September 1, 2023

This is how to reduce losses caused by lost or stolen packaging

This is how to reduce losses caused by lost or stolen packaging

Theft and illicit trade of reusable load carriers like crates, pallets, dollies, trolleys, and carts not only increases the cost of sustainable packaging items but also creates a need for more of them. It's crucial to address this issue by implementing an efficient software solution to minimize the damage.

High costs due to packaging theft

Theft of returnable packaging is a global problem and has been going on for many years. In 2016 The Palm Beach Post reported: “Miami-Dade police arrested 20 people in connection with a theft ring blamed for the loss of $1.5 million worth of milk crates from area grocery stores. The investigation, which lasted eight months, found that the ring stole the plastic crates used to carry bread or milk from stores in Miami-Dade County and took them to recycling centers to be exchanged for cash.”

British paper Daily Mail reported in October 2020 that “Millions of pounds worth of plastic supermarket trays are being stolen by organised crime gangs and secretly recycled at firms across the UK.” The newspaper explains: “They should be collected and reused by their manufacturer, but widespread theft means the UK market has to produce more new plastic than it needs to keep food industry deliveries and transportation going.” It concludes the article quoting Paul Empson, General Manager of Bakers Basco Ltd, a consortium of leading bakers, saying: “This is a major, growing problem for the UK’s transport and logistics industries around the unethical recycling of stolen plastic items that don’t need to be recycled.”

Theft of returnable packaging is a common problem

Theft of pallets, crates, containers, and other reusable packaging items not only disrupts the supply chain but also incurs additional costs and undermines the environmental benefits of sustainable packaging.

In a blog by Susana Márquez Pedrouso, Manager, Asset Protection EU at CHEP titled The cost of pallet theft in the supply chain, we read pallets are a common item in warehouses and stockrooms. “They come in and go out, some of them stay. And usually, they’re not part of the stock control or audits when the core business is not pallet management.” She recalls of a previous job: “[..] my job was looking after the product placed on them. Who exactly looks after the pallets themselves?”

Trackable packaging items

With such high volumes of stolen crates, pallets and other returnable packaging, suppliers are actively taking measures. Rehrig Pacific, manufacturers of returnable and reusable packaging, now produce pallets, crates and other supply chain products with built-in RFID chips and GPS capability. 

We contribute as much as we can to preserving inventory”, they mention in a blog on their website, “but when necessary the real detectives come in. Police have busted theft rings around the country stockpiling plastics to sell overseas. Law enforcement has pushed for stiffer penalties against large-scale pallet theft and also helped raise awareness of the issue among the affected industries, the general public, and police forces around the nation.”

We may never completely eradicate theft of reusable packaging, but packaging registration software can reduce crime by providing insight and control.

“Awareness is growing rapidly”, this LA-based company reports, “and companies are working together to put a stop to plastics theft. Flowers Foods, a major producer of baked goods, has spread the word both internally and externally, to independent distributors, retail and foodservice customers. Together, they’ve driven down their losses to a mere 15%, which is half the industry average.”

High packaging losses call for awareness and responsibility

This highlights an alarming 30% loss of returnable packaging items within the industry, indicating that there is a significant opportunity for improvement. As mentioned in the CHEP blog, returnable packaging often falls outside of stock control or audits, leading companies to lose sight of the quantities and values of these valuable assets. To address this issue, it is crucial to increase awareness and responsibility surrounding these valuable items, in addition to combating theft and illegal trade.

By having a clear record of the number of items delivered, their recipients, and the necessary cost settlements, it becomes possible to track lost items and hold recipients accountable. As companies gain a deeper understanding of the value of their packaging, they will naturally become more vigilant in safeguarding it. This heightened awareness will enable them to detect lost items at an earlier stage, making theft easier to investigate and prevent.

Preventing theft through packaging registration

A comprehensive packaging registration system may seem like an insurmountable challenge to many. Various suppliers have their own approaches to handling returnable packaging, whether it's specifying it on packing slips, requiring customers to look it up in their online accounts, or occasionally providing an overview. While some crates and pallets can be easily returned as freight, others require advance registration or may be overlooked entirely.

This lack of oversight not only poses challenges for recipients in managing their inventory but also creates complexities for suppliers when it comes to planning and control, particularly in cases where return freight is not properly registered. Additionally, there are often specific agreements in place with carriers and customers regarding the responsibilities associated with pallets and other reusable packaging materials.

Automate packaging registration

PackControl is the number one tool to effortlessly monitor precise locations, values, deposit settlement and related responsibilities for all pooling packaging and your own reusable packaging. Exact quantities of pallets, crates and dollies can be confirmed upon receipt and even RFID tags can be registered.

Damaged or missing items can be registered and returns are easily scheduled. Investigating lost items gets easier, as you’ll know where to start. You’re on top of things, which will have a preventive effect and reduce theft and 'mysterious' losses. It will give you peace of mind and greater control over your packaging assets. 

Easy to implement packaging registration software

The PackControl packaging registration software is designed with simplicity and efficiency in mind, allowing for seamless implementation. This powerful software can easily integrate with your CRM, ERP, or WMS systems, with automatic import and processing of balance statements from pooling companies and other partners.

It also enables you to effortlessly share comprehensive overviews with your customers and suppliers in just a few clicks. Additionally, you can automate special agreements pertaining to responsibilities, ensuring smooth settlement of deposits and other associated costs.

By utilizing PackControl, you'll have more time to focus on the crucial task of locating missing items and determining accountability. Identify exactly when and where these items disappeared, and who is responsible. 

Reducing crime

We may never completely succeed in eradicating the theft of and illegal trade in pooling packaging and other reusable transport packaging such as folding crates, pallets, dollies, trolleys and trays. Adequate and efficient packaging registration software can, however, greatly reduce crime, simply because you have more insight and control. 

With PackControl, you gain enhanced insight and control, ultimately reducing the damages caused by the loss of reusable packaging. Discover the immense benefits of PackControl software today by exploring our range of software packages