destroy your packaging.

If you have tough elements where your customers are primarily found, that’s something to consider when choosing your packaging.

4. Customizability

Here again, returnable packaging wins out.

Single-trip packaging generally isn’t highly customizable because you usually have to purchase it in bulk.

Since returnable packaging doesn’t get purchased in bulk, it can be easily customized (which also usually offers a better brand experience).

Forget “Either Or” Thinking

When the dust all settles from the decision making process, most companies go with a mix of returnable and single trip packaging.

For the most part, returnable packaging wins out because of its sustainability, durability, and cost-effectiveness.

However, single trip packaging still may have its place in your company’s operations.

And only you can consider all the factors presented and make the best decision for your company.