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Walmart Exec Shares  Sustainability Lessons

During Sunday’s keynote address, representatives from Walmart Stores, Inc., offered attendees special insight into how the world’s largest retailer is striving to improve the sustainability of its packaging practices—and driving its business partners to do the same.

In its presentation entitled, “Keeping Score: How Walmart and its Suppliers Continue to Advance Packaging Change, Innovation and Sustainability,” Amy Zettlemoyer-Lazar, packaging director of Sam’s Club and packaging manager Robert Parvis, explained the company’s “sustainability scorecard,” a tool the company’s vendors, buyers and other partners use to improve the environmental friendliness of product packaging.

First introduced at PACK EXPO International 2006, the scorecard was designed as part of Walmart’s three-pronged, overlying sustainability goals: To be supplied by 100-percent-renewable energy, to produce zero waste and to offer sustainable products to its customers. Packaging plays a significant part in this plan—the company aims to reduce packaging on all products it offers by 5 percent by 2013.

According to Parvis, in the two years since its implementation, Walmart’s scorecard has led to notable improvements in several offered at Sam’s Club. Zettlemoyer-Lazar gave attendees a glimpse at the road ahead for Walmart’s sustainability scorecard. Zettlemoyer-Lazar, Parvis and other members of Walmart’s packaging brain trust will work to lay out more specific sustainability goals for the company, and requirements for its vendors. The move will enable more accurate measurement of a specific product package’s environmental friendliness.

“We want these goals and standards to be clear, specific and meaningful,” she said, adding that the company will reveal its future direction at the Walmart Sustainable Packaging Expo on April 13, 2009, in Bentonville, AR.

Zettlemoyer-Lazar also is co-manager of the Walmart Sustainability Value Networks (SVNs), which are designed to help integrate sustainable practices into all aspects of its business by bringing together reps from the company, suppliers, educational institutions, government and other organizations. The parties collaborate to develop business practices that benefit Walmart, and local and global communities. In addition to the packaging SVN, the company also has SVNs focusing on sustainable building, alternative fuels, logistics and other areas. According to the company, the collective efforts of various SVNs have made strides to improve energy use and efficiency, reduced and recycled waste, and increased introduction of environmentally friendly and organic products.

PACK EXPO International 2008 runs November 9-13 at McCormick Place, Chicago, IL USA. 

To find out more, go to Packaging Digest’s PACK EXPO website.

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