Walmart Inc. plans to spend $350 billion over the next 10 years on products made, grown and assembled in the United States.
Plastics is among the six areas where the Bentonville, Ark.-based company will buy more U.S.-made products to support American jobs. The rest of the mass retailer's list also touches on the plastics industry: textiles; small electrical appliances; food processing; pharmaceutical and medical supplies; and goods not for resale, such as fixtures and janitorial supplies.
The environment will benefit, too, according to John Furner, president and CEO of Walmart U.S., who announced the initiatives March 3.
"This commitment will mean a few more impacts, including an estimated 100 million metric tons of CO2 emissions avoided by sourcing closer to our customers," Furner said.
Walmart will increase its support for small businesses and diverse suppliers, and provide an opportunity for 9,000 entrepreneurs to become suppliers through annual open call events, he said.
The last open call, held in October, was a virtual event where some 800 small businesses pitched U.S.-made products during 30-minute, one-on-one meetings with Walmart and Sam's Club buyers. More than 175 businesses advanced to the next stages, which lead to store shelves.
Harry Moser, founder and president of the Reshoring Initiative, said he has attended Walmart open calls and met many suppliers that obtained business through the program.
Moser told Plastics News in an email that the three best plastics-related business opportunities will involve products with some of the following characteristics:
• Require almost no assembly labor after molding. The manufacturing cost difference should then be less than the extra offshoring costs, such as duty and freight, Moser said.
• Anything with a 25 percent tariff imposed by the administration of former President Donald Trump.
• Products that cannot be packed densely, so the freight cost is high vs. the manufacturing cost.
Moser said the Reshoring Initiative has a free online estimator to approximate the extra costs of offshoring.
"The Reshoring Initiative can also identify other companies, retailers or OEMs that import a lot of what a plastics producer makes," Moser added, pointing to the group's Import Substitution Program.
In addition to new domestic products, Walmart is looking for ways to improve the U.S. supply chain.
"The aim is to bring U.S. manufacturing back in a sustainable, long-term way," Furner said.
To that end, Walmart launched an effort called "American Lighthouses" to identify the top-down barriers to U.S. production. The company will bring together the stakeholders in key regions to light the way to overcome the barriers, Furner said.
"U.S. manufacturing really matters," he added. "It matters to our suppliers, to entrepreneurs and to the environment. It matters to our customers — more than 85 percent of which have said it's important for us to carry products made or assembled in the U.S. And most of all, because of the jobs it brings, it matters to American communities and the people who live in them."
The mass retailer launched its Made in the USA effort in 2013, pledging at the time to spend an additional $250 billion on U.S.-made products over 10 years.