WASHINGTON -- Field and laboratory tests show that corrugated, common, footprint containers and compatible, returnable, plastic containers -- those that meet the International Corrugated Case Association's guidelines and share common footprint and tab/receptacle locations so they fit together with CCFs -- offer similar performance when mixed together on a pallet in the transport of fresh produce from distribution centers to retail stores.
The trials, sponsored jointly by the Corrugated Packaging Alliance, Indianapolis, and the Reusable Pallet and Container Coalition, Washington, also showed mixed loads performed as well as loads that were 100% CCF or 100% RPC.
The goal was to assess the shipping integrity of mixed-unit loads containing both CCFs and RPCs, as well as the footprint, in the redistribution of produce. The tests, conducted over a four-month period in 2003, utilized both field shipping trials and laboratory simulation by Virginia Polytechnic Institute and Virginia Tech.
This was the first time the two industry organizations got together to sponsor compatibility testing. The results, being positive, bode well for the produce industry and for supermarkets -- even beyond their produce departments.
"Individual companies have done their own tests before, but this was the first time we and the Corrugated Packaging Alliance got together to do such testing. The results were good, and the significance is that it gives supermarkets the ability to comfortably use both plastic and corrugated containers for different produce commodities without fear of product damage," Allan Wasserman, president of the Reusable Pallet and Container Coalition, told SN.
That could save retailers money, Wasserman said.
"Certain commodities work very well with plastic, but corrugated may be the choice for others. So this allows supermarkets to pick and choose which commodities in which containers, without having to go 100% with one or the other. For instance, a supermarket's distribution center may not have a full pallet of cauliflower to send to a particular store. Now, they know they can mix apples and cauliflower and broccoli in plastic and corrugated together on the same pallet."