Reusable transport packaging can green fashion supply chains

04 January 2024 2 min. read

Clothing manufacturers and retailers can significantly reduce the carbon footprint of their supply chains if they embrace reusable transport packaging solutions. However, several barriers need to be overcome to successfully implement reusable transport packaging. This is according to a new white paper from Supply Value.

Given the complex and globalized supply chains of the fashion industry, transport packaging waste represents a significant issue. Global demand for cardboard packaging materials continues to be on the rise, with consumption around the world at around 200 million tons. This results in serious levels of emissions and negatively affects ecosystems.

Reducing the consumption of new materials by reusing packaging materials has shown particularly useful in lowering the carbon footprints of fashion retailers. Besides being an effective sustainability measure, it is also relatively cost-effective, according to the white paper.

Herbruikbare verpakkingen een duurzame kans voor fashionbranche

“To address the environmental impact of packaging, fashion retailers need to reconsider their packaging practices,” states the Supply Value report.

“This includes embracing the principles of the 3R framework: reduce, reuse, and recycle. By reducing the amount of packaging material, introducing reusable transport packaging, and promoting recycling, fashion retailers can improve efficiency, reduce resource consumption, and minimize waste.”

In a survey of supply chain representatives at fashion retailers, some of the main drivers for using reusable packaging were to avoid disruptions with the supply of new cardboard materials, to reduce costs, and to benefit from a reputation for sustainability. Respondents also noted some of the barriers, which include initial investment costs, logistics around return shipments, and complexity in supply chains, which can make big changes difficult.

“It is clear that packaging is a major contributor to supply chain and household waste generated by the fashion industry. As the sector continues to grow, driven by fast fashion and e-commerce, the problem of transport packaging waste is expected to worsen,” the report notes.

Headquartered in the Netherlands, Supply Value is a management consulting firm specialized in supply chain and procurement. The firm’s works with retailers and fashion groups on improving and greening their operations, including transport packaging.

“The key to successfully implementing reusable transport packaging builds on a number of critical success factors,” write the authors. These include strategic, organizational and operational topics, both within own operations as well as across the value chain at suppliers and other stakeholders.