Wal-Mart implements packaging scorecard

by Keith Nunes
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BENTONVILLE, ARK. — Wal-Mart Stores, Inc. implemented its packaging scorecard on Feb. 1. The rating system, announced by the company in September 2006, allows the retailer’s suppliers to rate their progress toward developing sustainable packaging initiatives.

"The packaging scorecard helps everyone make better decisions that are good for business, our customers and the environment," said Matt Kistler, senior vice-president of sustainability at Wal-Mart. "It’s important to us that our suppliers see the intrinsic value behind sustainability, both for their business and the environment. We’ve made significant progress throughout the first year of the scorecard and it is a key responsibility of our suppliers to input new products and update packaging changes on an ongoing basis."

The scorecard evaluates the sustainability of product packaging based on several metrics, including greenhouse gas emissions, product-to-package ratio, space utilization, innovation, the amount of renewable energy used and the distance packaging materials are transported. Suppliers receive a score in each category and may view how they rate overall compared to their competitors in each product category.

Two packaging success stories cited by the company include efforts by General Mills, Inc., Minneapolis, and the retailer’s private label suppliers of Member’s Mark apple juice. Through its efforts, General Mills shrunk its Hamburger Helper box by 20%. They also created a cardboard shipping case that has a window, which means 25% less cardboard is needed. According to Wal-Mart, the sustainability benefits include a savings of 890,000 lbs of paper fiber each year; reduced greenhouse gas emissions by 11%; and eliminated 500 trucks from the road each year.

The packaging of Wal-Mart’s Member’s Mark apple juice, sold through Sam’s Club, is produced using 100% renewable energy generated from hydroelectric plants. The mill and converters of the packaging also have realized a 35% gain in energy efficiency by integrating new technologies. In addition, all pallet caps and tier sheets used are made with 65% recycled materials.

"When we launched the scorecard for suppliers in 2007, we knew that we were going to work on the metrics behind the scenes, and we will continue to work with the member of our Packaging Sustainable Value Networks to refine those metrics," said Amy Zettlemoyer-Lazar, director of packaging for Sam’s Club. "We are in a unique position to drive positive change in the area of packaging by working with our suppliers."

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