Tesla: A Case Study in Zero Waste

From 2012-2013 Tesla Motors had experienced an increase in gross profit that was primarily due to higher vehicle production volumes however in their update to shareholders Tesla had also credited some significant advancements in its reduction of waste in the supply chain which produced significant cost savings. Here is how they did it...

In early 2012 Stopwaste.Org awarded a grant to Tesla Motors a $40,000 StopWaste grants to help in eliminating corrugated cardboard and plastic foam packaging used for glass components and Front End Carrier Racks of the Model S sedan and replacing them with custom reusable glass racks and cube racks.

Tesla identified their windshields and Front End Carrier Racks were particularly wasteful. Delivered one per box and with cardboard and HDPE foam packaging, all of the windshield packaging materials had to be discarded after one use. As a result Tesla was able to avoid 130 annual tons of GHG, equal to taking 27 cars off the road!

Tesla used the funds to switch to reusable racks for shipping their windshields, saving money, reducing waste, and improving manufacturing process efficiency. The Front End Carrier Racks too were delivered one per box and packaged in disposable corrugated cardboard. Switched to 1,452 custom made, reusable racks for shipping front end carriers, with help from a $10,000 StopWaste grant. The racks were integrated seamlessly into the production line and are returned to the supplier after use, this reduced freight and labor costs, and prevented 278 tons of cardboard waste per year.