Returnable crates for increased circularity
The use of returnable crates minimises the prevalence of single-use packaging whilst simultaneously allowing for simpler and more efficient handling in the goods flow. On the advanced level, returnable crates shall be used throughout the value chain to contribute towards a transition to circular solutions. Other relevant product groups can be included on agreement with the supplier.
- Technical specification
- Packaging food sector
Processed products made from fruit and vegetables, such as fresh, chilled vegetables and root vegetables/potatoes that are peeled, washed and chopped, and precooked products shall be delivered in a returnable crate throughout the value chain from the primary producer/processing plant to the kitchen; that is, the products shall be delivered in reusable packaging that is designed to be reused via a reuse system during its lifecycle in accordance with SS-EN 13429:2004.1 Packaging – Reuse or an equivalent standard.
Upon request, the supplier shall be ready to present one of the following; for example:
- An affiliation agreement with a reuse system in accordance with SS-EN 13429:2004 Packaging – Reuse or an equivalent standard, such as Svenska Retursystem AB.
Check that the supplier has an affiliation agreement with Svenska Retursystem AB or another reuse system in accordance with Packaging – Reuse SS-EN 13429:2004 or an equivalent standard.
Information about the criterion
Under this requirement, repackaging by the wholesaler is avoided because a returnable crate is used throughout the value chain from primary producer/processing industry to the kitchen. On agreement with the supplier, the requirement makes it possible to also include other product groups, such as meat and deli, and dairy products such as cheese and butter.
The requirement makes exception for products that have been packed in single-use packaging such as shipping packaging at primary producers/processing plants, including bananas, exotic fruit and chillies. This requirement can be used in combination with the base-level requirement.
It is important to conduct dialogue and a market analysis before setting this requirement so as to assess what kinds of tenderer are able to join a return system and what other products are suitable for delivery in a returnable crate. A connection to a return system must also be implemented in the organisation's own operations, such as through the application of deposits and a coordinated distribution of goods. Read more about market analyses under Innovation in procurement.
Svenska Retursystem is developing a common return system for the distribution of goods in the food sector. All interested parties in the industry are collaborating in developing a system that is as efficient and environmentally friendly as possible. Distribution is done with the help of returnable crates and returnable pallets. Further information about Svenska Retursystem.
The size of the climate impact of packaging can vary in relation to the foodstuffs that are packaged. In order to contribute to a transition to circular solutions, returnable boxes can be used throughout the value chain. For fruit and vegetables, the climate impact of packaging in relation to the product is assessed to be medium (5-25 percent) to large (>25 percent).1 It is desirable to reduce the amount of single-use packaging also for other types of foodstuffs and thereby contribute to a more efficient use of resources.
Returnable boxes used for handling foodstuffs can result in a reduced environmental burden because the returnable boxes and returnable pallets are used hundreds of times and then recycled. Returnable boxes and returnable pallets are also adapted for use in automated processes. A coordinated washing of returnable items also ensures that water consumption is minimised and that energy used for washing is fully utilised. Returnable containers and boxes have a long service life and can also be recycled when they reach end-of-life.
In 2020, Svenska Retursystem entered into a collaboration with the Swedish Brewers Association in order to develop a returnable pallet made from 100% recycled plastic for Systembolaget. The long-term goal is for all recycled plastic to be sourced from Sweden for production that is planned to take place in the Czech Republic. The new prototype pallet in development shall consist of 100% recycled plastic, be 100% recyclable and have a service life of 15 years. The pallet shall gradually replace the old ones and will be part of an initiative for moving towards a more circular, sustainable and controlled logistics flow.2
1The climate impact of primary packaging for different food groups. Basis for climate certification. Report 2009:1 (In Swedish).
The version date indicates when the sustainability criterion was created or last updated. Last reviewed dated tells when we last checked that the sustainability criterion still is relevant.
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- Version date
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