Procter & Gamble and dm Want to Avoid Waste with Smart-Box
9/26/2023 Sustainability New Paths Design Start-ups Article

Procter & Gamble and dm Want to Avoid Waste with Smart-Box

The GS1 Smart-Box is an innovative, standardized, and reusable transport box developed jointly by industry, retail and GS1 Germany. The goal is a common standard for the sustainable supply chain between production and central retail warehouses.

The GS1 Smart-Box is in use on the Gillette and Gillette Venus brands. The GS1 Smart-Box is in use on for the Gillette and Gillette Venus brands.

Drugstore giant dm and consumer goods manufacturer P&G continue to drive the issue of reusable packaging in the supply chain. At last week’s ECR Day, representatives of the two companies promoted the “Smart-Box” reusable system to new users in the industry.

Much of the packaging waste in the industry is generated as early as in the supply chain. “This is waste that we are responsible for,” says Lena Sellmann, Senior Director Sustainability Acceleration at Procter&Gamble International (P&G). With this appeal, the manager solicited new comrades-in-arms for the “Smart-Box” reusable system running under the GS1 organization at the ECR Day in Frankfurt am Main. It is intended to make the exchange of products between industry and retail more sustainable.

High Stability of Smart-Boxes

ann used the example of Gillette to demonstrate the potential of the solution in terms of efficiency: In one year, P&G was able to save more than 50 tons of disposable cardboard packaging in transport from the factory to retail distribution centers. So far, the manufacturer has only used the Smart-Box for 32 items from the Gillette range. Currently, “advanced discussions” are underway about its use in other categories such as diapers and mouthwash, the company says.

In the second step, P&G is now trying to save up to 30 percent of material in secondary packaging. “The higher stability of the Smart-Box compared to a carton or tray on a pallet enabled material savings in both primary and secondary packaging,” Sellmann said. For hair care products, for example, a lower plastic density in the bottles could suffice, resulting in lighter products and less material use. The stackability of the boxes also ensures lower CO₂ emissions, so that even with sensitive products, the pallets can be placed on top of each other in the trucks and their height can be better utilized.

High Efficiency in Reception of Goods

The relevance of the reusable box from the retailer’s point of view was underlined by Dagmar Glatz from dm. “All our dm brand manufacturers should consider and examine the use of the box for all their processes,” appealed the product manager for sustainability and packaging. Usage is not just limited to the delivery in the trade. For retailers, for example, the box results in efficiencies in the reception of goods, as the boxes can be processed directly and no longer have to be unpacked. At dm, the Smart-Box is in circulation in German and Austrian distribution centers. However, the distribution was expandable, the company said. “We have a functioning, standardized solution, but with a good 100000 units we are still a long way from our target of one million boxes. We can only achieve that with more users in retail and industry,” Sellmann said.

The Smart-Box has been circulating since 2021 and currently transports goods from FMCG manufacturers P&G, Henkel, Unilever, Kao, Emcur and Pattberg to retailers’ central warehouses. On the retailer side, dm, Rossmann, Edeka, and Müller are currently participating in the pilot project for drugstore goods. At Rewe, tests are underway with the reusable system in supermarkets.