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 US 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 announced that it will work with its US 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.
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.
“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,” says Laura Phillips, senior vice president for global sustainability at Walmart Inc. “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.”
“This announcement sends a positive signal to the marketplace, especially in the United States,” says Steve Alexander, CEO of the Association for Plastics Recyclers. “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,” says Shailesh Jejurikar, president of Procter and Gamble’s Fabric Care Division. “In setting our own plastic waste reduction goals, P&G understands that driving meaningful change in this space will require collaboration.”
By the end of 2017, Walmart diverted from landfills 81% of unsold products, packaging and other waste materials in the US.