California Department of Resources Recycling and Recovery (CalRecycle)

Packaging Waste Reduction

Case Studies from the Indiana Institute on Recycling

The Indiana Institute on Recycling, a state agency, was created in 1989 by the General Assembly and is located at Indiana State University, in Terre Haute. The Institute develops concepts, methods, and procedures for assisting Indiana residents in reducing and recycling solid waste.

The following list related to shipping and distribution is from their online catalog of case studies.  To see the entire list, visit their Web site at

  • Closure, Reuse--Chrysler recovers plastic closures installed on incoming auto components, returns them to vendors for reuse, saves $130,000 a year. 9634.
  • Corrugated Cardboard--By adopting nine standard sizes of corrugated cardboard boxes, Xerox saves between $2 million and $5 million a year. 9607.
  • Corrugated Cardboard, Reuse--Schumacher Electric Corp. saves $60,000 a year by converting incoming cartons into outbound packing materials. 9503.
  • Drugs, Bulk Packaging--Through progressive reductions in bulk packaging of insulin, Eli Lilly cuts consumption of expendable materials and distribution costs. 9710.
  • Drums, Reuse--Madison Chemical Co. recovers and reconditions steel drums from customers, saves $19,000 a year. 9633.
  • Dunnage, Plastic--Expendable plastic dunnage is cleaned, sorted, and repackaged for reuse by a sheltered workshop, reducing Chrysler's landfill expense and creating new jobs. 9634.
  • Electronics Parts, Packaging--While sales increase 25 percent, Rockwell-Collins Avionics & Communications cuts solid waste disposal by more than 50 percent. 9714.
  • Furniture, Shipping--American Seating audits its packaging/shipping operations and finds a variety of savings amounting to $106,000 saved per year. 9716.
  • Furniture, Shipping--Ethan Allen replaces corrugated boxes with film bags and small corrugated components, saving $1.15 million. 9623.
  • Glass Food Jars, Outer Carton Eliminated--Gerber reduces package material weight 60 percent by shrink-bundling baby food jars, eliminating cardboard carton. 9616.
  • Glass Plate, Bulk Shipment--Alpine Windows eliminates crating used to ship plate glass, reaps annual saving of $230,000 in crate expense, $35,000 in labor. 9606.
  • Glass Shelves, Bulk Shipment--Reusable steel frames replace wooden frames, cardboard for shipping to GE assembly plant. Total annual savings, $50,000. 9636.
  • Liquids, Bulk Containers--Madison Chemical replaces 55-gallon drums with 350-gallon bulk containers, reducing costs $19,000 a year. 9633.
  • Loosefill Cushioning, Water Soluble--Replacing foam-in-place urethane with a moldable, water-degradable cushioning system, Mosler saves $27,000 a year. 9625.
  • Office Furniture--An audit of packaging operations at American Seating reveals opportunities to save $106,000 a year in materials expense. 9716.
  • Office Furniture, Logistical Shipping--Sleeve-pack wrapper for inter-factory shipment cuts Herman Miller's packaging 70 percent; reusable 100 times. 9627.
  • Office Furniture, Logistical Shipping--By requiring 10 parts of office chair to be shipped in returnable packaging, Herman Miller saves $70,000. 9628.
  • Orchard Crates--Prima Frutta replaces wooden crates with plastic (HDPE) bins, reducing crate costs, damage to apples; increasing warehouse capacity. 9648.
  • Packaging, Cushioning--Incoming corrugated cardboard boxes (OCC) are converted into packaging filler for outgoing freight, saving the company $12,000 a year in polystyrene peanuts and OCC disposal costs. 9608.
  • Packaging, Cushioning--Redesigned cushioning for a computer printer reduces IBM's cost for this function by 70 percent. 9611.
  • Packaging, Cushioning, In-House Manufacture From Scrap--At Modine Midwest, company creates packaging from scrap office paper; cuts costs 30 percent, reduces damage claims 75 percent. 9502.
  • Packaging, Cushioning, Molded Recycled Newspring--Black & Decker replaces inner cushion of expanded polystyrene with cushion made of 100 percent recycled newsprint, cutting costs 10 percent to 15 percent. 9612.
  • Palletization, Load Banding--Rubber pallet bands replace shrink wrap for securing loads in warehouse operations, saving company $49,706 in labor, materials. 9701.
  • Pallets, Plastic--Pepsi eliminates 150 tons of wood pallet waste by converting to plastic pallets for in-plant use. 9618.
  • Pallets, Plastic--American National Can adopts plastic pallets for external, closed-loop deliveries to a major customer, reducing cost, and disposal volume. 9620.
  • Pallets, Standardization--Nachi Technology, Inc., maker of ball bearings, reduces pallet, box, and foam plastic costs by $25,600 a year by persuading customers to adopt standard-dimension logistical shipping materials. 9621.
  • Pallets, Standardization--By setting standards for pallets and "flipping" incoming pallets--using them for outbound freight--Cummins Engine eliminates most of this variable packaging cost. 9603.
  • Pallets, Standardization--Carrier Corp. adopts GMA standards, reuses 375 tons of pallets, saves $25,000 disposal expense. 9702.
  • Pallets, Wooden, Value-added Reuse--Bronx company makes flooring, furniture from old pallets, saves local companies $2 million in disposal fees. 9619.
  • Pallets, Wooden, Replaced By Slip Sheets--Home Depot converts suppliers from wooden pallets to plastic slip sheets, eliminates 1.8 million pallets, saves $660,000. 9709.
  • Partitions, Shipping Case--By replacing a 5-piece case partition with a lighter weight, one-piece unit, Jefferson Smurfit reduces material usage 20 percent, increases stacking strength. 9604
  • Reusable Containers--United Technologies eliminates 180 tons of corrugated cartons, reduces costs $1 million in switch to reusable containers. 9622.
  • Reusable Containers--Ford develops reusable plastic tray to ship fuel injector gaskets, eliminates 67.5 tons of cardboard, saves $150,000 per year. 9639.
  • Reusable Containers--Cook, Inc., ships parts for medical instruments from vendors to assemblers to warehouse in plastic tubs, reducing carton costs $6,500. 9712.
  • Reusable Containers--3M-Taiwan replaces PVC blister trays with die-cut piece of corrugated cardboard for shipment of modem parts, cutting cost 86.3 percent. 9713.
  • Wall Panels, Modular--Artec Mfg. cuts material cost 20 percent, labor cost 30 percent by replacing a total-surround corrugated box with end-caps only and stretch film. 9615.
Last updated: January 01, 1998
Packaging Waste Reduction,
Business Assistance