High demand by Wal-Mart Stores Inc. suppliers for information about its sustainable packaging score card has prompted the company to expand training.
Eleven separate January and February sessions will be held in Arkansas, Illinois and New Jersey, according to officials from firms connected with the training. Previously, the daylong classes were conducted solely near Wal-Mart's Bentonville, Ark., headquarters.
Efficient Collaborative Retail Marketing of Solon, Ohio, and Mars Packaging Knowledge Group of Southfield, Mich., are co-presenting the training.
``We recognize there's a larger need for training for suppliers, so they can have a greater understanding of what the score card contains,'' said Charles Walsh, ECRM manager of sustainability and business solutions, in a Jan. 4 telephone interview.
The classes give participants an overview of Wal-Mart's sustainability goals while helping attendees understand the significance of their companies' efforts.
Sessions include score-card calculation demonstrations, efficient package input and cube utilization, category comparisons and explanations on how package scores can affect purchasing decisions.
Wal-Mart introduced the score card in 2006. The initiative, which begins Feb. 1, gives Wal-Mart executives and buyers the ability to grade suppliers and make buying decisions based on the scores, with the expectation of reducing the retail firm's overall packaging by 5 percent by 2013.
The score card is based around what Wal-Mart touts as the seven R's of sustainability: remove, reduce, reuse, recycle, renew, revenue and read.
The system allows suppliers to rate themselves, with 15 percent of the score based on material value, 15 percent on product/packaging ratio, 15 percent on cube utilization, 15 percent on greenhouse-gas emissions, 10 percent on recycled content, 10 percent on recovery value, 10 percent on transportation, 5 percent on renewable energy and 5 percent on innovation.
Suppliers can see where they stack up against their peers, and they will be rated for packaging innovation, environmental standards, energy efficiency and material use.
In a Jan. 4 phone interview, Mars Packaging President Jane Severin said the looming implementation of Wal-Mart's score card has had a huge effect on suppliers.
``It's definitely shaping behavior,'' she said. ``I don't want to say `revolutionary,' but it's dramatic.''
Under pressure to bring their packaging up to Wal-Mart standards, product manufacturers are passing questions about packaging content on to suppliers.
Lauren Kinard, communications manager for the Flexible Packaging Association in Linthicum, Md., said in a Jan. 7 e-mail that the most common question flexible packaging manufacturers have about the score card relates to multilayer laminations.
``The score card asks for the `majority' material in a multilayer package, and in some cases determining the `majority' material will take some calculating,'' she said.
FPA has developed guidelines to assist in making those calculations, she said.
Wal-Mart officials did not return calls seeking comment. Thefirm's www.scorecardlibrary.com Web site gives suppliers an online demonstration of package modeling software.
At www.packaging.marketgate.com, a packaging supplier virtual trade show helps product makers find packaging firms to help them make improvements and conserve resources more effectively.