Our team contains experts in primary packaging, advanced packaging materials, pallets and distribution packaging, supply chain optimization, lean manufacturing, and process improvement. Our diverse expertise and 40+ years of knowledge generated through state-of-the-art research and real life industrial consulting allows us to help your company create safer, more sustainable, and cheaper packages, unit loads, and transportation systems. We are part of the Department of Sustainable Biomaterials in the College of Natural Resources & Environment at Virginia Tech.

CPULD is the one of the leading research facilities in the US that performs comprehensive research and development work, provides technical assistance, and offers educational programs focusing the whole packaging system – including pallets, primary and secondary packaging, and material handling equipment. Using state of the art technology, we research every aspect of the material handling system from primary packaging all the way through unit load design.

The Center for Packaging and Unit Load Design is an Industry/University Partnership. Membership is open to all individuals, firms, and associations interested in unit load based material handling efficiency. Industry members provide support, encouragement, advice, and funding. Membership funds help us attract and train high caliber employees and conduct state-of-the-art research needed by industry.

Our laboratories are certified to conduct tests by:

The National Wooden Pallet & Container Association (NWPCA) is the largest international
organization with more than 625 company members in 28 countries who manufacture, repair
and distribute pallets and wood packaging in unit-load solutions, or who supply products and
services to the industry.

Our mission is to provide an environment for our members to succeed while promoting the
wood pallet and wood packaging industry.

National Wooden Pallet &
Container Association


CHEP is a global provider of supply chain solutions serving the consumer goods, fresh food,
beverage, manufacturing and retail sectors in more than 60 countries. CHEP offers a wide
range of logistics and operational platforms and support services that are designed to increase
performance and lower risk while improving environmental sustainability.



Student Spotlight:

Graduate Student:

Nicolas Navarro

Nicolas will research smart sensors for distribution packaging. Obtaining data on shock, vibration, and environmental conditions that a package experiences throughout the supply chain will enable us to create safer and more sustainable packages. 

Undergraduate Student:

Meredith Brooks

Meredith is part of the 2019 Distribution Packaging Internship Program. She is a rising junior from Virginia Beach, VA. She is now working as an ISTA certified lab technician and is investigating the effect of material handling on unit load containment force. 


The Center for Packaging and Unit Load Design’s Spring, 2020 newsletter is now finished and posted to the About Us section of our website. CPULD News has changed formats! From now on, you will find our newsletters as easily accessible webpages linked to our site.

In this edition, you will find many articles about the following:

  • Improvement project for ISO 17025 accreditation.
  • Results of our graduate research projects.
  • Results of our Spring 2020 undergraduate research projects.
  • Alumni Spotlight: Chandler Quesenberry.
  • Student Spotlight: Ben McMurray.
  • Changes and improvements at CPULD.
  • And more!

Please enjoy and feel free to share CPULD’ News, Spring 2020 edition!

View “CPULD News, Spring 2020”

If you would like to: Learn how packages are evaluated for Amazon, learn the packaging requirements for Amazon, see demonstrations of what packages have to go through before they’re allowed to be shipped through Amazon’s distribution supply chains, and meet our talented students and lab technicians.

Come to the Center for Packaging and Unit Load Design’s Open House on Dec. 10th at 4pm.

Our lab can help you learn what is needed to design or redesign your packaging to meet Amazon’s requirements as well as create packaging designs that are successful, sustainable, and cost-effective to help increase your company’s competitiveness.

Learn more here!

The Center for Packaging and Unit Load Design has published a new White Paper about Circular Economies and the Pallet Industry! On a fundamental level, the circular economy is a rethinking of how products, materials, and packaging can be cycled back into supply chains. It is a whole systems approach. Resources are utilized for their full life and then they are recovered or recycled. Learn more by reading the summary posted on LinkedIn, and/or the full White Paper posted under the Education heading of our website!


Circular Economies and the Pallet Industry

The Center for Packaging and Unit Load Design’s Fall 2019 newsletter is now finished and posted to the About Us section of our website.

