Sustainable logistics solutions: trans-o-flex customers save 50% CO2 emissions with returnable containers

  • Expressdienst launches returnable pool for all consignors, thereby expanding its individual customer solutions
  • CEO Albeck: Success factors are transparent control, smart return logistics, user-based billing and an all-round carefree package that relieves the burden on customers and consignees alike.

Starting this month, trans-o-flex’s Expressdienst is offering all customers returnable containers to replace disposable cardboard boxes in shipping and save more than 50% of climate-damaging carbon dioxide emissions (CO2) in the process. The service is marketed under the banner tof.ecobox. "Several years of development work as well as the establishment and further development of special returnable container pools for individual customers have gone into our current solution," says trans-o-flex CEO Wolfgang P. Albeck. "In the process, we identified six critical factors on which the success of such a system depends."

According to Albeck, numerous attempts to set up returnable container pools have failed over the past 15 years, mainly due to a lack of transparency in container logistics and inefficient return logistics. "We have therefore integrated the transport container itself into our consignment tracking so that we know where which container is at all times. This is not only the prerequisite for smart and cost-effective return, but also the basis for user-based billing." Empty containers are taken away by trans-o-flex drivers as soon as they deliver a new consignment. To ensure that the pick-up process is also precisely documented, the driver is guided through the pick-up process via their hand-held scanner. The number and size of the containers collected are recorded and signed for.

In addition to transparent control, smart return logistics and user-based billing, trans-o-flex believes that three other factors determine the success or failure of a returnable container pool in distribution logistics. "Firstly, there is the design of the containers themselves; secondly, the type of service the customer receives; and thirdly, the proven environmental friendliness, which is becoming increasingly important for both customers and consignees," says Albeck. The design of the containers was developed together with the pool operator Smart Container Loop (SCL). SCL is part of the Schoeller Group, a shareholder of trans-o-flex, and has decades of experience in developing returnable containers and operating container pools. Schoeller is, among other things, the inventor and founder of IFCO Systems, the largest reusable container pool in the world and the global market leader for reusable containers in the food sector. "A rectangular and a conical shaped container have been developed to cater to different customer needs in terms of packaging sizes and safety requirements. The rectangular containers can be collapsed, and the conical containers can be stacked inside each other to minimise the space required for transporting the containers empty. "Consignors only have to say which types of containers they need and how many," says Albeck explaining the service concept. "You then get the quantity you want delivered, and trans-o-flex, together with Smart Container Loop, takes care of the rest." Customers do not have to worry about the return and cleaning, or the disposal of cardboard boxes.

To assess the environmental friendliness, SCL examined the total CO2 impact generated from the production of the containers to the transport to the consignor through to the collection, cleaning and, if necessary, repair or recycling and compared it with the impact of disposable cardboard packaging. The end-to-end study (cradle to grave) revealed that when sending 1,000 parcels with disposable cardboard packaging, the environment is burdened with emissions of 264 kilos of CO2e (CO2 equivalents*) for the packaging alone. If SCL’s returnable system is used, the same shipping quantity for the packaging generates 131 kilos of CO2e – less than half. The durability of the reusable containers was calculated at 50 cycles, which is clearly exceeded in practice according to SCL’s experience.

*Compared to pure carbon dioxide emissions (CO2), CO2e is the more comprehensive indicator. It makes it possible to measure and compare the overall effect of a process on climate warming. Different substances are taken into account. For example, the greenhouse effect of methane emissions is also recorded and converted so that it corresponds to the value of the mass of carbon dioxide that causes the same climate warming. The standard metric is then CO2e.

Über die trans-o-flex Express GmbH

trans-o-flex’s core areas of expertise are logistics solutions for the pharmaceutical, cosmetics and consumer electronics industries and other high-end, sensitive goods. The company has built up transport networks to carry goods at 15 to 25 degrees Celsius or 2 to 8 degrees Celsius actively temperature-controlled and documented in accordance with EU regulations for pharmaceuticals transport throughout Germany and Austria. These EU-GDPs require the highest standards for safety and security, cleanliness, reliability and transparency, from which all trans-o-flex customers benefit. trans-o-flex operates internationally via the networks EUROTEMP (temperature-controlled logistics) and EURODIS (in 36 European countries). In contrast to parcel and groupage services, trans-o-flex delivers parcels and pallets on a consolidated basis. trans-o-flex Express offers numerous express and time-slot deliveries, special services such as hazardous goods transportation (without minimum quantity regulation), consignment consolidation or direct deliveries. The range of services is complemented by warehousing, order picking and individual value-added services such as serialisation and deserialisation of pharmaceuticals. This means that the company covers the entire logistics chain from procurement through to fulfilment. The annual turnover of the trans-o-flex companies, which employ a total of around 1,954 people (FTE, end of 2020), amounted to around 515 million euros in 2020. More information is available at

Firmenkontakt und Herausgeber der Meldung:

trans-o-flex Express GmbH
Hertzstraße 10
69469 Weinheim
Telefon: +49 (6201) 988-0
Telefax: +49 (6201) 988-980

Sabine Kolaric
Leiterin Unternehmenskommunikation
Telefon: +49 (6201) 988-134
Fax: +49 (6201) 988-343
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