For hazardous materials such as paint, the Navy has already initiated an excellent program to control both the materials and their packages, with significant source-reduction savings in both the materials and their packages.
For goods that are manufactured strictly or mostly for the Navy or other branches of the military, the procuring agencies routinely specify exactly the packages that are acceptable. There are substantial opportunities for source reduction in this area, many of them along the lines discussed above for shipping containers. Here too a switch from rigid to flexible packaging structures may be feasible and result in substantially less packaging waste for disposal.
If the Navy is to indeed work toward zero discharge from ships, the guiding principle is simple: if it goes on, it has to come off. Therefore, the less that goes on, the less that must be managed on board and ultimately off-loaded and disposed of. Further, if it is still useful when it comes off, then it can be reused and therefore does not require disposal. Although zero discharge may require more, or at least different, management on board, the overall impact may be less. Thus, attention should be given to reusable packages, as well as to smaller (less volume) packages.