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Wal-Mart speaks: Reduce packaging

November 8, 2006

Wal-Mart has begun keeping track of its suppliers’ use of packaging, with a stated aim of conserving resources. The world’s largest retailer has issued a “packaging scorecard” by which it will measure its vendors’ packaging according to a specific list of metrics. Its goal, the company says, is “to reduce packaging across its global supply chain by 5 percent by 2013”.

The packaging scorecard, says the company, allows suppliers to evaluate themselves relative to other suppliers. The metrics relate to a list of attributes that Wal-Mart calls the “7 R’s of Packaging”: Remove, Reduce, Reuse, Recycle, Renew, Revenue, and Read. In a prepared statement, Wal-Mart says that its Packaging Sustainable Value Network, a group of 200 leaders in the global packaging industry, including suppliers, experts, and internal and external stakeholders, have outlined the following metrics for the packaging scorecard:

Fifteen percent will be based on each of the following: GHG/CO2 per ton of production; material value; product/package ratio; and cube utilization. Ten percent will be based on each of these: transportation, recycled content and recovery value. Five percent will be based on renewable energy, and an equal amount on innovation.

“We at Wal-Mart recognize that we have unique strengths and a unique opportunity to have a positive impact on the environment through our own actions, those of our customers, and those of our suppliers,” says Matt Kistler, vice president of package and product innovations for Sam’s Club. “As vital as the packaging initiative is to reaching our environmental goals, it is also very good for our business and our suppliers’ business.”

“The packaging scorecard is a great tool for Wal-Mart to run a more efficient business, but also has significant benefits for its suppliers,” says Ben Miyares, vice president of industry relations for the Packaging Machinery Manufacturers Institute, which sponsored Pack Expo in Chicago, where the Wal-Mart announcement was made. “This company is showing real leadership by introducing a tool and a process to get tangible results toward an ambitious goal.”

Wal-Mart maintains that a packaging reduction of 5 percent will prevent millions of pounds of trash from reaching landfills, save energy and reduce emissions. The scorecard is being given to more than 2,000 private label brand suppliers. Other suppliers can view an online demonstration at An additional website,, showcasing the Packaging Supplier Virtual Trade show, is aimed at helping product suppliers find packaging suppliers who might help them make improvements and conserve resources.

On February 1, 2007, Wal-Mart will share the packaging scorecard with its global supply chain of more than 60,000 suppliers. During a one-year trial period, suppliers will be able to input, store and track data, learning and sharing their results as desired. As of February 1, 2008, Wal-Mart will begin using the packaging scorecard to measure and recognize its entire supply chain based upon each company’s ability to use less packaging, utilize more effective materials in packaging, and source these materials more efficiently relative to other suppliers.

“We are encouraged by the positive response from our suppliers and are looking forward to continuing this collaboration,” adds Kistler. “We have an opportunity to make a real positive impact and inspire change across the packaging industry.”
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