Inside you will find many articles about the following: CPULD’s summer renovations, a summary of the Annual Membership Meeting held in August, the services offered by our new Primary Packaging Materials Lab, updates on research being done, and you will learn about one of CPULD’s founders, George Stern, and his many contributions to our Center and the industry as a whole! You will also be introduced to CPULD’s graduate students, read about the head of the Primary Packaging Materials Lab, and more!

Please enjoy and feel free to share CPULD’s Fall 2019 newsletter!

Download “CPULD News, Fall 2019”

The Center for Packaging and Unit Load Design’s Summer 2019 newsletter is now finished and posted to the About Us section of our website. 

In it you will find many articles regarding our Center’s collaborations with NWPCA, and their research division The Pallet Foundation, as well as research highlights about the studies about to begin and those recently completed through their funding! You will also be introduced to CPULD’s new summer interns, read about the managing director of the center, and more!

Please enjoy and feel free to share CPULD’s Summer 2019 newsletter!

Download “CPULD News, Summer 2019”

THEME: iPackage – Global trends of emerging packaging technology.

WHERE: Squires building, Old Dominion Ballroom, Virginia Tech – Blacksburg, VA

WHEN: April 2nd – 4th, 2019

WHAT: Packaging Jamboree is an annual conference that rotates between universities around the U.S. that have packaging programs. It is a three-day, student-led event filled with educational, networking, and professional development opportunities for students and industry professionals. The theme for this year is “iPackage”-Global trends of emerging packaging technology. As the world shifts to the realization of an autonomous economy, companies are noticing this trend and implementing them in their own style.

WHO: A wide array of packaging students and industry professionals from different sectors of the packaging industry.

Learn more about the 2019 Packaging Jamboree here!

Do not miss the August 1, 2019 deadline! Our lab’s are qualified to conduct Amazon package testing and the Amazon FFP testing. We can help you become a vendor that meets Amazon’s FFP certification program!

Virginia Tech’s Center for Packaging and Unit Load Design is certified to conduct all ISTA Amazon testing including: Project 6- Amazon – SCIO (A-G) and Project 6 – Over-boxing! 

Due to their extensive experience in distribution and protective packaging, our faculty and staff are also qualified to help improve your packaging so that it will pass the applicable Amazon testing!

Our lab’s turnaround time is only 2-3 days. Thus, we can help you get certified FAST.

Learn more here about the new Amazon rules and how CPULD can help you meet the requirements!

In today’s competitive economic era, the ability to protect your product for a competitive price is indispensable. There are two essentials needed to create sustainable packaging solutions: knowledge of the interactions between the different components of the packaging systems and professionals who know how to apply the principles of systems based packaging design.

Our Affiliate Membership program brings together industry professionals. At our annual meetings, we discuss the Center’s past year of research projects, the results discovered, and how the new knowledge will assist the industry. Our members also help determine where future research projects should be focused for the upcoming year.

If you would like to benefit from this pool of knowledge and help shape the future of packaging and pallet research, we hope you’ll consider joining the Center and attending the Annual Membership Meeting.  

Learn more about the benefits of being a Center member here!

More Center Info:

The White Papers are publicly offered research articles and presentations that the Center for Packaging and Unit Load Design has published. They contain compilations of data from the studies that we have conducted on packaging: its sustainability, reusability and design; pallets: their manufacture, testing, and design; and unit loads: its research and design. More articles are always being added as they are published so check out our White Papers for more information regarding these topics and more!

Click here for more.

We are pleased to offer educational programs that specialize in training the employees of our target industries. We offer various short courses: these are classes that last 2-3 days and focus on pallet, container, and unit load design. These courses are taught by educational professionals with close ties to the industry. Courses also include tours of our state of the art laboratories, which are here on-site. We are always in the process of developing special programs to fit specific educational needs. Feel free to contact us to find out more!

Click here for more.

We have many students that are part of the Distribution Packaging Internship Program here at Virginia Tech. They are looking for summer internships, Co-Ops, and/or full-time employment after graduation in order to be able to utilize their skills in an industrial setting. Due to our rigorous training program, our interns have extensive knowledge of pallets, packaging, and unit load design and evaluation. They are familiar with ASTM, ISO, and ISTA standards, and have exceptional work ethic. Click here to find out more about our interns and how they may fit with your company!

Click here for more.

Center Members: