I'm in the middle of a cross-country move and had to initiate a second round of DVD case reduction---they're just a huge waste of space. The inlined picture is a few of the cases I had to throw out. I put them in recycling, but who knows what their final fate will be? Interesting to note is that all these cases were acquired in the last 1-2 years, well within the era of broadband internet connections.
The possibility of PADI switching to slim DVD cases spurred some readers to comment. Apparently I'm not the only one frustrated with the excess plastic lying around. Some commenters think scuba agencies should switch to internet distribution, and I tend to agree. Some even pointed out the conflict between all this plastic and PADI's own Project AWARE. Others point out that apart from any environmental impact, they just take excessive shelf space (thin cases vs. full size doesn't save that much plastic, after all).
In other areas PADI seems to be opting for digital distribution. New instructor manuals, for instance, can be downloaded in PDF format. The PADI Guide to Teaching also comes with a digital version, in addition to the oversized hardback binder. I think this is great, and in fact never use the hard copies (and most likely never will), instead opting for iPad + PDF.
I wonder if copyright protection has anything to do with the slow adoption rate? It's easy to duplicate digital files, and selling books / DVDs is a good stream of revenue for most agencies.
Is pure internet distribution in the near or distant future for the major agencies? Would most scuba trainees even prefer this over traditional paper or DVDs? It seems at this point the question isn't if, but when.