Wal-Mart Stores Inc. is making progress toward its goal of using fewer plastic shopping bags, but the company has not found an alternative to PVC in its private-brand packaging.
The Bentonville-based retail giant on May 13 gave an annual update on its sustainability efforts, which it launched in 2005. The effort is broader than packaging it also covers goals that call for improving the efficiency of its buildings and trucking fleet, sending less waste to landfills, and providing customers with more product choices that can reduce their impact on the environment by saving energy, water and money.
On some plastics-specific packaging goals, the company reported progress on one front, but not on another.
Wal-Mart has set a goal to reduce the weight of its global plastic shopping bag waste by an average of 33 percent per store by 2013. In 2009, the company reduced its waste by about 66.5 million pounds, or about 4.8 billion bags, which represents a 16.1 percent reduction from its 2007 baseline.
In January, the company started a test program by only offering reusable bags at three California stores. Instead of plastic bags, customers can choose to bring their own reusable bag or purchase a reusable bag for 15 cents or a larger reusable bag for 50 cents, according to the report.
We have expanded the number of stores in California that feature the 15-cent bag and are monitoring customer reactions, the report said.
The company is seeing a greater reduction in bag use in China, where it has reduced plastic bag waste by more than 69 percent, according to the report.
On the PVC packaging front, however, Wal-Mart said it has still not achieved its goal, which was to eliminate PVC from private-brand packaging in the U.S. by October 2007.
While we continue to look for alternatives to PVC, we have been unable to find suitable replacements for PVC in packaging such as over-the-counter, tamper-evident bands, metal can sealants and meat wrapping, among others, the report said.
Until we identify another material of equal performance, we will not eliminate PVC from certain items to ensure safety and performance for our customers.
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