The term “reusable” means the reuse of objects as opposed to disposable, where objects are discarded after they have been used. Reusable objects are playing a role in particular in the packaging industry, but also with goods that are surrounded by a shell, which extends beyond a mere packaging function, in this context, for example, refillable cigarette lighters.

The best-known reusable system is probably to be found in the beverage industry. Here, reusable bottles are lent for payment of a deposit, and then cleaned when empty and, if not damaged, refilled. The benefits are lower raw material consumption and energy savings during the manufacture of the reusable bottles, as smaller quantities are required. These points, as well as the waste prevention associated with it, also have an impact on the cost benefits.

Reusable packaging is not only an important topic in retail but also in the industry. For the same reasons as in the beverage industry, the disposable packaging is often dispensed with. This is frequently determined in logistics guidelines and therefore is also binding for the suppliers of the company concerned. Parallel with the deposit system, a rental system has taken shape in the industry, which financially penalises long holding periods of a reusable container. This is to ensure high circulation speed and promote the economic use of resources.

Examples for reusable containers in the industry are European pallets, wire-mesh pallets and plastic crates with and without lids in various sizes. If the packaged goods permits, reusable containers of standard dimensions are used, while also being stackable to achieve ideal utilisation of the transport and storage space,. Modular packaging ensures that reusable containers can be used without any problems by several stations of a supply chain.