Packaging and Process Improvements: Three Source Reduction Case Studies
This is the second of a two-part article (part one appears in J. Environmental Systems, Vol. 20(4), pp. 343-357, 1990-91) documenting five case studies of successful solid waste source reduction programs. The substitution of washable dishware and cloth diapers for single-use equivalents was investigated in the first article. This article includes the following three case studies: 1) bulk merchandising at a cooperative grocery, 2) process improvements and packaging reduction at a furniture manufacturer, and 3) a department store chain's use of shredded waste paper as a packing material. Two bulk items studied at the grocery generate less packaging waste than their packaged equivalents if customer-provided containers for bulk purchases are used at least twice. Total labor, space and disposal costs to the store are the same or lower for the two bulk products. Process improvements and packaging reduction achieved through reuse and redesign lower both costs and solid waste production in furniture manufacture and distribution. At the department stores, shredding paper for use as a packing material cuts costs 57 percent and lowers solid waste generation by 99 percent compared to the previous system.