Contact Us
TK Truck Cover

Thermo King North America saves 2,000 tons of solid waste to landfills annually and cuts transportation logistics spend by 43% with Reusability’s Reusable Cold Chain Packaging Program

Thermoking Logo

Program Background

Thermo King, by Trane Technologies, a global climate innovator, is the leader in intelligent end-to-end temperature-controlled cold chain solutions. Recognized for delivering innovative solutions, Thermo King’s commitment to sustainability extends to the environmental impact of its operations, products and services, and people.

An industry leader in its commitment to sustainability, Thermo King and its parent company announced its Gigaton Challenge, which they committed to reduce their customer carbon footprint by one gigaton of CO2 by 2030. To align with this significant goal, Thermo King changed its packaging to be returned and reused for two full product lines: auxiliary power units and diesel-powered truck lines and will launch for public transportation bus lines in 2021.

Thermo King North America partnered with Reusability in 2018 to recover
the reusable cold chain packaging delivered to Dealers and OEMs.

Industry: HVAC, Auto & Truck Parts
Location: United States
Services: Reusable Packaging Management
Thermo King Crates

The Problem

Prior to creating reusable steel and plastic packaging, Thermo King relied on packaging constructed from disposable wood. This led to specific problems, including:

  • Safety Issues: Internal team members were responsible for constructing a crate which required using nail guns, manipulating wood, and working with potentially dangerous materials both at Thermo King facilities and customer facilities.

  • Product Damage: Common to all disposable packaging solutions, low durability caused frequent damages to products. With a product that is costly to make, this was a substantial risk for Thermo King.
  • Labor Costs: Prior to shifting to reusable packaging, solutions required line personnel to construct, which was labor intensive for Thermo King and its staff. That same labor cost was a burden to customers to uncrate the product.

  • Customer Costs: Disposable packaging solutions had to be landfilled by dealers and OEMs. While this was environmentally unfriendly, disposal fees also cost dealers and OEMs money.

  • Transportation Costs: Disposable packaging required more frequent trips and transportation. Not only did this increase costs for Thermo King, but also the amount of CO2 emitted into the environment.

The Goal

Once Thermo King designed their reusable packaging, they turned to Reusability to further assist in achieving goals related to their 2030 Commitment to sustainability. These include:

  • Achieve carbon-neutral operations
  • Deliver zero waste to landfills
  • Become net positive in water use
  • Achieve 10% absolute reduction in energy consumption

The Solution

Thermo King recognized the waste that was being created with its old packaging products and began working with their packaging suppliers, Advanta, Packaging Solutions and PackIQ to build a business case to support their investment for a new sustainable solution.

In need of a reusable packaging management and recovery partner, they found Reusability and were drawn to our experience in managing and recovering assets. The synergies between Reusability’s expertise in other industries and the goals Thermo King was looking to achieve ultimately led to us being selected as Thermo King’s partner.

Steel Crates, Flexible Sleeves with Footers, and Reusable Pallets are currently used for three different Thermo King products at two different plants. Once items come off the line they are loaded directly into reusable packaging for transport to Dealers and OEMs. Once installed at Dealers and OEMs, Reusability reaches out, schedules a pickup and brings the packaging back to a Reusability-owned facility where it is inspected and made ready for the line. Reusability runs a daily shuttle from our facility to the Thermo King factory to provide adequate reusable packaging.

This success implementing reusable packaging has caused Thermo King to evaluate their supply base and focus on more opportunities around returnable packaging even outside their finished goods.

The Results

Thermo King North America has seen quantifiable savings annually. They have reduced transportation logistics and packaging spend by 43% for finished goods that use reusable packaging, and eliminated 2,000 tons of solid waste from disposable packaging each year.

Other business benefits that are not quantified but important to note:

  • Customer Cost Reduction & Time Savings: While Thermo King has seen savings from reusable packaging, their dealer partners no longer have to incur disposal fees associated with landfilling wood packaging. Also, dealers do not have to tear down packaging for collection, which equates to significant time savings.
  • Product Protection: As mentioned previously, common to all disposable packaging solutions, low durability can cause frequent damages to the products. Moving to reusable packaging has made this less of an issue for Thermo King.
  • Improved Warehouse Operations: Reusable packaging is less labor-intensive and doesn't require line personnel to build the packaging. This saves on costs and time. In addition, reusable packaging is loaded direct to the trucks, so Thermo King no longer has to store crating materials in their warehouses.
  • Transportation Cost Reductions: Since Reusability handles processing and pick up, Thermo King has saved on logistics costs.
  • Improved Transportation Utilization: The shape of the reusable packaging has allowed Thermo King to better utilize trucks, as units can be stacked.
  • Worker Safety Enhancements: Both Thermo King and their customers have minimized risk. Internal team members and dealers are no longer using nail guns, tearing down wood, or working with potentially dangerous materials, both at Thermo King facilities and customer facilities.


Reusability has been a terrific partner. We trust their expertise and experience to ensure we are leveraging best practices related to recovering our reusable packaging. They are helping us achieve both savings and sustainability goals, making my job a lot easier!

Barbara Ledbury
Global Logistics Packaging Engineer

Want to see how much you'll save with a reusable packaging program? Get in touch below!