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09/20/2022

Macy’s embraces automation, digitalization to reduce waste

Dan Berthiaume
Senior Editor, Technology
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mission everyone
Macy’s is moving ahead with sustainability initiatives.

Macy’s Inc. is turning to technology and best practices to help achieve a circular supply chain.

The department store retailer, which in March 2022 said it will direct $5 billion of its spend, scaling through 2025, to the partners, products, people, and programs that help create “a more equitable and sustainable future via its new “Mission Every One” social purpose platform, is launching initiatives to reduce, reuse and recycle.

To reduce waste, Macy’s private brand division is rolling out technology that allows the scaling back of the number of physical samples required from suppliers, without impacting fit, color and other design considerations.

In 2019, 5% of samples were digital; and by the end of the 2022 development season, 61% of all samples were made virtually. According to Macy’s this digital shift actively keeps product that would otherwise not have use out of landfills.

In addition, the retailer is deploying auto-boxer and auto-bagger technology enabling it to create unique packaging fitting odd or oversized items, and reducing box volume and waste up to 50%. And as of spring 2022, most packages for digital Macy’s orders fulfilled by the company’s fulfillment centers do not include printed invoices, as customers are able to reference order information in their online accounts and email receipts.

Through its partnership with Give Back Box, a company that sends donations to local charities, whereby customers can donate used clothing, shoes, jewelry or small household items by mail at no cost, Macy’s customers download a pre-paid shipping label from Macy’s website and send items to be donated for resale and recycling.

[Read more: Macy’s joins multiple sustainability efforts]

Macy’s has also adopted best practices to reduce packaging, including standardizing the size of packing cartons and minimizing packaging materials. In 2022, virgin plastic mailer bags were edited to include 35% recycled content, reducing the thickness of the bag by 20%.

As a result, virgin plastic input was reduced by more than 50%.All cardboard used by Macy’s fulfillment centers is Forest Stewardship Council (FSC)-certified and is comprised of 35% recycled content.

Additionally, both Macy’s and its Bloomingdale’s banner offer accessible care instructions and programs to help customers extend product life and reduce water and electricity use. For products like jewelry, watches and furniture, repair services are available through WorryNoMore Protection Plans and a partnership with My Jewelry Repair.

Furthermore, as part of its 2025 goal to recycle as much material as possible, the Macy’s beauty products division is running a pilot program to minimize environmental impact by shipping outdated collateral to a third-party to be recycled, rather than disposing of it in-store. Macy’s also launched a program to use RFID technology to track participation and weights of store cardboard recycling as part of its goal to increase store recycling rates to 80% by 2025.

Earlier in 2022, Macy’s became a part of the Ellen MacArthur Foundation community, focused on accelerating and enabling the transition to a global, circular economy and FABSCRAP, a non-profit in New York City that helps ensure that the fabric waste.

“As a leading, omnichannel retailer, we understand the role we play in creating a more equitable and sustainable future for all. We are committed to promoting a more circular economy across our value chain,” said Keelin Evans, VP of sustainability at Macy’s, Inc. “Our efforts are focused on providing sustainable and ethically produced brands, products, and services to our customers, while reducing our impact on the environment through operations. We’re going to achieve this through our guiding social purpose platform, Mission Every One, and an enterprise-wide collaboration with partners, designers, suppliers, logistics partners, entrepreneurs, colleagues and customers.”