Better Packaging, Bigger Benefits

  • Employees wrap office furniture in blankets as one element of a green shipping method used by Perkins Specialized Transportation to cut carbon emissions. (Photo courtesy of Perkins)

Companies are looking at new ways to
use less packaging and save fuel. It’s all
considered “carbon reduction,” but it comes
down to saving money. Lester Graham reports
on a couple of companies finding some success:

Transcript

Companies are looking at new ways to
use less packaging and save fuel. It’s all
considered “carbon reduction,” but it comes
down to saving money. Lester Graham reports
on a couple of companies finding some success:

Many environmentalists love to hate Wal-Mart. But, in recent years, Wal-Mart has been
encouraging its suppliers to find ways to reduce environmental impacts.

Now, that’s important because Wal-Mart is huge. As its suppliers go green, it’s having a
ripple effect on the suppliers’ suppliers and all their competitors.

So here’s what happens. Companies that come up with ways to reduce environmental
impacts are rewarded. Wal-Mart gives them more store shelf space and promotions.

Rand Waddoups is with Wal-Mart. He says electronics company Hewlitt-Packard took
the challenge to a whole new level.

“They came back with this idea to completely remove the packaging from the laptops that they’re selling us, and instead have a messenger bag that we give the customers to take home with them. In addition to that, it’s Energy Star product, it’s Ross compliant – which is reduction of hazardous substances. It just ended up being a really great laptop.”

It’s not just Wal-Mart and its suppliers that are trying to reduce packaging.

Other manufacturers and shippers are finding ways to get rid of all the cardboard and
styrofoam and plastic wrapping.

The office furniture company Haworth worked with the shipper Perkins Specialized
Transportation. Instead of boxing up chairs and desks with cardboard and styrofoam,
the companies decided to test other ways of shipping. Greg Maiers is the the shipper,
Perkins.

“About a third of their shipments we converted to a blanket-wrapping or using pads to secure the product in decking inside the trailers, as opposed to the way they had been doing it, with cardboard boxes.”

So instead of stacking bulky boxes, they just put the furniture in, put in a wood deck,
and put in another layer on top of that – all cushioned with pads.

The tests came up with three results. One: they didn’t have to buy cardboard boxing.
That made their retail customers happy because they didn’t have to deal with throwing
all that stuff away or trying to recycle it. Two: they could actually fit more office
furniture on the truck, so they didn’t need as many trucks on the road. Three: it does
take more labor to pack in the furniture and wrap it in blankets, stack the decks and so
on, so that cost a little more, but remember, there were fewer trucks, and that savings
more than offset that additional labor cost. So overall, shipping was cheaper.

Greg Maiers says corporate America is learning, and changing.

“Many, many industries are clearly getting the indication that there is an environmental impact that’s going on, there’s a change, and we have to address it. And many, many companies are doing it.”

And a lot of those companies are finding it’s also good for the bottom line.

For The Environment Report, I’m Lester Graham.

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Another Cutback in Amtrak Rail Service

  • Amtrak is starting to phase out the Three Rivers route. The National Association of Railroad Passengers is trying to prevent this from continuing. (photo by Michael Jastremski)

Phase-outs have started for an Amtrak passenger train that crosses through the Midwest. It’s the latest in a series of service cutbacks over the last few decades. But some riders are trying to reverse Amtrak’s decision. The Great Lakes Radio Consortium’s Chuck Quirmbach recently rode the rail line in question and talked with some passengers about the pending loss of service:

Transcript

Phase-outs have started for an Amtrak passenger train that crosses through the Midwest. It’s the latest in a series of service cutbacks over the last few decades. But some riders are trying to reverse Amtrak’s decision. The Great Lakes Radio Consortium’s Chuck Quirmbach recently rode the rail line in question and talked with some passengers about the pending loss of service:


(sound of train)


Amtrak has started reducing service on the Three Rivers line between Chicago and Philadelphia. By next April, people in Nappanee, Indiana and Akron, Youngstown, and Fostoria, Ohio will no longer have a passenger train in their city.


On a recent morning, Chicago resident Martin Escutia was riding the Three Rivers to see a friend in Youngstown. He had just flown to Chicago from Central America.


“Being as tired as I was, having the opportunity to be able to bed down and wake up at my destination it’s good convenience, it’s good to have.”


Escutia says losing the Three Rivers will put more people on highways and take away a transportation option. The National Association of Railroad Passengers is trying to restore the cutbacks. But Amtrak says Three Rivers service between Pittsburgh and Chicago was only started to haul bulk mail, and Amtrak is dropping the mail service because it doesn’t make enough money.


For the Great Lakes Radio Consortium, I’m Chuck Quirmbach.

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