For Walmart, sustainable packaging embraces the concept of a “circular economy,” which moves away from a “take-make-dispose” approach to one that values the reuse and regeneration of materials and energy. Which is why we have extended our zero waste aspiration beyond our own operations to include our whole supply chain and are setting a new aspiration of zero plastic waste. Is your business ready to make more sustainable packaging choices?

Packaging plays an important role in protecting and delivering quality products to our customers. But in most cases, packaging is simply a means to transport a product. Once the end user has removed the product packaging it becomes waste. The World Bank estimated that the world produced 3.5 million tons of solid waste per day in 2010, and that amount is projected to double by 2025. By optimizing design, sourcing sustainably and supporting recycling in packaging, we can work to help reduce greenhouse gas emissions through reduced weight in transportation, increased use of recycled content, and mitigating carbon from landfill. Designers, manufacturers and brands have a unique opportunity to help deliver more efficient, innovative, and sustainable packaging to shelf.

Reducing unnecessary plastic waste and increasing plastic recycling are key priorities for Walmart. Learn more about Walmart's Zero Plastic Waste Aspiration and view our new Walmart Recyclability Playbook, which was introduced to help companies setting recyclability and recycled content goals for packaging.

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How to Join

To join the Packaging pillar of Project Gigaton, your company should commit to a goal specific to any or all of these areas: 1) optimize design, 2) source sustainably or 3) support recycling. Walmart has specific goals focused on our private brand packaging and we recommend all suppliers review Walmart's Zero Plastic Waste Aspiration when setting a Project Gigaton goal.

For example, you could submit a goal to:

  • Design for recyclability for 100 percent of packaging by 2025.
  • Increase use of recycled content or bio-based materials by 20 percent by 2025.
  • Lessen the weight of your packaging by 10 percent by 2020.
  • Switch from corrugate containers to reusable packaging containers (RPCs) to reduce damages by 20 percent by 2019.

The above goals are illustrative examples only and by no means the only goal style that could be submitted as part of Project Gigaton – you’ll need to determine the scope, timeline and type of goal that makes sense for your company and products. Formal, specific goals lead to substantially better returns and are an important part of being eligible to be recognized by Walmart; so, when setting a new goal, make sure it’s SMART. SMART goals are:

  • Specific – what’s your impact area?
  • Measurable – can you measure progress?
  • Achievable – is this a reasonable goal?
  • Relevant – does this fit into your strategy?
  • Time limited – by when?

After joining Project Gigaton, you’ll be asked to report on your progress annually so the impact can be recognized and attributed toward the Project Gigaton target.

Practical guidance on setting a packaging goal

As you look to develop your packaging target, please consider the sustainable packaging priority areas outlined in the Walmart Sustainable Packaging Position Statement and Playbook:

In addition to identifying common opportunities for packaging improvement, the Walmart Sustainable Packaging Position Statement and Playbook provides best practices, additional guidance and resources for each of these areas. Establishing a packaging commitment will be unique for each company. However, the below graphic may be helpful as you evaluate your current status and develop plans for improvement:

If you're interested in addressing the recyclability of your packaging and/or integrating recycled content, the information in the Walmart's Recycling Playbook may be able to help. The Walmart Recycling Playbook is presented by packaging format (i.e., PET bottle, HDPE bottle, etc.) and is focused on the most common packaging formats found in Walmart stores. For each major packaging format, we have provided information designed to inform on the recyclability of particular design elements based on existing infrastructure. Walmart encourages all suppliers to take a lifecycle perspective when seeking to optimize package design, and to consider using consumer-friendly recycling labels, like the How2Recycle® label for customer education.

If you’d like to work to optimize design and source sustainably for your packaging, tools such as the COMPASS (Comparative Packaging Assessment) tool can help to evaluate the greenhouse gas impact of common changes such as:

  • Reducing packaging weight without sacrificing protection (optimizing design)
  • Improving cube efficiency to reduce transport impacts (optimizing design)
  • Increasing the use of postconsumer recycled content (sourcing sustainably)
  • Replacing fossil-based plastics with bio-based plastics (sourcing sustainably)
What will you report each year and how will it be converted to GHGs?

