STORE SPACES

Walmart in new waste reduction push

BY Marianne Wilson

Walmart has set an ambitious goal for itself with regards to plastic waste reduction.

The chain issued a new set of plastic waste reduction commitments by leveraging its massive private brand program. The new commitments, announced at Walmart’s annual supplier forum, are expected to impact over 30,000 SKUs.

The move focuses 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 the supplier forum, Walmart executives said the company is working with suppliers to expand efforts to improve the sustainability of its private brand product packaging, with an emphasis on increasing recyclability and making it easier for customers to recycle.

Walmart announced that it will work with its U.S. private brand suppliers on the following commitments:

• Seek to achieve 100% recyclable, reusable or industrially compostable packaging for its private brand packaging by 2025;
• Target at least 20% 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.

Plastic waste is a growing concern for Walmart customers, associates and other key stakeholders. Walmart’s aspiration is to achieve zero plastic waste by taking actions across its business and working with suppliers to use less plastic, recycle more and support innovations to improve plastic waste reduction systems.

Some of the retailer’s current efforts to reach this goal include:

• 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.

The Walmart Foundation is also supporting a number of circular economy initiatives such as the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation’s Beyond 34 project – a multi-stakeholder initiative aimed at increasing the current 34%  recycling rate in the U.S. by providing a scalable model to increase and improve recycling and recovery rates in local communities.

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