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The USA is adopting new purchasing habits, more in line with their environmental concerns. Their attention is particularly focused on packaging.

The USA is adopting new purchasing habits, more in line with their environmental concerns. Their attention is particularly focused on packaging.

For their part, more and more companies are already modifying theirs to meet government expectations regarding the ban on single-use plastic.

Recyclable packaging is one of the most popular alternatives, but there are also other solutions, such as reusable packaging. What is reusable packaging and what are its advantages? We will explain everything to you !

The reuse of cardboard packaging has many advantages.


The packaging is an integral part of our consumption patterns today. Almost everything is packed, sometimes even overpacked. While this can bring comfort to our daily habits, the environmental impact of packaging is not trivial, quite the contrary.

The primary purpose of packaging is to protect. This may involve ensuring the integrity of a product during its transport or storage, for example by avoiding shocks that could damage it.

This also makes it possible to preserve its qualities, in particular in the context of food packagingToday it is also used as a marketing support for companies : it allows the product to differentiate itself on the shelves, to highlight its qualities, to attract the eye of consumers and to communicate around the brand. The usefulness of packaging is therefore real.

However, it is limited: the packaging goes into the trash as soon as the product is unpacked since it has finished fulfilling its role. This leads to an immense production of waste and plastic is far from being the only one concerned: several million tonnes of waste are generated each year just for paper and cardboard.

Recycling provides a partial response to this problem. However, there are other alternatives to explore to limit the production of waste: reusable packaging is one of them.


Reusable packaging is intended to be used again, as the name suggests. Note that this does not apply, at least for the moment, to all materials. Packaging can only be reused in a specific context:

  • The use must be identical to that originally planned: for example, a cardboard box used to wrap parcels will be reused for the same purpose; 
  • The packaging must be able to be traced : the origin of this secondary packaging must be known, as well as the entire route taken to end up with its reuse;
  • It must have been cleaned by an industrial washing system: the cleaning process is strict. This aspect is very important since proper cleaning guarantees the qualities of the reused packaging.
    This is all the more essential when it comes to packaging dedicated to food products. For example, in the case of a glass bottle that will be reused and therefore put back on the market.

Reusable packaging, therefore, differs from reusable packaging. Here, we focus specifically on packaging, but this definition also encompasses all products, substances and materials dedicated to being reused.

In the USA, reusable packaging mainly concerns, for the moment, glass. Other materials are gradually taken into accounts, such as rigid plastic, metal, or fabric. Companies are already offering to reuse the boxes. This is particularly the case of Ecorep.

This company buys used cardboard boxes from companies, then processes them to give them a second life and resells them. The repurchase cost is higher than the price of cardboard waste, so for companies, it is advantageous.

The purchase price of these reused boxes is also lower than the prices usually charged for new packaging, and all traditional formats are offered. Reusable cardboards can then be a real source of savings, in addition to facilitating waste management.


As we have seen, reusable packaging must meet strict criteria. In the household circuit, the reuse system follows several stages:

  • Collection: it can be done in business, but also at home for individuals. The packaging is collected and stored while awaiting transport to a site responsible for giving it a second life;
  • Transport: ideally, you have to wait until you have a sufficient quantity of packaging to proceed with the removal. This is not an obligation, but it makes it possible to limit the number of transports, and therefore greenhouse gas emissions;
  • Cleaning: the packaging is washed thoroughly in accordance with strict standards. All impurities are removed to avoid the risk of contamination. Potential faults, which could lead to breakage, for example, are also detected to be corrected when possible. Otherwise, the packaging is then recycled;
  • Pre-filling: this step applies to the packaging of the glass bottle type. In the case of cardboard boxes, it will be a question of reformatting them to make them again ready for use;
  • Return to point of sale or distribution: the boxes can also be sent directly to companies when they buy them through a company such as Ecorep. The purchasing process is done in the traditional way: companies select the cardboard formats they need, order and are delivered.

What is the difference between reuse and reuse?

It is easy to confuse reusable and reusable cardboard, the terms seem so similar. However, these are indeed two different types of secondary packaging.

Reuse is a special process that meets the criteria set out above. When the packaging is not traced or cleaned before being re-injected into the circuit, we speak of reuse. If the packaging is used for a purpose other than that for which it was designed, this too will be referred to as reuse, and not reuse.


Reusing packaging, including cardboard, has many advantages. The effects on the environment go far beyond the mere production of less waste. Among the advantages of reusable packaging, we can cite:

  • Improve the economic results of companies: this makes it possible to reduce expenses related to packaging, but also all those which result from it, such as the consumption of resources or the volume and treatment of industrial packaging waste. Companies can also, in addition to buying packaging at a reduced price, resell those they no longer use, which further reduces the bill.
  • Extend the lifespan of packaging to reduce its environmental impact: its durability is one of the important challenges for preserving the environment. Those that are reused are all packaging that will not need to be created by exploiting natural resources.
  • Limit the production of waste.
  • Give packaging a second life. For example, in the automotive industry, packaging can be reused 3 to 5 times. It also gives them a second life in e-commerce, which is particularly a consumer of cardboard packaging.
  • Commit to the environment.
  • Join a more eco-responsible approach ...

More generally, to be of interest in terms of environmental performance, reuse must meet several conditions. For example :

  • Control of the value chain;
  • Proximity to places of consumption, washing, and packaging;
  • Packaging design;
  • Consumer engagement;
  • Involvement of distributors;
  • Efficient organization of collection;
  • Eco-efficient washing process.

 Opting for reusable packaging is an important first step for companies, but the approach must be more global and be part of a circular economy process to really respond to new environmental challenges.

It should also be emphasized that, while the economic attraction for companies is real, it too depends on several parameters that must be taken into account. For example, the constitution of reusable packaging parks can generate additional costs.

The latter could however be passed on or recovered, in whole or in part, on other levers, which will make it possible to balance the balance, or even to achieve savings in the medium and long term. That being said, when favoring the reuse of packaging, the primary objective should not be the search for savings at all costs, but the ecological commitment.

This commitment represents a key selling point in the eyes of consumers. This is another lever to use to improve the image of the company, attract new customers, and increase sales. It should therefore not be overlooked.

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