U.S. Environmental Protection Agency +
Packaging Reduction for Shippers
A Glance at Clean Freight Strategies
Walmart ;!c
Save money. Live better.
The major retailer Wal-Mart
realized big benefits when it
took another look at product
packaging. The manufacturer
of its private label wine bottle
reduced the amount of glass
used in the bottle by
reconfiguring the design.
A few simple changes:
Reduced packaging
weight by 8 million
Reduced CO2 by about
3,400 tons
Took 280 trucks off
the road
Big benefits
from packaging
With all these changes, the
retailer was also able to
reduce the price of the wine
by 20 cents per bottle.1
Packages are defined as delivery parcels (envelopes or boxes) used by carriers or product
containers (boxes, cases or pallets) used by shippers. Packaging strategies, such as
lightweighting and reconfiguration, can reduce package weight or increase the product-to-
package ratio, resulting in more products per truck and fewer miles driven system-wide.
Companies committed to sustainability recognize that minimizing packaging is a crucial part
of their efforts, yet they want to understand how to balance the costs of using renewable
materials, more recycled content, or less material overall2 with the logistics benefits of smaller,
denser, less frequent or fuller loads.
As a shipper, one way to offset investments in packaging reduction is to consider the positive
impact it can have on your supply chain. There are benefits to reducing packaging weight and
space: the more products you load into each container, the fewer trucks you'll need, which
reduces logistics costs and the carbon footprint of your supply chain.
Packaging can be made more sustainable by applying the principles of product stewardship.3
One exampLe is Intermediate BuLk Containers (totes for buLk fluids known as IBCs), which
are cube-shaped and fit on a standard paLLet, providing for a more efficient use of space.
By replacing standard cylindrical, drums with 315-gaLLon collapsible, reusabLe IBCs, you can
transport up to 2.4 times as much material, per truckLoad, assuming vehicle weight Limits
are not reached. In this way 24 truckLoads could be reduced to as few as ten.4
Other strategies include:
Use less material.: Material reduction will decrease cargo weight and may also allow for
denser product packing, using available space more efficiently. Steps to eliminate unnecessary
packaging can include:
Reducing or eliminating the use of pallets
Using polywrap or shrinkwrap to reduce packaging size
Packaging items in bags instead of boxes
Reducing the thickness of packaging walls, increasing rigidity by using stronger, but
lighter materials or changing shapes
Redesigning packaging and even the products to fit more items into one package
Eliminating unnecessary tertiary packaging and layers such as bags within bags
ELiminate shipping unnecessary items: Make product documentation available electronically
and ask consumers to "opt-in" for additional items, such as cables or power cords, because
they may not need them.
EPA-420-F-19-015 | March 2019 | SmartWay Transport Partnership | epa.gov/smartway	(continued)

Packaging Reduction for Shippers: A Glance at Clean Freight Strategies (continued)
The costs associated with packaging design include
researching new materials, redesigning the size and shape
of packaging, modifying packaging and handling equipment,
if necessary, and prototype/field testing of new designs and
materials. These costs will vary depending on the scope of
your business and can be significant.
Packaging reduction can lower your carbon footprint due
to incremental savings accrued through lighter loads and/
or higher product-to-package ratios which reduce the
total number of trucks required to ship the same amount
of product. Additionally, reducing packaging can also help
increase customer satisfaction. Excessive packaging is a
common customer complaint.5 Following are three case
studies that illustrate the benefits of reducing packaging:
Use less packaging material.: In 2009, Fetzer Vineyards, one
of the country's largest wineries reduced the weight of its
bottles from 20.3 oz. to 17 oz. on average without reducing
product volume. The new bottles are made from 35 percent
post-consumer recycled glass and reduce glass usage by 16
percent. The change reduced supply chain GHG emissions
associated with glass bottles by 14 percent.6
Hewlett-Packard, a multinational information technology
corporation reduced the volume of packaging for its laptops
resulting in 97 percent less material used. This enabled the
company to fit three laptops per box to ship to stores
instead of one. As a result the amount of product that
could fit on each pallet increased 31 percent.7
Higher product-to-package ratios: The global retailer
IKEA reduced the amount of airand unused space in its
packaging for tea candles and increased the number of
100-pack candles that can fit on a standard pallet by more
than 40 percent. The result was fewer truck trips, which
yielded a 21 percent carbon reduction. The new packaging
also increased efficiency by allowing for faster unpacking
in stores.8
ELiminate unnecessary items: The major electronics
manufacturer Cisco eliminated paper documentation and
user guides from its product packaging for a telephone.
This change allowed three units to fit into the shipping
space previously occupied by two, saving $ 1.3 million
and 954,000 pounds of freight shipped annually.9
in packaging
reduction savings
Conduct a packaging audit. Work with your suppliers and manufacturers to reduce product packaging
size and weight, fit more products into current packaging, change the product shape itself for more
efficient shipping, and avoid using higher-rated packaging than is necessary to protect your products.
Work with carriers and others in the supply chain to determine the most efficient loading configurations
for their vehicles.
Educate customers about how to handle weight and space-saving packaging such as intermediate bulk
containers. Explain the financial benefits of this packaging such as the avoidance of disposal costs and
reduced storage requirements.

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