ICI Paints World Group

I hated seeing hardwoods from our Georgia forests-popular, ash and oaks-being used for wood pallets. Slip sheets offer an environmental improvement."

--Steve Ernst, Operations Customer Service Manager, ICI Paints, Atlanta, Ga.

ICI Paints World Group is a business unit of Imperial Chemical Industries (ICI), headquartered in London, England. It serves three markets in the paint industry: decorative paints, autobody refinish coatings, and coating for metal cans and lids used by major can manufacturers throughout the world. In North America, ICI's decorative paints group manufactures and markets paints under the Ameritone, CIL, Decratrend, Devoe, Fuller-O'Brien, Glidden and Sinclair names.

ICI Paints currently is distributing Glidden-branded product to Home Depot on slip sheets. According to Steve Ernst, Operations Customer Service Manager, the reasons are twofold; the use of slip sheets adds value to Home Depot, one of ICI's best customers, and it is environmentally superior to wood pallets.

Before and After Slipsheets

Before, the ICI Paints facility in Georgia used about 150,000 to 200,000 wood pallets annually. The hardwood pallets weighed about 35 lbs. and cost about $6 apiece compared to slipsheets that weigh about 2 lbs. and cost $1.50 each. Now about 33 percent of product from the Georgia facility is slipsheeted. Annually, this saves ICI about $297,000 in purchasing costs and easily offsets the capital investment they made in slipsheet handling equipment. Additionally, slipsheets eliminate about 1,089 tons of wood from the waste stream each year.

Making the Transition

Making the switch to slip sheets was "a big challenge" in Ernst's words. New equipment, finding the right slip sheet, and employee training were needed.

ICI Paints has a liquid product, shipped in fiberboard cases (4 gallons to a carton) and in plastic 5-gallon buckets. The combination of the plastic buckets on a plastic slip sheet led to too much shifting in transport. A custom slip sheet was designed to meet the needs of shipping the 5-gallon product.

Initially, employees were concerned about being slowed down. Forklift operators have to be more careful, and Ernst found that it takes more time to load a truck when goods are on slip sheets, but the cost is not overwhelming. "ICI has not had to hire any additional employees due to slipsheeting, but does pay more overtime at peak times,” he says. The transition to slipsheets was not a major issue according to Ernst. "Using the slipsheeting equipment is not complicated; it just takes getting used to."

Pallet-Free Program Savings to ICI
  • Labor: $1,000 savings per year from unloading slip sheets versus wood pallets (It is quicker to unload incoming shipments of slip sheets than pallets); $62,000 additional labor costs per year associated with using the slip sheets.
  • Purchasing: $296,000 savings in pallet cost per year
  • Tracking/administration: The slipsheets are not returned to ICI Paints so they do not require any special tracking
  • Savings to recipient/customer: Customer saves by not disposing of or managing 66,000 incoming wood pallets for recycling.
Environmental Impact
  • Reduction in wood use: saves about 1,089 tons of wood annually with the potential for more if slip sheeting is used for products shipped to other retailers
  • Disposal reductions: fewer wood pallets to dispose of or otherwise manage. Slipsheets are recycled by customer.
  • Fuel/transport reduction: reduces fuel emissions as the slip sheets are lighter to transport than wood pallets; also fuel is saved as a result of transporting one truck load of slip sheets for every 25 truck loads of pallets.
Payback Period Analysis

The savings on pallet purchases paid for the new slipsheet handling equipment in less than three months.

Information from the California Integrated Waste Management Board.

To read the entire report, go to: http://www.ciwmb.ca.gov/packaging/CaseStudies/ICIPaint.htm