At the upcoming PackExpo meeting (Chicago, Nov. 6-9), Cardinal Health will be receiving the Excellence in Reusable Packaging award from the Reusable Packaging Assn., a Tampa, FL trade association that promotes reusability in materials and packaging processes. Cardinal Health is winning the award through a multi-pronged program of providing for temperature-controlled shipping of, it says, $18 billion worth of pharmaceutical products annually that move between its distribution centers, and from DCs to 24,000 retail pharmacy locations around the US.
As detailed in an earlier report, Cardinal Health has worked with its packaging supplier, Sonoco ThermoSafe, over several years on a variety of temperature-controlled shipping solutions. One is reusable liners and gel packs (branded as PureTemp) for the totes it uses in retail deliveries; another is a pallet-size container (now marketed by Sonoco ThermoSafe as the LD7 Quarter PMC unit) for bulk deliveries. The Quarter PMC, when used on trucks, enables Cardinal Health to combine temperature-controlled and ambient shipments in the same truck, thus saving cost and complexity when compared to separate shipments. (The Quarter PMC is also used for bulk shipments on cargo aircraft.)
Usually, the issue of sustainability takes second chair when compared to performance and cost concerns in shipping high-value pharma products. But Cardinal Health has been able to achieve savings of some $15 million in direct and avoided costs by using the Sonoco ThermoSafe products. The tote liners and gel packs are reused upwards of 87 times; the Quarter PMC unit, 192 times and counting. Packaging disposal costs at receiving points are drastically reduced, and product spoilage has been cut by 90%.
“We have worked very hard across our network to reduce packaging waste through the use of sustainable, reusable packing components that protect costly refrigerated pharmaceuticals,” said Chris Anderson, Director of Quality Systems for Cardinal Health. “While we have been recognized for innovative solutions to maintain temperature and prevent product spoilage, it is also gratifying to be recognized for the sustainability benefits of our approach.”