Wal-Mart Stores, Inc. announced Friday plans to measure its 60,000 global suppliers on their ability to develop sustainable packaging and commit to conserving natural resources.
The world’s largest retailer is introducing a “packaging scorecard” to more than 2,000 private label suppliers on Nov. 1. The initiative will apply to more than 160,000 products seen globally by 176 million customers each week.
“This is a tool that will allow Wal-Mart buyers to have all the information about packaging alternatives or more sustainable packaging materials in one place, allowing them to make better purchasing decisions,” the company said in a statement.
The initiative is expected to create $11 billion in savings throughout the retail giant’s supply chain. That represents just a 5 percent reduction in 10 percent of the global packaging industry, the Bentonville, Ark., company said.
Wal-Mart alone is poised to save $3.4 billion. The initiative begins in 2008.
“Packaging is where consumers and suppliers come together and can have a real impact both on business efficiency and environmental stewardship,” said Wal-Mart CEO H. Lee Scott, at the conclusion of the Clinton Global Initiative in New York City.
“Even small changes to packaging have a significant ripple effect. Improved packaging means less waste, fewer materials used, and savings on transportation, manufacturing, shipping and storage,” he said.
In addition to preventing millions of pounds of trash from reaching landfills, the initiative is projected to save 667,000 metric tons of carbon dioxide from entering the atmosphere. This is equal to taking 213,000 trucks off the road annually, and saving 323,800 tons of coal and 66.7 million gallons of diesel fuel from being burned.
In February 2007, global suppliers will get access to the “tools and processes” to learn new ways of developing sustainable packaging solutions for a full year.
In 2008, Wal-Mart said it will score each supplier based on its ability to use less packaging, utilize more effective materials in packaging, and source these materials more efficiently.
“When you bring the capabilities of the entire supply chain together, the ability to make a difference really pops,” Scott said. “There’s a multiplier effect. Instead of just looking at what Wal-Mart can do alone, we have the opportunity to inspire thousands of companies and millions of customers, as well.”
The vision for the retailer’s packaging initiative started when the company partnered with suppliers to improve packaging on its private label Kid Connection toy line last year.
By reducing the packaging on fewer than 300 toys, Wal-Mart saved 3,425 tons of corrugated materials, 1,358 barrels of oil, 5,190 trees, 727 shipping containers and $3.5 million in transportation costs, in one year.
Wal-Mart Sustainable Packaging Value Network, a group of 200 leaders in the global packaging industry, is leading the project. This group includes representatives from government, NGOs, academia and industry.