Herman Miller Earns EPA Award

December 17, 2007
| By Pete Daly |
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ZEELAND — A "smart packaging" strategy used by Herman Miller Inc. to reduce its product packaging waste has earned the company a 2007 WasteWise Gold Achievement Award from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

The company has reduced its cardboard and plastic packaging by more than 50 percent, a result of shipping many of its products in bulk, securely wrapped in reusable quilt-like padding.

"Finding smarter ways to ensure our products reach the customer intact is just one aspect of our environmental commitment," said Paul Murray, director of Environmental Health and Safety at Herman Miller. "We are committed both to integrity in our deliveries and reducing our environmental footprint."

This is Herman Miller's seventh WasteWise award since the program's introduction in 1994. Herman Miller was a founding member of the WasteWise program. The company also was recognized as Partner of the Year in 1999 and Program Champion in 2000 and 2001.

According to Susan Koole of Herman Miller corporate communications, the company has been using EPA publications and case studies in its attempt to reduce transport packaging. They also look for ideas from other members of the EPA WasteWise program.

Herman Miller "believes in minimal packaging, which includes blanket wrapping our seating products and filing and storage products. In addition, corrugated pads are placed on only the corners of our panels," said Koole.

Koole added that reducing packaging materials also allows Herman Miller to get more product into its semi-trailers.

"Not only are we reducing packaging, but we're reducing emissions, as well, by using fewer trucks for deliveries," said Koole.

Paper and paperboard products, including corrugated boxes, constitute about 35 percent of municipal solid waste in America — the largest portion of the waste stream — according to the EPA. That amounted to about 85 million tons of paper products in the municipal solid waste stream in 2006, nearly a three-fold increase from 1960.

Gold Achievement Award recipients were announced at the annual WasteWise conference held by the EPA in Washington, D.C., in November.

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