In an article published on October 25, 2016 in the Plastics News, Michael Lauzon informed that the U.S. retailer Walmart has on the same day unveiled its newly prepared document, Sustainable Packaging Playbook. With this, Walmart aims to provide “an overview of sustainable packaging best practices for suppliers interested in improving and innovating packaging.” The three main recommendations presented by Walmart are to optimize design, source sustainably, and support recycling.
To optimize design, Walmart advises the suppliers to consider if the packaging adequately protects the product, and if all the materials used to produce the packaging are truly needed or can be replaced or even omitted. Further, Walmart suggests to eliminate all unnecessary packaging such as extra boxes or ties.
To source sustainably, Walmart advises the suppliers to ensure that the materials used to make the packaging are sourced in a way that is environmentally and socially responsible, and to “enhance material health” by checking on whether the “priority chemicals [have] been removed, reduced, or restricted.” Concerning the identification of the ‘priority chemicals’, Walmart refers to the classification criteria outlined by REACH.
To support recycling, Walmart advises the suppliers to consider if the package is made with materials that allow for recycling. For example, the use of biodegradable additives should be avoided in petroleum-based plastics due to possible contamination of recycling streams, and it should be ensured that any labels on the containers will not interfere with recycling operations. Further, closures and parent package should be made of the same material whenever possible, or it should be ensured that the closures can be easily separated. Last but not least, the recyclability of a packaging product should be communicated clearly to ensure that the consumers know what they should do with the used packaging.
Further information provided by Walmart includes the inventory of additional resources, and the advice on how to meet business requirements and measure performance.
Michael Lauzon (October 25, 2016). “Wal-Mart builds on its sustainability message to suppliers.” Plastics News
Anne Marie Mohan (October 26, 2016). “Walmart reignites ‘passion around packaging’.” Greener Package
Jessica Lyons Hardcastle (October 27, 2016). “Why Walmart’s zero-waste goal includes suppliers, sustainable packaging.” Environmental Leader
Anne Marie Mohan (October 30, 2016). “From scorecard to playbook: Walmart’s packaging evolution.” Greener Package
Tammy Lovell (November 10, 2016). “Walmart urges removal of hazardous chemicals from packaging.” Chemical Watch
Walmart (2016). “Sustainable Packaging Playbook.” (pdf).