Packing in a Purpose: Sustainable Product Packaging

Jan 21, 2021 9:35 AM ET

No matter the size or material, The Home Depot knows product packaging isn’t just about protecting the product—it’s also about protecting the environment. Through material experimentation, size configuration and good old-fashioned teamwork, engineers at The Home Depot are giving product packaging the attention it needs in the pursuit of sustainability.

The Material

The Home Depot is making strides to ensure more environmentally friendly materials make up its packaging.

From fiber-based honeycomb board to molded pulp, engineers at The Home Depot test new sustainable materials. “There’s no perfect material, but we want to move toward a better solution,” says Director of Packaging Engineering Greg Fornasiero.

The Size

Size matters in sustainability.

Creating “right-size” products is one of the many initiatives The Home Depot deploys in-store to eliminate 95 percent of EPS and PVC material across private brands by 2023 (one of the company’s sustainability goals). “Right-sizing” uses less packaging materials, creating less potential waste and a more efficient transportation of product. In 2019, The Home Depot removed 19,000 cubic feet of excess packaging by right-sizing the packaging of nearly 60 products.

The Teamwork

The Home Depot also works closely with merchants and suppliers to ensure sustainability is top of mind when adding new product lines. “Most of the suppliers are focused on the product, not the packaging. That’s where our team steps in and gives that expertise and insight,” says Greg.

In a pilot program with ceiling fans, The Home Depot engineers created a 20 percent reduction in box size when they used molded pulp. When using only paper-based materials in a similar pilot program with toilets, The Home Depot will be able to ship less containers by the thousand – all while performing better.

The team’s biggest success has been 100 percent EPS-free packaging of The Home Depot’s holiday and Halloween patio products. “The data we’re seeing is very encouraging,” says Greg.

Learn more about how The Home Depot is reducing packaging in the 2020 Responsibility Report.

Keep up with all the latest Home Depot news! Subscribe to our bi-weekly news update and get the top Built from Scratch stories delivered straight to your inbox.