RETAIL NEWS

Walmart focuses on reducing private brands’ plastic waste

BY Sandra Levy

Walmart has 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 more than 30,000 SKUs.

Walmart said the move is designed 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 the supplier forum, Walmart executives highlighted that 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 said 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% 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.

During the forum, Walmart encouraged its national brand suppliers to make similar packaging commitments through the retailer’s Project Gigaton platform.

Walmart also has introduced a new recycling playbook designed to provide information to companies pursuing recyclable packaging and recycled content goals. The recycling playbook gives overviews on what type of plastic packaging is more easily recyclable and provides information on recycling challenges for certain packaging materials. This new recycling guidance is a supplement to Walmart’s existing sustainable packaging playbook that offers information on sustainable packaging best practices such as optimizing packaging design and using consumer-friendly recycling labels.

“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. 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,” Walmart senior vice president, global sustainability Laura Phillips, said.

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

“We commend Walmart for working with suppliers in seeking solutions to shared problems related to plastic waste,” Shailesh Jejurikar, Procter and Gamble’s fabric care division president said. “In setting our own plastic waste reduction goals, P&G understands that driving meaningful change in this space will require collaboration.”

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