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Chemistry, Materials & Packaging
How Buckhorn's Reusable Packaging Is Cleaning Up Supply Chains

Ohio-based Buckhorn manufactures different types of heavy-duty, reusable plastic packaging for the food processing, automotive, manufacturing, distribution, bakery and agriculture industries, with a focus on improving companies’ supply chain performance by reducing product waste and material handling costs.

The company is also dedicated to keeping its own impacts in check by buying back end-of-life containers for recycling; the company then incorporates ground-up recycled materials, called ‘regrind,’ into the next generation of containers.

We spoke with president Ken Kozicki to learn more about Buckhorn’s commitment to eliminating waste throughout its value chain.

Proper food storage is critical for preventing food waste. How do Buckhorn's Caliber and Intrepid containers help prevent loss? What differentiates them from other products on the market?

One of the major challenges for food storage is to keep the food safe and intact. We have seen a lot of food contamination and loss caused by disposable packaging failure. For example, corrugated Gaylords, wood boxes and wood pallets all absorb oils and moisture. This contamination causes them to degrade easily and increases the frequency of purchase and disposal cycles. Buckhorn’s Intermediate Bulk Containers (IBCs) have completely smooth surfaces that satisfy strict hygienic standards. Our containers are designed to withstand the toughest demands, including filling under pressure, long-term outdoor storage, rail transport and hot-fill applications. Whether stored or in a warehouse setting, our IBCs have continuously proven to help protect the integrity of food products and prevent food waste.

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Buckhorn’s recycling program encourages and helps our customers put sustainability into practice. We make it simple to recycle by purchasing back the plastic containers from our customers and, in turn, providing a credit that may be used toward future purchases. We introduce the regrind into products in a controlled and measured manner, to not compromise our highest standards of quality. Through our recycling program, we partner with our customers to increase the value of reusable packaging.

Buckhorn currently uses 21 percent recycled content in its products. Is this largely sourced from the company's recycling program? Are there plans to increase this in the future?

Yes, our recycling program directly supports the use of recycled content in our products. Buckhorn continually looks at alternative material options to reduce costs of products for our customer base. Any material or increased regrind consumption is put through a testing protocol before being launched in the marketplace.

Buckhorn has been producing reusable packaging for a long time. As more businesses begin shifting towards circular models, how do you plan to maintain a competitive advantage?

Your packaging is certified to ISO 14001 standards. How does this influence decision-making, product development and manufacturing?

ISO 14001 is a systematic approach to our Environmental Management System. As the framework used to document and maintain compliance with local, state and federal environmental regulations, it triggers a review of all items brought into the plant and used to manufacture Buckhorn reusable packaging products. We also apply these principles to our vendors and any subcontractors who provide on-site services. Supply chain decisions are influenced by the capability to cooperate with these principles. This proactive and all-inclusive method establishes more controls and includes the development and implementation of comprehensive contingency plans.

Our ISO certification is just one way we communicate to our customers that quality and sustainability are at the forefront of our relationship with them. Manufacturing products of the highest quality for our customers must take place in an environment dedicated to standards of operational excellence, which are brought to fruition through the clear processes established in our ISO Quality Management System. The new product development process is an essential component of it to guarantee Buckhorn’s innovative designs continue our mission of providing sustainable packaging solutions of the utmost quality.

What are some of Buckhorn’s sustainability goals? How are you using these goals to drive innovation and reduce impacts?

We value sustainability and believe it goes hand-in-hand with reusable packaging. Our goals are anchored in providing sustainable packaging solutions that ensure food safety, enable employee safety and serve as the catalyst for customers achieving their own sustainability goals. We help customers minimize risk of food contamination by complying with FDA requirements on packaging materials and components. We optimize the user experience by constantly interacting with workers who handle the containers. Through listening to their feedback and prioritizing their safety, we create products that enhance employee safety. When the product eventually reaches the end of its life, we encourage customers to reduce waste by recycling to make new containers. We work hard to align our sustainability goals with those of our customers to make our packaging solution a critical part of their overall sustainability plan. In turn, we are actively pursuing further expansion of our own sustainability initiatives as we continue to foster more self-awareness at all levels of our business.


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