ICC Calls for Global Guidance on Return-Refill Container Systems

ICC Calls for Global Guidance on Return-Refill Container Systems

Shipping goods across borders with reusable containers and tracking systems is better for the environment, consumers and companies yet differential treatment by customs authorities can be detrimental for business.

The volume of goods shipped globally has reached impressive proportions in recent decades. Goods moved annually by ship alone weigh more than 10 billion tonnes, or 15 times the weight of all cows on Earth.

The estimated value of global trade has increased tenfold since 1979 to more than US$16 trillion, a figure close to the GDP of the world’s biggest economy.

Moreover,the rise of global value chains and the worldwide e-commerce boom have meant that companies increasingly export goods in small consignments as opposed to standard shipping containers.

With so many goods crisscrossing the globe, the kind of packaging and container systems that companies use to ship their products has a significant impact on both their bottom lines and on the environment.

In this context, an increasing number of companies have been using ‘return-refill’ packaging and container systems, where containers are shipped back to the exporter empty after delivery and reused.

Beyond its obvious positive implications for sustainable shipping, sending their goods in containers that are returned to them allow companies to use tracking and tracing systems that improve quality control, security and logistics management.

These tracing devices, integrated in different kinds of packaging, can track location, humidity, light, temperature, pressure and shock during carriage—capabilities that are crucial for transporting sensitive products such as life-saving medical devices and treatments.

One ICC member works with a number of small- and medium-sized Central American companies (SMEs) that export to other countries in the region using road transportation. The products, mostly fruits and vegetables, are shipped in plastic containers, which are then returned empty to warehouses in their home country.

Customs would consider the empty box merchandise, though, and accordingly ask the companies to pay import duties on it.

Source : Marinelink