Walmart expo to highlight sustainable packaging solutions

John Kalkowski

January 30, 2014

3 Min Read
Walmart expo to highlight sustainable packaging solutions
Sustainability expo

Packagers planning to attend Walmart's sixth annual Sustainable Packaging Expo all have a story to tell the giant company's merchant buyers and the consumer packaged goods companies (CPGs) that supply them. That message centers around how the packagers can help both groups meet the industry's ambitious sustainability goals using products and services that have a proven record.


The expo will be held April 13-14 at the John Q. Hammons Convention in Rogers, AR, just miles from the Walmart headquarters in nearby Bentonville. This year's event is expected to draw about 200 exhibitors and nearly 2,000 participants, Ron Sasine, Walmart senior director for private label packaging, tells Packaging Digest. 

The number of suppliers exhibiting is about 10 percent ahead of 2010, says Amy Zettlemoyer-Lazar, senior director of packaging and supplier diversity. Their target audience includes Walmart and Sam's Club associates, buyers and product suppliers, she says, adding that Walmart welcomes packaging professionals, logistics and manufacturing personnel as well as salespeople from its current product suppliers, who can obtain invitations to the expo through the Walmart buyers with whom they work. "The expo is targeted so our buyers and product suppliers can walk through together and be able to make some decisions on the spot," she added.

Each exhibitor is a current supplier to Walmart. All of them have been asked to relate the details of how one of their products has contributed to a sustainable practice, with before-and-after details. Their summaries are audited by EPI, a sustainability consultant that has worked with Walmart on development of its packaging scorecard, which makes sure the summaries clearly communicate the success story and comply with the FTC's "Green Guidelines."

While many exhibitors are from large, international suppliers, Zettelemoyer-Lazar says, a number will also represent smaller packaging companies. She explains that the sustainability expo offers these smaller companies an opportunity to meet with representatives of larger consumer packaged goods companies to whom they may not otherwise be able to gain access.

Sasine said the show is now closed to additional exhibitors, as the space has essentially been sold out. All Walmart and Sam's Club associates are invited to attend, and they are encouraged to invite their suppliers. Sasine points out that CPGs who are current Walmart suppliers should try to make sure they have representatives at the expo. Many of them already have representative offices in the Northwest Arkansas area to serve their Walmart accounts. The closest airport is Northwest Arkansas in Fayetteville. However, visitors can also fly into Fort Smith; Tulsa, OK; or Springfield, MO; and drive to Rogers.

In addition to the packaging exhibits, Walmart once again will conduct educational sessions for attendees. Among the most popular, Sasine says, are those that address success stories of packaging already on the shelf in Walmart and Sam's Club stores. The program also will include sessions on such topics as innovation in packaging, life cycle assessment and the FTC's Green Guidelines, which layout ways to accurately market products using sustainability claims.

The day before the expo begins, Walmart also will have a meeting of its Sustainability Value Network, which brings together leaders from the company, supplier companies, academia, government, and non-governmental organizations to help integrate sustainable practices into all parts of Walmart's business.

For further information about the Sustainable Packaging Expo, visit



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