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Featured Case Study

Smart, Sustainable Packaging Solution

Aiming for more sustainable solutions, TOTO saves resources, space andshipping costs with an innovative L-shaped box for its one-piece toilets.

Problem

Always a pioneer, TOTO introduced a series of unique one-piece toilets in the 1990s that offered an array of benefits for people, the planet, and water. “One-piece toilets are not only more aesthetically pleasing and more sanitary, but they also offer cleaner installation and less leakage,” says William Strang, chairman of TOTO Mexico and president of operations in the Americas for TOTO USA. In addition, their durable, often lower-profile silhouettes work well in streamlined or smaller spaces and allow extra room for storage. With fewer nooks and crannies, they’re also easier to clean and maintain and they do not overflow if obstructed. And best of all, they respect the planet with an advanced design that provides two types of flushes—whole or partial—enabling them to conserve water while performing effectively.

While the superior engineering of the L-shaped toilets improves the quality of our lives at so many levels, the rectangular boxes used to package them when they were first introduced did not. Because of the excess material used in early versions of the packaging, it fell short of TOTO’s sustainability standards. And, because of the space-wasting dimensions of the boxes, the toilets were also more costly to ship and warehouse than necessary.

innovation

To craft new packaging commensurate with the forward-thinking designs of the toilets, a team from TOTO USA’s plant in Morrow, Georgia, sought to minimize wasted materials and space by creating an L-shaped box that would align with the contours of the toilets. The goal was to not only reduce amount of material required for the packaging, but also to effectively double the amount of toilets that could be stored in a warehouse or shipped on a truck by flipping every other boxed toilet upside down and nesting it atop another facing upright.

While simple in concept, TOTO’s team faced a number of challenges in executing the packaging product. “The primary issue was stepping up the level of packaging protection to allow a 100-pound toilet to be flipped upside down and withstand a drop without breaking,” says the Morrow facility’s plant manager, Craig Stewart, who was the engineer in charge of the project. “We also needed our warehouses to accept the change, because we required their cooperation to work with a shipment full of palettes that involved an extra step in handling and de-nesting the boxes when they arrived.”

Undaunted, the team collaborated with two different box suppliers—one in Ontario, Canada, and the other nearby its plant in Morrow, Georgia—to come up with several iterations of boxes until they achieved a solution that eliminated the internal Styrofoam cushioning and substituted a cardboard member that was sufficient to buffer the toilets from breakage while allowing the porcelain material of the toilets themselves to serve as the weight-carrying component during shipping and storage. Once they came up with a viable package, they also analyzed the fabrication process to be sure the new boxes could be assembled in a timely manner.

Solution

After getting all the stakeholders on board, TOTO worked with its suppliers to develop the robotic operations to efficiently produce the new L-shaped packaging, then insert the toilets and shrink wrap them to ship (need to check this fact?). It is now used to safely and efficiently house all of the company’s one-piece toilets—from the transitional-style UltraMax II, Carlyle II, Supreme II, and Carolina II toilets, with their Double Cyclone flush technology, to the traditional-style ADA-compliant Eco Guinevere toilet to the contemporary-style, ultra-efficient Legato, Aimes, Aquia, Eco Soirée, and Eco Lloyd toilets. The boxes are made from 100 percent recycled post-consumer paper products from one supplier and 30 percent recycled content from the other. So, in addition to the planet-friendly, water-conserving benefits the toilets themselves offer, their packaging is easy on the planet, too. And thanks to the unique design of the innovative boxes, TOTO was able to cut the space consumed in warehouses in half and double the number of toilets that can be shipped on a truck. “Lower shipping and warehousing costs translate into lower costs for the consumer,” says Stewart. “The packaging also plays into the products’ LCA (define?) score, which takes all components into consideration when evaluating the carbon impact of a product’s life cycle.” With 20,000 toilets shipped from its Georgia-based plant each month, the inventive packaging promises to add yet another plus point to the list of benefits of one-piece toilets. It also underscores TOTO’s commitment to thinking holistically about people, the planet, and water.

Benefits for PeoplePlanetWater

Developed to efficiently package TOTO’s broad selection of one-piece toilets, many of which are ADA compliant, WaterSense approved and/or CalGreen certified, sustainably made L-shaped boxes provide a number of tangible benefits for people, the planet and water. Here are a few of them:

People

Lower costs. An L-shaped box allows TOTO to double the number of one-piece toilets it can ship to its distributors on a 53-foot trailer. By inverting every other box and nesting it atop another, the increase in the number of toilets conveyed in one shipment reduces the overall cost to transport them—and these savings are passed on to the distributors and dealers and subsequently to the consumer.

Planet

Smaller carbon footprint. Made with various levels of recycled post-consumer paper products, the sustainable packaging material limits the impact on our planet. The configuration of the packaging allows the toilets to be shipped and stored in fewer cubic feet of space, which cuts carbon emissions by reducing the number of vehicles—and the amount of fuel—required to ship the same number of toilets to various parts of the country.

Water

Reduced water consumption. Fewer trucks shipping more toilets mean less water is required to keep the trucks clean. More water-conserving one-piece toilets in the world translate into more clean water left in the world.

High-efficiency toilets, such as TOTO’s new UltraMax II one-piece 1 gpf toilet, saves both water and money, according to U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s WaterSense program. A 1.28 gpf toilet versus a 1.6 gpf toilet, for example, can trim as much as 20 percent off a household water bill.