Multi-Million Dollar Reusable Packaging Theft Operation Taken Down in Chicago Thanks to Discrete Tracking Technologies

In 2021, a major plastic container theft sting was executed in Cook County, Illinois. It resulted in the discovery of an illegal plastic regrind operation which was grinding reusable containers and trays stolen by a network of more than 30 vehicles and dozens of individuals. The regrind and intact containers discovered at the operation are valued in the hundreds of thousands of dollars. The successful sting operation was an integrated effort driven by IFCO SYSTEMS, the global leader of reusable packaging containers (RPCs), and involved two national retailers, a private detective agency, and the Cook County Sherriff’s office. Advanced tracking devices subtly affixed to IFCO containers enabled the group to pinpoint the time and place of thefts, and ultimately, the illegal regrind location, leading to arrests.

Sustainable and economic benefits of reusables undermined by theft

IFCO Systems, the leading global provider of RPCs for the distribution of perishable products, pools, shares, and reuses their digitally enhanced crates with producers for the shipment of fruits, vegetables, eggs, and other fresh products to retailers. Once the containers are emptied, they are accumulated for return to IFCO. They are then sanitized at an IFCO service center and reissued to other growers again and again. RPCs provide important benefits compared to disposable containers. They offer superior product protection and ventilation to help keep products fresh in addition to providing other positive outcomes such as ease of material handling and better load utilization in trailers. These innovative crates are also great for the planet by creating substantial environmental savings. They reduce CO2 emissions by up to 60%, cut solid waste by 86%, use 64% less water, and 80% less energy.

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