Packaging plays an important role in protecting and delivering quality products to our customers. How can we best design a package to reduce associated greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions?

In most cases, packaging is simply a means to transport a product. Once the end user has removed the product packaging it becomes waste. By optimizing design, sourcing sustainably and supporting recycling in packaging, the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions will be achieved through reduced weight in transportation and waste. Designers, manufacturers and brands have a unique opportunity to help deliver more efficient and innovative packaging to shelf.


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.

For example, you could submit a goal to:

  • Design for recyclability for 50 percent of packaging by 2025.
  • Lessen the weight of your packaging by 10 percent by 2020.
  • Switch from glass to plastic for packaging by 2021.
  • Increase use of recycled content or bio-based materials by 15 percent by 2030.
  • 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. The best goals are specific, measurable, and time bound. After submitting a goal using the button below, you’ll be asked to report on your progress annually so the impact can be recognized and attributed toward the Project Gigaton reduction target.

Practical guidance on setting a packaging target

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 are interested in making packaging changes to support recycling, we encourage use of the consumer-friendly How2Recycle label for packages sold in the United States and similar standardized labels globally. Examples of common packaging changes to support recycling include:

  • Removing non-recyclable shrink-wrap sleeves from PET bottles (sleeves cause bottles to be sorted into waste for landfill)
  • Removing wax coating from corrugated trays or cases (wax often prevents corrugate from being recycled)
  • Removing metal, PVC, and/or silicone closure, pump, or sprayer from packaging (metal, PVC, and/or silicone closure renders the rest of the plastic packaging unrecyclable)

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 data to Project Gigaton reporting:

Option 1: If your company already reports to the CDP Climate Change Questionnaire each year, this information can be leveraged to report emissions reductions to Project Gigaton. To report to Project Gigaton using your CDP disclosure, you must grant permission for Walmart to use your CDP disclosure during the sign up or reporting process and the following CC3.3b fields must be completed in your CDP disclosure:

  • Activity type
  • Description of activity
  • Estimated annual metric tons CO2e savings
  • Scope

Please use the 2017 CDP Climate Change Reporting Guidance to properly respond to question CC3.3b.

Option 2 – Optimize design or source sustainably: If your company already uses the COMPASS (Comparative Packaging Assessment) tool to calculate emissions avoidance associated with your packaging changes (specifically, optimizing design or sourcing more sustainable materials), you will be asked to submit the following data points for Project Gigaton reporting:

  • Emissions per packaging unit before and after the packaging change (kgCO2e), as calculated using the COMPASS tool
  • Number of units produced or sold in the reporting year

Option 3 – Design to support recycling: For companies that do not report their emissions reductions to the CDP Climate Change Questionnaire each year, or who have implemented projects but are unable to calculate the greenhouse gas impacts (specifically, design changes to support recycling), you can still report to Project Gigaton by submitting the following data points and Walmart will calculate the emissions reductions:

  • Short tons of PET bottles that had non-recyclable shrink sleeve which has been removed or replaced
  • Short tons of corrugated trays/ box that had wax coating which has been removed or replaced
  • Short tons of PET/HDPE containers that had a closure/ pump/ sprayer made of metal, PVC, or silicone which has been removed or replaced

There is no need to report every action – similar initiatives can be grouped together and recorded on a programmatic level (e.g. a packaging change across a category can be reported as one line item).

To avoid double counting, your company can submit either recyclable or recycled content greenhouse gas reductions toward Project Gigaton. In general, we encourage companies to work on both increasing the recyclable and recycled content in packaging. Recycled fiber content associated with the product design (e.g., tissue, paper towel) should be reported through the Deforestation Pillar. Recycled fiber content associated with paper packaging should be reported in the Packaging Pillar.

Once data has been submitted, the greenhouse gas equivalency will be calculated using the approach outlined in Walmart’s Project Gigaton Accounting Policy.

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

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