Each year, you’ll be asked to submit data points to Walmart based on the Project Gigaton pillars you’ve joined (Energy, Waste, Agriculture, etc.). For Packaging, you’ll be asked to submit the greenhouse gas impact of improvements you’ve achieved in a given reporting year. There are three options for submitting Packaging data to Project Gigaton reporting:

Option 1: If your company already reports to the CDP Climate Change Questionnaire each year, your disclosure can be leveraged to report emissions reductions to Project Gigaton. To report to Project Gigaton using your CDP disclosure, you must grant permission through your company’s Project Gigaton account for Walmart to use your CDP data and the following CC4.3b fields must be completed in your CDP disclosure:

  • Activity type and description
  • Estimated annual metric tons CO2e savings
  • Scope
  • Estimated lifetime of the initiative
  • Percent of CO2e savings dedicated toward Project Gigaton (assumed to be 100% unless otherwise noted)

Please use the CDP Climate Change Reporting Guidance to properly respond to question CC4.3b. If you haven’t received a request to disclose from CDP but would like to volunteer to do so, please contact and CDP will help you get started.

Option 2: For companies that do not report their emissions reductions to the CDP Climate Change Questionnaire each year, you can still report your already calculated aggregate greenhouse gas emissions reductions to Project Gigaton by providing the following:

  • Estimated annual metric tons CO2e savings
  • Activity type and description
  • Scope
  • Estimated lifetime of the initiative

If your company uses the COMPASS (Comparative Packaging Assessment) tool to calculate the impact of your packaging changes, emissions information provided by the tool and can be submitted to Project Gigaton.

  • Emissions prior to packaging change
  • Emissions after packaging change
  • Description of initiative (if desired)

Additionally, if your company invests in scaling recycling infrastructure through the Closed Loop Fund, the Closed Loop Fund can provide emissions reductions attributable to your investment and this information can be submitted toward Project Gigaton.

Option 3: For companies that need help calculating the greenhouse gas impacts of their initiatives, you can still report to Project Gigaton by submitting the following data points and allowing Walmart to calculate your greenhouse gas emissions reductions according to approach described in the 2018 Project Gigaton Accounting Methodology.

To calculate the impact of using certified timber, pulp or paper, report the following:

  • Quantity of certified material
  • Material type (timber or pulp/paper)
  • Certification program (FSC; SFI or PEFC in select countries*)
  • Source country
  • % material used in packaging vs. product

To calculate the impact of using recycled content in pulp or paper products, report the following:

  • Quantity of recycled content
  • % material used in packaging vs. product

To calculate the impact of using recycled plastic, glass or aluminum, report the following:

  • Quantity of recycled content
  • Material type

To calculate the impact of material reduction, report the following:

  • Quantity of material reduced
  • Material type
  • % recycled material used in package prior to reduction

To calculate the impact of reduced transport due to packaging changes, report the following:

  • Mass of packaging system shipped
  • Mode of transport (rail, air, etc.)
  • Number of miles reduced for transport of packaging system

To calculate the impact by substituting packaging material, report the following:

  • Package prior to substitution: mass, material type and % recycled content
  • Package after substitution: mass, material type and % recycled content

To calculate the impact for designing-for-recyclability, report the following:

  • Quantity of packaging impacted
  • Packaging change:
  • Removed or replaced wax coating from corrugated trays/ box

Removed or replaced non-recyclable shrink sleeve on PET bottles
Removed or replaced a closure, pump or sprayer made of metal, PVC, or silicone on PET or HDPE packaging

For additional information about Project Gigaton, refer to the Frequently Asked Questions or Project Gigaton Accounting Methodology.

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