Walmart is focusing on its private-brand packaging in an effort to reduce plastic waste in its operations, the company announced this week. Walmart says it will work with its US private brand suppliers to achieve its goals.
- Seeking to achieve 100% recyclable, reusable or industrially compostable packaging for its private brand packaging by 2025;
- Targeting at least 20% post-consumer recycled content in private brand packaging by 2025;
- Labeling 100% of food and consumable private brand packaging with the How2Recycle label by 2022;
- Working with suppliers to eliminate the non-recyclable packaging material PVC in general merchandise packaging by 2020; and
- Reducing private brand plastic packaging when possible, optimizing the use to meet the need.
Walmart is encouraging its suppliers to make similar packaging commitments through its Project Gigaton platform.
Society’s ability to collect and recycle plastic waste has failed to keep up with exponential increases in plastic production, which has grown to nearly half a billion tons per year. Approximately 35% of plastic produced is used in packaging, the majority of which is used once and then discarded. Less than 14% of plastic packaging is recycled globally, Walmart points out.
This low number is likely driven by a combination of consumer confusion about where/how to recycle, weak collection infrastructure, and broken links between plastic design and scalable processing infrastructure. To address such infrastructure gaps, organizations like Closed Loop Fund – which recently got a $10 million boost from Amazon – have been investing in scaling recycling infrastructure and sustainable manufacturing technologies.
Commitments from companies like Walmart, Amazon, and Procter & Gamble help send a positive message to the marketplace and encourage others to pursue similar ambitions, says Steve Alexander, CEO of the Association for Plastics Recyclers.
In 2016, Walmart became the first retailer to set a Science Based Target, committing to reducing its own emissions 18% by 2025 from 2015 levels, and to cutting 1 gigaton of emissions from its value chain by 2030.