Plastic waste has become an environmental catastrophe with over 5 trillion tons of plastic currently polluting our waters. More than 380 million metric tons of plastic are produced every year, only 2 million tons of which are actually recycled. Globally, 100 companies are responsible for 90% of the pollution, with Home Depot ranking 54th. Plastic wrap used for palletizing products appears to be the company's most significant contributor to waste. This wrap is typically made in 8lb rolls up to 1,500ft, enough to span nearly 5 football fields. A single aisle contains 20+ pallets that use plastic wrap to secure products, in addition to the 32 rolls of plastic wrap used daily. In one Home Depot, there are overhead storage areas in most of the 65 isles, receiving area, and the outside lumber and garden area that use the plastic wrap. This plastic wrap is used at Home Depot stores nation-wide, as well as other big-name retail stores. To reduce the use of plastic wrap, two prototypes were developed as long-term reusable alternatives. Requirements included the ability to be reused and durable enough to withstand palletization. The first prototype is an air-tight sealed bag that can be placed on top of products and vacuumed sealed to the pallet to be placed in overhead storage. The second prototype is the treasure chest-style pallet where the products are covered by a rigid tray and wrapped in a durable and flexible material. Not only do these concepts help to reduce plastic waste, but they save companies money by reducing operating costs and the number of work-related spinal injuries.
Jonathan Harris, MID
Integrated Product Design
Keene, Joshua, "Prioritized Pallets" (2023). Student Research Design & Innovation Symposium. 3.