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Walmart announces a new set of Plastic Waste reduction commitments

Walmart has issued a set of commitments to support plastic waste reduction. The announcement was made at Walmart’s annual supplier forum.

The bold new commitments are likely to impact over 30,000 SKUs. The idea that floats behind this move is to help get to the heart of the problem by focusing on the retailer’s private brand packaging, building upon existing efforts to reduce plastic waste in Walmart U.S. and Sam’s Club operations, and encouraging national brand suppliers to set similar packaging goals.

At their annual supplier forum, the executives of Walmart threw light on the efforts being made by the company to improve the sustainability of its private brand product packaging and the emphasis it’s laying on increasing recyclability and making it easier for customers to recycle.

Walmart has announced to work with its U.S. private brand suppliers on the some commitments which are: seek to achieve 100 percent recyclable, reusable or industrially compostable packaging for its private brand packaging by 2025, target at least 20 percent post-consumer recycled content in private brand packaging by 2025, label 100 percent of food and consumable private brand packaging with the How2Recycle label by 2022, work with suppliers to eliminate the non-recyclable packaging material PVC in general merchandise packaging by 2020, and reduce private brand plastic packaging when possible, optimizing the use to meet the need.

Not only this, but Walmart also encouraged its national brand suppliers to make similar packaging commitments by leveraging its Project Gigaton platform. Also, a new recycling playbook has been introduced to provide information to companies pursuing recyclable packaging and recycled content goals.

The playbook gives an overview on majorly all sorts of things like the type of plastic, challenges faced during recycling etc. The new recycling guidance supplements Walmart’s already existing sustainable packaging playbook that offers information on sustainable packaging best practices such as optimizing packaging design and using consumer-friendly recycling labels.

Plastic waste is a big concern for everybody- be it Walmart customers, associates or other key stakeholders. Walmart aspires to achieve zero plastic waste and is ambitious enough to take necessary actions for the same. It’s making continuous efforts to motivate its business and suppliers to use less plastic, recycle more and support innovations to improve plastic waste reduction systems.

The retailers are not behind in doing their bit and have made the following efforts to reach the desired goal: offering low cost, high quality alternatives for single use plastic consumable products such as straws, cutlery and disposable tabletops, recycling shrink wrap in most markets—151 million pounds of plastics were recycled globally in 2017, providing access to in-store plastic bag and film recycling bins for customers, and encouraging suppliers to include the How2Recycle label on pack—last year more than 800 Walmart private label suppliers participated.

Also, The Walmart Foundation is also a supporter of the circular economy initiatives like the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation’s Beyond 34 project. This project is a multi-stakeholder initiative that focuses on increasing the current 34 percent recycling rate in the U.S. by providing a scalable model to increase and improve recycling and recovery rates in local communities.

“As a global retailer that has set an ambitious aspirational goal to create zero waste, we fully recognize that reducing plastic waste by increasing packaging circularity is an area where Walmart can lead.”

Laura Phillips, Senior Vice President for Global Sustainability at Walmart Inc. says: “Today’s announcement marks another key milestone in our ongoing journey of working with our private brand and national brand suppliers to deliver access to high-quality, sustainable products as part of the Walmart everyday low price promise.”

Steve Alexander, CEO of the Association for Plastics Recyclers explains: “This announcement sends a positive signal to the marketplace, especially in the United States. We applaud Walmart for establishing such a strong recyclable packaging goal and encourage others to pursue similar ambitions.”

While Shailesh Jejurikar, President of Procter and Gamble’s Fabric Care Division quoted: “We commend Walmart for working with suppliers in seeking solutions to shared problems related to plastic waste. In setting our own plastic waste reduction goals, P&G understands that driving meaningful change in this space will require collaboration.”

Walmart’s plastic waste reduction efforts are a subset of the company’s larger commitment of using its size and scale for good. It aims to do business in a way that enhances economic opportunity, encourages sustainability and strengthens local communities.

Publication date: 27/02/2019

Plastics INsight

This project has been co-funded with the support of the LIFE financial instrument of the European Union [LIFE17 ENV/ES/000438] Life programme

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Last update: 2020-07-14