Rich Lindgren, Sr. Manager, Packaging Optimization Practice
Wednesday, July 11, 2012
Several months ago, Pizza Hut made a subtle change to its delivery and takeout pizza boxes, at least here in the Minneapolis market. Unless you are a packaging nerd like me – yes, pizza boxes are a form of packaging – you may not have noticed the small, incremental change. On both its large and medium corrugated pizza boxes, Pizza Hut reduced the front rolled edge of the box by about half of the total box height.
From my end user perspective, I can tell you that this change had little to no effect on the performance of the box or the tastiness of the product inside. In fact, it is this kind of subtle change that many companies could and should be doing to reduce their sustainability footprint and simultaneously generate cost savings.
Letting my inner packaging geek get the best of me, I decided to deconstruct and analyze both the old and new versions of the pizza boxes in our Packaging Development Center to estimate what this change could mean for Pizza Hut. A few quick measurements and calculations revealed that Pizza Hut reduced their flat footprint by 4.1%.
While 4% does not seem like a huge number, it is quickly put into perspective when you consider Pizza Hut’s sales volumes, an estimated 675,000 boxes per day in the U.S alone. That adds up to annual reduction of more than 46 million square feet of corrugated board. If you stacked the eliminated material on an NFL football field (not covering the end zones), it would be more than 128 feet high! That is a serious pile of corrugated removed from our waste stream every year.
On a per pizza box basis, this change produces just about a ½ cent savings. Even though you probably won’t see a big discount on your next pie, Pizza Hut could easily be savoring $1-2 million dollars in annual savings. And beyond the material cost savings, there are likely incremental gains at the store level from fewer incoming shipments and a smaller storage footprint in what I would imagine are fairly tight storage spaces to begin with.
While we didn’t have anything do to with this change, this is a shining example of the kind of cost reduction opportunities that are available to many companies. Small, incremental changes to primary and secondary packaging can create a chain reaction of supply chain and sustainability wins. And, chances are your changes will only be noticeable to me and my fellow packaging fanatics.