Navigating Reusable Packaging in The Healthcare Sector

Reusable packaging is perfectly suited to tackle difficulties faced by the pharmaceutical and healthcare sectors, such as IoT, e-commerce, solid waste reduction, and supply chain optimization. These sectors have long utilized reusable packaging. Reusable packaging goods are frequently shipped to pharmaceutical manufacturing facilities.

Examples include liquid IBCs and pallets. While reusable pallets as well as health and beauty aid totes are frequently used to deliver pharmaceutical products to retail outlets outside of the plant, using reusable containers and trays within the plant also improves production efficiency.

Benefits of Reusable Packaging


Reusable packaging offers significant benefits on three fronts: environmental, economic, and social.

1. Environmental benefits

  • Cuts greenhouse gas emissions
  • Reduces energy consumption
  • Supports source reduction
  • Prevents waste from reaching the solid waste stream.

2. Economic benefits

All of the financial advantages lead to a quick return on investment. They include:

  • Lowers labor and overall packaging costs
  • Requiring less storage space, which lowers inventory
  • Standardized loads lead to fewer trips
  • Lower cost-per-trip by reducing fuel costs

3. Social benefits

  • Increases workplace productivity and safety
  • Can be recycled at the end of its use

Reusable Packaging Is On The Rise

Fortunately, healthcare supply chain decision-makers are becoming more aware of the value of reusable packaging. A report published in 2020 indicates that the use of reusable packaging in the pharmaceutical and healthcare industries is increasing.

In a poll done before the COVID-19 outbreak, 80% of participants stated that they had significantly increased or barely increased their use of reusable packaging over the preceding 12 months. Over the coming 12 months, demand was anticipated to increase for all respondents, with 60% anticipating a large increase and 40% anticipating a modest increase.

Still, the industry is struggling with challenges that affect the adoption of reusable packaging. As such, there is more that needs to be done to improve reusable packaging in the industry.

Navigating the Reusable Packaging Program


There are numerous obstacles to overcome when executing a return and reuse program across numerous investigative sites, frequently located in numerous different countries.

1. Achieving standardization

It is challenging to establish such a program quickly due to the intricacy of achieving common practices across several nations. For instance, since the US is a single country, the return and reuse program has been quite simple to introduce and implement. On the other hand, because there are so many nations in Europe, it is quite difficult to implement. Distinct European nations have quite different processes for collaborating with hospitals, and carriers’ levels of service also differ.

Due to this, businesses in Europe are probably going to establish these programs gradually, learning about the particular difficulties in each jurisdiction and creating strategies to increase compliance.

According to an industry source, “Even though shipping to hospitals is simple, it is far more difficult to implement reusable packaging in Europe. It is also much more difficult to retrieve the packaging from the numerous trial locations. In contrast to the 90% return rate in the US, Europe currently only has an estimated return rate of 70%, which is insufficient for the establishment of a system that is cost-effective.”

2. Bringing carriers on board

An additional challenge is getting the carriers to collaborate with healthcare organizations. Any return and reuse scheme heavily depends on carriers’ willingness to collaborate with pharma and healthcare firms in order to offer a financially viable alternative. It also heavily depends on the investigation sites’ willingness to follow the rules of a program that the pharmaceutical corporation has set forth.

What should be done to make these programs better so that their full potential for cost savings can be realized? The solution appears to be to make sure that everyone who has an impact on a program’s success is completely informed of the motivations behind it and the benefits it may offer.

According to specialists in the field, participation from all parties is crucial. The trial locations must be open to taking part. The carriers are skilled at both delivering and handling returns. To be cost-effective, you must avoid paying a premium for delivering an empty box, though.

The method of unpacking at various places, which can differ substantially, is another problem. In some circumstances, it is feasible to pick up the empty boxes right away, but in others, it might not be until the following day, at the very most, or perhaps a few days. Due to the complexity of the process, you must have a flexible system with the transporter in place while still maintaining the rules that the trial sites must follow.

There is a tremendous incentive for carriers to participate in return and reuse programs and create practical solutions. Reusable packaging is expected to play an increasingly significant role in the logistics operations of businesses across a wide range of industries, not just the pharmaceutical industry, all of which will be motivated by the desire to improve the efficiency of their supply chains.

Some of the most stringent criteria in regard to compliance, product integrity, and financial demands are probably provided by the logistical requirements of pharmaceutical businesses performing trials. As a result, it offers carriers a fantastic chance to create and refine solutions that can later be readily tailored to consumers in different industry sectors.


3. An uninformed consumer

Lack of information among end users is also another challenge that healthcare organizations should work on. Each business also has a role to play in promoting reusable packaging among consumers.

Giving your customers no information on how to deal with the product and its packaging is the worst mistake you can make as a sustainable company.

This presents them with the ideal opportunity to simply discard things without thinking about recycling, composting, or reusing which leads to landfills becoming overfilled. Consider sending them guidelines through email marketing campaigns to help them refrain from the activity, or you can print them on tissue paper, wood fiber, and other void fillers to incorporate them into your marketing plan.

When you purchase your packaging material from GPA Global, you have the option of placing a sustainability badge on your packaging. You can include the “Reuse” label to allow your consumers to reuse the packaging or return it to your facility for reuse.

GPA Global is dedicated to offering specialized packaging solutions that minimize waste generation and adverse environmental effects. You can be confident that our packaging options take into account the product’s whole lifecycle, take any environmental implications into account, and use materials and processes that are supported by data.