Sustainable structure sees Chep move with the times

With a global network in 54 countries, more than 7,700 employees and over 75 sites in Australia alone, CHEP is a leading provider of pallet, container and crate pooling services. Here, Phillip Austin, president of CHEP Australia and NZ explains how its equipment is contributing to a more environmentally sustainable supply chain.

Australia’s supply chain infrastructure has been built around the CHEP pallet – every trailer in Australia is designed to be two CHEP pallets wide; every warehouse rack is precisely one CHEP pallet wide.  Globally, the company manages 237 million pallets, 600,000 bulk containers and 34.9 million reusable plastic containers. It goes without saying then, that CHEP plays an integral role in the manufacturing and logistics industries both here and abroad.

As the company that moves what we make – and with the environment front of mind for many of Australia’s manufacturers, retailers and consumers alike – CHEP’s business model is an inherently sustainable one. It’s based on a pooling system which essentially does away with one-way equipment use by customers.

Phillip Austin (pictured below) elaborates…

CHEP issues a piece of equipment to a customer who has it on hire until they transfer it – usually with their goods – to a trading partner. Equipment moves this way through the supply chain until it is not needed by the last customer in the chain, then is returned to CHEP for conditioning and reissue.

CHEP’s equipment pooling model is sustainable for a number of reasons: reuse of assets, maximised transport efficiency and the responsible use of resources.

Indeed, an independent lifecycle analysis of CHEP’s returnable plastic crate system shows, daily, the system saves more than 175 tonnes of greenhouse gas emissions, more than 1.2 million litres of water and more than 20 tonnes of solid waste compared to a one-way corrugated cardboard system.

The scale and density of CHEP’s network allows equipment to travel shorter distances, thereby minimising transport-related carbon emissions. Also, CHEP has accreditation to stack pallets 20-high on trucks instead of the industry standard of 18, saving around seven percent of emissions per trip.

And finally, CHEP equipment is 100 percent recyclable. Plastic crates and pallets are recycled at the end of their lives and ground up for reuse, in things like planter pots. Timber cut-offs and timber from damaged pallets are reused at service centres, with about 85 percent of a pallet used to repair other pallets. What is not suitable for repair is mulched and used as garden compost.

In 2010 we established a Sustainability Program to further enhance the sustainability value of CHEP’s pooling system to Australian supply chains, including food and beverage manufacturers.

Our Sustainability Program focuses on four key areas: customer, environment, people and community, and has targets for these to 2015.

Highlights from this program, which benefit Australia’s food and beverage supply chain include:

  • Our unique pool of reusable, recyclable Multi-purpose Beverage Trays (pictured here) eliminating around 1,250 tonnes of one-way cardboard packaging waste each year.
  • CHEP’s accreditation from the National Transport Commission to stack empty pallets 20-high on trucks rather than 18-high, saving fuel and reducing carbon emissions
  • Our in-kind support of equipment to key food distribution charities including Foodbank and The Smith Family, equalling around $800,000 per year.

The new CHEP Retail Beverage Tray and Display Pallet will be released into the Australian market early this year. The benefits of this new system will be similar to the existing Multi-purpose Beverage Tray and Display Pallet, which, as mentioned above, has reduced the environmental impact of the customer’s beverage supply chain by eliminating around 1,250 tonnes of one-way cardboard packaging each year.

The Retail Beverage Tray and Display Pallet will be a one-touch packaging solution. Beverages are packed into the trays and onto the display pallets at the point of manufacture and travel through the supply chain to point of sale.

Additionally, in some cases, transport efficiencies may be gained through loading additional units per vehicle compared to traditional packaging.

Add to this CHEP’s returnable plastic crate system, which is used by the fresh produce industry to cool products and deliver them to retailers and which, when compared to a one-way corrugated cardboard system, saves more than 175 tonnes of greenhouse gases and more than 20 tonnes of solid waste a day.

We are also developing a new generation fresh produce crate in consultation with industry. It is an improved version of the existing fresh produce returnable plastic crate and is expected to be at least as environmentally sustainable as its predecessor. And, like the current generation crate, it will be fully recyclable at the end of its life.


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