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.
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 consider your goal, make sure to check out the Project Gigaton Calculators, which may help you identify potential goal areas in each pillar and estimate the emissions impact of your work.
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)
- How will you calculate and report emissions saved each year?
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 every pillar you report to, you’ll be asked to submit the impact of improvements you’ve achieved in the reporting year. There are three options for submitting data to Project Gigaton reporting:
Option 1: For companies that need help calculating the greenhouse gas impact of their initiatives, let the Project Gigaton Calculators help! These calculators are available to help you report your progress during the annual Project Gigaton reporting period. They may also help you identify and estimate the emissions impact of future Project Gigaton goals.
Option 2: 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 all CC4.3b fields must be completed in your CDP disclosure.
Option 3: For companies that do not use the Project Gigaton Calculators or 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.