IFCO Sustainability, at the heart of our business practices

IFCO is a world leader in Reusable Plastic Containers (RPCs) that offer multiple cost and environmental benefits. Our commitment to sustainability reaches way beyond our RPCs. Our mission is to run an efficient and profitable company – without compromising our responsibilities to the environment, the people and the communities we deal with. We place this vision at the center of our business practices.

At IFCO, we see sustainability as a concept that encompasses everything we do. Profitability and moral responsibility do not have to be mutually exclusive – and we intend to be a leading light in proving this and showing how it can be achieved.

A pioneer in sustainability

IFCO was the world’s first company to pioneer reusable plastic containers back in the early 90s – and we continue to innovate today. The IFCO SmartCycle™ ensures green practices ranging from energy savings to waste reduction and from water recycling in our wash centers to making new crates from old ones. Sustainability is important to us all. Let’s protect the things that matter!

Our sustainability approach – the three Es

Our approach to sustainability is based on three pillars


Protecting natural resources by reducing waste, emissions and water use, while helping customers work more greenly


Enabling our staff to adopt green practices in a safe workspace and support the communities they live and work in


Making a tangible contribution to the communities we work in by donating money and thousands of RPCs to food banks and other charities

Protecting the environment

IFCO RPCs and the SmartCycle™ form the foundation of a circular economy that benefits everyone – from producers and retailers to consumers and the natural environment. The SmartCycle™ is a sophisticated logistics process that IFCO uses to manage the whole supply chain.

Pooled RPCs are inherently sustainable because they allow for the sharing and reusing of equipment. Therefore, our RPCs use fewer natural resources than single-use packaging, protecting the environment. They are maintained for consistently high performance throughout their lifetimes and last for 100 cycles on average. However, if they do break, they are either repaired or granulated and made into new RPCs, ensuring that less plastic ends up in our oceans and the natural environment.

Compared with single-use packaging, IFCO RPCs produce up to 60% less CO2 emissions and 86% less solid waste, while using 64% less energy and 80% less water. They also reduce product damage by over 96%, drastically cutting down on food waste.

Reducing food waste

IFCO RPCs deliver a dramatic reduction in food waste – there is 96% less damage to fresh produce packed in a plastic crate compared to single-use packaging. That is good for producers and retailers as well as the environment!

Also, fresh foods transported in IFCO RPCs stay fresher for up to four days longer, according to a recent study conducted for IFCO by Dr. Lippert Quality Management. The optimized ventilation and robust design of our RPCs contribute to a longer shelf life of fresh foods.

Sustainable benefits for everyone, IFCO’s Sustainability Certificate for retailers and producers

To encourage our customers to follow suit with our sustainable practices, IFCO introduced its annual sustainability certificate. We calculate energy and resource savings for each customer and send them a certificate highlighting the amount of CO2, water, energy, solid waste and food waste they have saved by utilizing IFCO RPCs in their supply chain.

This way, IFCO also contributes to a greener image of retailers and producers. Supermarkets and producers alike have been reducing waste over the past years to appease public concerns and to be consistent with new European regulation. By using our RPCs, retailers not only profit from all the benefits mentioned above, they also turn grocery shopping into a sustainable and conscious experience for consumers.

Our Zero Harm program

IFCO is part of a continuous improvement program that aims to achieve Zero Harm in all our business areas: environment, people, company.

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Employees – Sustainability starts with ourselves

What better way to radiate our eco-credentials in the world than with our own people? All of our employees are trained in sustainable business practices. For example, you won’t see any disposable cups, cutlery or single-use plastic bottles in our offices. And we work hard to avoid long-distance business trips as well as unnecessary printing.

We look after our people too – with further education, training and individual development plans.

We adhere to the highest global standards in workforce safety and supplier diversity, with flexible local execution. IFCO is committed to diversity throughout its global network of subsidiaries. We believe that an engaging, safe, tolerant and diverse workplace brings out the best in our people and makes an additional contribution to sustainability, as well as to IFCO as a well-managed business.

Social engagement: from donations to employee volunteering

We know that a better supply chain serves us all. Not just IFCO and its customers, but the communities we operate in too. That’s why we have always been involved in social and charitable initiatives.

IFCO has donated over 300.000 RPCs to food banks around the world over the last ten years. We also co-finance refrigerated vans to help these organizations ensure the food they distribute stays fresh. IFCO subsidiaries often make financial donations to local charities and humanitarian organizations providing food to people in need.

Our engagement goes beyond donations of money and RPCs – we give our time too. Each of our employees is given three paid days a year that they use to volunteer in local organizations such as food banks, collecting or distributing fresh and packaged food.