Focus on reusable cold chain packaging
The different circuits for reusing insulated packaging
If at first glance, reusing a refrigerated packaging solution appears to be a cost effective solution which optimizes the TCO – Total Cost of Ownership, a key factor is to take into account in the costeffectiveness calculation of the packaging solution: the logistical circuit.
Let’s take a look at 3 reutilisation circuits: the pharmaceutical laboratory orders the delivery of its temperaturecontrolled products through its partner to a pharmaceutical Hub.
Reutilisation circuit of a pharmaceutical insulated box
Logistical circuit 1: The insulated solution is recovered by the logistician, then inspected and put back into the distribution network.
Logistical circuit 2: The packaging solution is recovered internally or disposed of.
Logistical circuit 3: The insulated packaging solution is sent back to the supplier.
Cost of transport for 3 different cold chain packaging solutions
Let’s compare the cost of transport of 3 packaging solutions (qualified packaging solutions at +2/+8°C for a duration of 120 hours) with a temperaturecontrolled shipment from Paris –Frankfurt, by lorry.
Solution  Use  Ext. Vol. (L) 
Net Vol. (L) 
Weight (Kg) 
Weight/Vol. Ratio 
Price packaging solution 
Price transport ParisFrankfurt 


A  Multiconfiguration  Single  220  72  18  33%  €85  €32.52 
B  Monoconfiguration  Single  166  56  21  33%  €300  €38.24 
C  Monoconfiguration  Reusable  141  56  25  42%  > €500  €38.24 
It should be noted that with a payload of 72 litres, solution A will cost €32.52 versus €38.24 for solution C. Insulated packaging solution C is therefore 15% more expensive while its net volume is 20% less. However, it offers more usable space (42% versus 33%), which allows a greater volume of temperaturecontrolled products to be shipped in a single journey.
Total cost of reuse for 3 different insulated packaging solutions
Let’s assume that in 100% of cases, the insulated packaging solution is sent back to the provider to be reintegrated into the distribution network. The packaging solution is systematically inspected by the receiving quality department. The cost of quality control is estimated at 20€  an amount corresponding to the time spent by the operator to inspect the packaging solution, or, the cost of inspection by an infrared system or other system chosen by the packaging solution provider.
The cost of storing the boxes is not taken into account in this case.
The cost of reusing the insulated packaging solution takes into account:
 the cost of shipping the packaging solution from Paris to Frankfurt by lorry;
 the cost of repatriating the insulated box from Frankfurt to Paris by lorry;
 quality control costs.
Calculation of the total logistical cost by insulated packaging solution:
Solution A: single use  multiconfiguration
Shipment 1: purchase price + transport, equals € 117.52.
Shipment 2: purchase price + transport, equals € 117.52.
Solution B: single use – Monoconfiguration
Shipment 1: purchase price (€ 300) + transport (€ 38.24) + return transport (€ 49.71) + inspection (€ 20) = € 407.95.
Shipment 2: transport (€ 38.24) + return transport (€ 45.88) + control (€ 20) = € 104.12.
Shipment 3: transport (€ 38.24) + return transport (€ 45.88) + control (€ 20) = € 104.12.
Solution C: reusable – Monoconfiguration
Shipment 1 = purchase price (€ 500) + transport (€ 38.24) + return transport (€ 49.71) + inspection (€ 20) = € 607.95.
Shipment 2 = transport (€ 38.24) + return transport (€ 49.71) + inspection (€ 20) = € 107.95.
Shipment 3 = transport (€ 38.24) + return transport (€ 49.71) + inspection (€ 20) = € 107.95.
Total cost for 50 uses of the insulated packaging solution
Comparison of total logistical costs (insulated packaging solution and transport) of 2 singleuse insulated boxes and 1 reusable packaging solution for 50 uses
After 50 uses,
 Solution A comes to € 5 876
 Solution B comes to a total cost of 408 + 5 397 = € 5 805
 Solution C comes to a total cost of 608 + 5 206 = € 5 814
In this example, the total cost of the socalled reusable and singleuse insulated packaging solutions is essentially the same.
But let’s not forget that there is the basic assumption that the insulated box is returned in 100% of cases, with possible reuse. In reality, insulated packaging solutions are not all returned and are not all reusable 50 times.
Let us therefore calculate the total cost for repurchasing an insulated packaging solution every 10 uses.
Comparison of total logistical costs (insulated packaging solution and transport) of 2 singleuse insulated boxes and 1 reusable packaging solution repurchased every 10 uses
Based on the assumptions made, we see that after 5 uses, the total cost of a singleuse insulated packaging solution is more costeffective.
However, be sure to remain cautious of the reported values. All logistics are different and a preliminary study should be carried out to choose the most costeffective logistical solution in terms of TCO for your insulated packaging solutions, and of course the most secure.
Our cold chain experts can assist you to identify the most suitable insulated packaging solution for your cold chain logistics, contact us!