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Walmart’s Private Brand Shifting to Sustainable Packaging by 2025

Retailer at annual supplier forum announces new initiative to reduce plastic waste
Walmart sign
Photograph courtesy of Walmart

Walmart Inc. has revealed its plans to reduce plastic waste by improving the sustainability of its private brand product packaging, with a mission to achieve 100% recyclable, reusable or industrially compostable packaging by 2025.

The company said it will work with its U.S. private brand suppliers to eliminate nonrecyclable packaging material polyvinyl chloride (PVC) in general merchandise packaging by 2020 and is targeting at least 20% post-consumer recycled content in private brand packaging by 2025.

What’s more, Walmart seeks to reduce private brand plastic packaging when possible and aims to label 100% of food and consumable private brand packaging with a How2Recycle label by 2022, which is designed to clearly communicate recycling instructions to the public.

The initiative, announced Feb. 26 at Walmart’s annual supplier forum, is expected to impact more than 30,000 SKUs.

“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,” said Laura Phillips, SVP of global sustainability for Walmart, said in a statement. “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.”

Walmart also introduced a new recycling playbook, designed to provide information to companies pursuing recyclable packaging and recycled content goals. The playbook offers overviews on which types of plastic packaging are more easily recyclable and provides information on recycling challenges for certain packaging materials.

The retailer has several initiatives underway to support its goal of becoming zero waste, including:

  • Offering low-cost alternatives for single-use plastic consumable products, such as straws, cutlery and disposable tabletops.
  • Recycling shrink wrap in most markets.
  • Providing access to in-store plastic bag and film recycling bins for customers.
  • Encouraging suppliers to include the How2Recycle label on pack, which more than 800 Walmart private label suppliers participating last year.

The Walmart Foundation also supports a number of circular economy initiatives, including the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation’s Beyond 34 Project—aimed at increasing the current 34% recycling rate in the U.S. by providing a scalable model to increase and improve the recycling and recovery rates in local communities.

“We commend Walmart for working with suppliers in seeking solutions to shared problems related to plastic waste,” said 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.”

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