Wal-Mart wants to eliminate all waste by reducing, recycling or reusing everything that comes into its 4,100 American stores by 2025, and for Asda, its British operation, the target is 2010, reported UK Times Online.
The giant retailer aims to reduce the amount of packaging in the supply chain 5 percent by 2013, and is working with suppliers to help find sustainable packaging solutions. The retailer recently hosted its fourth annual Sustainable Packaging Expo in Rogers, Ark., and discovered a cardboard box, made by Interstate Container, that stays waterproof for two weeks, is biodegradable and made of recycled cardboard, which may help the superstore meet its sustainability goals, according to UK Times Online.
Wal-Mart also offers customers the option to purchase reusable shopping bags to help cut plastic bag waste by one-third by 2013.
Wal-Mart is not alone in its drive to deliver sustainable packaging. Signaling a shared commitment to sustainability, four leading carton manufacturers have established the Carton Council to help increase carton recycling in the United States.
Last year, Wal-Mart recycled 180 million pounds of paper, plastic, aluminum and other items and 2.5 million tons of cardboard, and is turning its waste plastic into resin to manufacture clothes hangers and stepping stones for gardens, reported Times Online. Other sustainable efforts include shredding plastic bottles into fluff for dog beds, and running about 15 trucks on fuel made from the grease from its chicken roasters.
In February, Wal-Mart announced it would test four new kinds of fuel-efficient commercial trucks. The retail superstore already surpassed efficiency goals within its private fleet, reducing fuel use by more than 25 percent from 2005 to 2008. The company’s new goal is to double fleet fuel efficiency by 2015.
The retailer is also making significant changes in the design and construction of its stores to become more sustainable. The Times Online article reports that floors now contain 20 percent fly ash, recycled from the chimneys of coal-fired power plants, and are cast in forms made from soya beans instead of petroleum-based plastics, and all of Wal-Mart’s new roofs are now white to reflect heat.
In addition, the Wal-Mart store in Aguascalientes, Mexico, recently installed a solar power system that will generate 20 percent of the store’s energy needs. With over 1,056 solar panels totaling 174 kW installed, it is claimed to be largest photovoltaic complex in Latin America, according to ANES (the Mexican Solar Energy Association).
The retailer also asked its air conditioning (AC) suppliers to cut the energy use of their AC units. Lennox developed an air conditioner that exceeded the U.S. Department of Energy standards by 60 percent, and now Wal-Mart rivals are buying the new energy-efficient units, according to the Times Online article.
Wal-Mart also announced earlier this year its goals to reduce phosphates in products in the Americas region by 70 percent by 2011.