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Reuse has to be profitable and it will be

Emma Samson (Searious Business)

27 sept. 2023

There is a new (old) kid on the packaging block, and his name is Reuse.

Reuse is increasingly being promoted by government, industry and NGOs as the number one solution to shift away from single-use packaging and reduce our dependence on virgin resources. There are numerous LCAs confirming its environmental benefits. There are very valid discussions happening across the world about what the word actually means. Is it anything you can use more than once, or must it be part of a system? Is reuse the same thing as refill? How can we make customers accept it? What should it look like? Never mind how we're going to clean it, how are we going to dry it? Indeed, we see many brands and retailers huddled in confidential meetings, going around in circles to try and solve the problem of how to transition to reusable packaging. It seems they want it, so why do we still see so many companies and associations lobbying so hard against its inclusion in packaging legislation? Money.

At the end of the day, no company is willing to do something that will hurt its bottom line. They are afraid of high investment and ongoing operational costs to build a system that may well prove unpopular with their customers. Essentially, no one wants to go first. If only a big cross-sector, cross-country collaboration project would work out a systemic approach for the large-scale deployment of reusable plastic packaging (RPP) based on a multidisciplinary approach combining social, technological and economic innovations! Do you see what I did there?

Yes, I mean Buddie Pack, a project that will harness technology to design optimised RRP, test innovative cleaning (and drying) solutions, explore the behavioural psychology behind it all and, to mollify those corporate bean counters, we'll make sure every stakeholder profits along the way.   

Reusable Packaging systems must make economic sense if they are to be sustainable and enjoy widespread appeal. Work Package 4 of Buddie Pack, led by circular plastics agency Searious Business, is all about developing optimised business models across different user-case scenarios that are financially advantageous for all.

Searious Business and Zero Waste Europe recently conducted a related study analysing the costs and benefits of reusable plastic packaging versus their single-use counterparts. The Economics of Reuse was designed to clarify critical economic success indicators and return on investment of reusable packaging systems. Proving to the doubters that #ReuseAddsUp.

Willemijn Peeters, CEO of Searious Business:

"Reuse is now mathematically proven financially viable when operated at scale. This should support the transition towards a circular economy that PREVENTS plastic pollution rather than manages it."

We hope that Buddie Pack will shed even more light on the success factors of Reuse. So legislators can create a supportive regulatory framework, level that playing field, and build the infrastructure needed. Then, business leaders will jump in with their eyes wide open and invest in a healthy future for their business and our planet.

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