Excerpts from an excellent article published in Packaging Gateway.
During mid-July 2009, the American retail giant Wal-Mart revealed a sustainability plan that could radically reform its entire production and distribution process. At the heart of the new policy is a sustainability index, which will act as a universal rating system that scores products based on how environmentally and socially sustainable they are during the course of their lives.
Given the immense scale of Wal-Mart’s operations in the US, the impact of this move has far wider implications for a number of industry sectors, in particular the packaging segment.
- Wal-Mart plans to reduce the amount of packaging in its supply chain by 5% by 2013 before going on to be completely packaging neutral by 2025.
- Small changes to packaging design can have significant impacts on the use of materials, manufacturing, shipping containers, trucks, storage, refrigeration, waste and energy used for production.
- In November 2006 Wal-Mart introduced a scorecard which evaluates the product packaging of its suppliers and the suppliers of Sam’s Club – the corporation’s retail warehouse chain. Each item’s packaging receives a grade based on Wal-Mart’s ‘7 R’s of Packaging’, which include removing unnecessary packaging, reusing transport packaging and recycling various materials. Suppliers are then encouraged to learn about ways to improve their packaging from the subsequent results.