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:

Alina Mejias

Alina is a graduate student from Costa Rica who is pursuing her M.S. degree in packaging. Alina’s research focuses on modeling the cost of low quality pallets on the cost of the supply chain.

Undergraduate Student:

Jessie Arevalo

Jessie is a 2017 Sustainable Packaging Designer Trainee. He is working as an ISTA certified lab technician and is investigating the effect of material handling on unit load containment force. 


Unit Load Design is a revolutionary, systems design approach that significantly reduces the cost of distributing products to consumers by understanding how pallets, packaged products, and handling equipment, mechanically interact. Unit Load Design is a new and valuable service that pallet, packaging, and handling equipment suppliers can offer their customers. This three-day short course will teach techniques that you can use to save money when designing pallets and packages by considering the interactions between all of the components of unit loads. The course will use a state-of-the-art unit load design software called “Best Load” to better demonstrate the steps of unit load design process. You will also be taken on a tour of a working, state of the art, packaging and pallet testing laboratory!  Learn more about our short courses here!

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 Annual Membership Meeting brings together industry professionals to discuss the Center’s past year of research projects, the results discovered, and how the new knowledge will assist the industry. Our members also 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. If you’re already a Center member, we look forward to seeing you in September. We will have a welcome dinner on Tuesday, Sept 11th and the Annual Membership Meeting will commence on Wednesday, Sept. 12th. More information and schedules will be available as we get closer to the meeting. Learn more about the benefits of being a Center member here!

All of the skills taught in our assistantship programs will benefit students by making them ideal employees for the industry. Students offered an assistantship receive a stipend of $20K-$25K annually for living expenses. This is in addition to often having tuition ($12,000 annually) paid for by the Center. They will conduct independent scientific research sponsored by major packaging and pallet designing and manufacturing companies. And, gain management skills by working as laboratory managers, as well as learning to operate industry specific testing equipment. Students with assistantships travel & represent the Center at trade shows and present scientific findings at conferences. All of our students graduate equipped with the skills and knowledge needed to stand out and succeed. They are highly desired by the industry and are paid starting salaries over $80K. In fact, 90% have jobs lined up before finishing their degree. Learn more about the Graduate Assistantships offered!

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!

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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!

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We have many students that are part of the Sustainable Packaging Designer Training 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!

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Center Members: