Do retailers still want to use plastic bags?
Andrew Winston, a nationally recognized expert on green business, says he heard the sound of "taps" being played for the plastic shopping bag last week. Since so much of the plastics industry's efforts have gone into fighting legislative initiatives against plastic bags, it's interesting to note that Winston thinks that retailers' decisions to reduce bag use are just as significant. Winston writes on The Huffington Post blog today about a meeting that he attended in Brazil with Wal-Mart Brazil and all of its suppliers. The meeting wasn't just about plastic bags -- it was a wide-ranging discussion of Wal-Mart's sustainability goals. He notes that the company used the meeting to unveil a big national campaign, in cooperation with the Brazilian government, to drastically reduce plastic bag use. Wal-Mart's goal is to reduce bag use 50 percent by 2013. In Brazil, they are participating in an television ad campaign featuring a popular musician with the slogan "Saco E um Saco," which translates as either "A bag is a pain in the butt" or "A bag sucks." "Either way, it's a funny, yet aggressive way to get people to stop using these things," Winston notes. "All companies should take note of this kind of coordinated effort by governments and other companies -- imagine what happens if your product, manufacturing process, or sourcing strategy ends up on the societal bad list." As I've noted before, plastic bags won't be the only product facing this kind of pressure -- and Winston (who spoke last year at our Sustain '08 plastics business summit) agrees: "Bags are not the only products facing this kind of challenge -- it's happening to bottled water as well. But nothing compares to the coordinated global attack on plastic bags. Once your product is declared a pain in the butt, where do you go from there?"
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