Eliminating Single-Use Packaging

The Problem

Single-use packaging is a standard concept in supply chains. It’s supposed to protect products from damage during transport but freight damage is still a major economic expense, not to mention the environmental expense. We had EARTH University in Costa Rica conduct a study for us to determine how big an expense this really is because their whole curriculum is based on banana cultivation and bananas are as vulnerable to damage as any product that requires protection during shipping. The following numbers are the result of their study and bear in mind that this is for bananas only and in Costa Rica only. The Cargo Carousel System (CCS) is the name of a completely new initiative that we are developing and it applies to all supply chains.

The Solution

Our company is called Circular Supply Chains Inc. (CSCI) and our mission is to eliminate single-use packaging, empty backhauls and partial loads in supply chains. The CCS is a patented supply chain “system” that is technologically advanced, dramatically more efficient, environmentally superior, socially more responsible to those who work within it and adheres to the principles of a Circular Economy. First we’ll explain the functionality of the CCS itself and then we’ll describe the complementary technologies that, when combined with the CCS, will provide a sustainable solution to eliminate single-use packaging, empty backhauls and partial loads in supply chains while providing an equitable benefit for everyone involved.

The CCS is a framework that supports a carousel like the one above. Each of the suspended platforms in the animated video replaces the wooden pallets that are currently being used in today’s supply chains. These platforms are then encased within a sturdy four-foot cubic box to create individual “modules” that protect contents far better than plastic wrap with the platforms acting as the base to support the lifting of the suspended modules by forklifts (fig.10). As each module is removed from the Carousel it creates space to put another module back on in its place so deliveries and pickups can be done simultaneously. This eliminates the need to do separate trips for deliveries and pickups (of recyclables). The Carousel itself is a standardized design to ensure it can handle any and all modules but the modules themselves can be custom built to suit any purpose. Two Carousels are fitted side-by-side, each within its’ own framework as shown in figures 4 and 5 and the combined system slides into a standard intermodal steel shipping container (seacan) or trailer.

The Banana Module is encased in heavy gauge wire-welded aluminum mesh to improve air flow for temperature control and an even flow of ethylene gas to ensure controlled uniform ripening. It is designed as a rack to support risers and the module can be divided into smaller racks for easier handling.

This riser design minimizes costly labor touch points at the retailers because it can be used as display fixtures. By swapping out entire fixtures of dated fruit for fresh fruit simultaneously and using the same module for supply and return, dated fruit can be sent on to soup kitchens or recycled as bio-fuels without the need for further labor or separate trips for supply and return. Please scroll down to “Next Steps” after viewing the following video:

The Next Steps

The cost savings from the CCS is substantial and has the potential to undercut current landed costs dramatically. When the environmental benefits of the CCS are added to the equation we begin to value the carbon credits that this system can provide. This may give us the leverage necessary to change the status quo and insert our own form of intelligent processes into global supply chains as we level the environmental, social and economic playing field for everyone. Federal funding from the Canadian government has already been secured to cover 50% of development costs and they require the balance of funding to come from an industry partner in cash or “in-kind” meaning the cash value equivalent of services or assets (i.e. trucks, software development, administration, hardware, etc.).

By convening partners to facilitate knowledge exchange, highlighting innovative investment approaches, building the evidence base for the industry, and producing valuable resources, CSCI seeks to accelerate this system’s development through focused leadership and collective action. Our strategy is not about just complying with what’s right – it’s about transformation.

The following entities have each expressed interest in helping us develop this system to benefit farmers and help provide solutions for eight of the UN’s seventeen Sustainable Development Goals.

Toyota Advanced Logistics Group have agree to provide engineering and production capabilities and we are currently in discussions with them for further distribution and aftermarket support.

AgroAmerica are one of the largest banana producers in the Western hemisphere and are willing to invest in this system and provide the requirements for a pilot project to ship bananas from their properties in Central and South America to North American and European markets using the Cargo Carousel System.

Banana Link are a non-profit headquartered in the UK that advocate for farmers and are willing to help us coordinate the necessary players to develop our pilot project as we focus on helping women and farmers around the globe.

Popma Fruit Expertise is a consultancy located in the Netherlands with a 30-year history focused on banana cultivation, shipping, ripening and retailing. Its Managing Director, Frits Popma, had agreed to help us oversee the development and execution of our pilot program.

VDH Products BV is a world leader in the development and distribution of ripening systems for climacteric fruits and for storage systems for all produce. VDH will be working with Carrier Transicold to help develop a ripening system that can be utilized while products are still in transit. Ripening chambers in the distribution center take up valuable real estate that can be better utilized for storage and the risk of ethylene gas escaping to affect other fruit in storage is eliminated when ripening occurs in transit.

Eurasian Connection are dedicated to building bridges between the continents of Europe and Asia as service providers, matchmakers, counselors and creative business partners for Asian companies with the ambition to expand into Europe or for European enterprises with their activities moving into Asia and specializing in agriculture, but also in retail management, cold chain management and supply chain management.

Carrier Transicold helps improve transport and shipping of temperature-controlled cargoes with a complete line of equipment and services for refrigerated transport and cold chain visibility and will work with VDH Products BV to develop leading technologies for ripening in transit to bypass the ripening centers and the distribution centers and their costly labour requirements.

The CCS represents the platform upon which we can further research the capabilities of new leading edge technologies to advance this solution beyond agricultural applications alone. These technologies include Robotics, Internet of Things, Distributed Ledger Technology (Blockchain), Artificial Intelligence, Cloud/Edge Computing, Analytics, Physical Internet, ICT, etc.

We are advancing this project to prove that single-use packaging, empty backhauls and partial loads can actually be eliminated from supply chains by utilizing the Cargo Carousel System. It will require input from many different players, but among its ranks, this new enterprise presents an opportunity  to showcase gender equality, inclusion and a selfless mindset as we move to develop multiple supply chains and demonstrate these capabilities on the world stage. This system is easily scaled across sectors and geographies and we are verifying its capabilities with several entities involved in banana production in Central and South America that supply bananas to North American and European retailers.

If we want to correct the historical misgivings of humanity, be it social, economic or environmental, we need to radically alter our thinking to develop completely new solutions that will sustain us well into the future. We believe the Cargo Carousel System is one of those solutions. Developing a platform for collaboration on the leading-edge technologies as they apply to supply chains and creating the team to make that happen has been the focus of this project with the development of a sustainable, long-term solution being the ultimate end goal. Collective action offers better results.

This is an opportune time to capitalize on our developments to date and Toyota is waiting to further prototype development so we need to finalize our financing requirements and get this project under way. Please feel free to contact us.