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07/06/2022

Walmart Is Recognizing Sustainable Manufacturing With Tech Showcase and Awards

Liz Dominguez
Managing Editor
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Sustainability efforts across the business lifecycle

Walmart is taking its Circular Connector one step further. 

First launched in April 2022, the public initiative hoped to connect Walmart and anyone looking for solutions with sustainable packaging innovations.

Now the company is hoping to accelerate this search by collaborating with the U.S. Plastic Pact to launch the Innovation Awards, which will inspire new solutions and provide innovators with a platform to test their ideas. 

Companies interested in submitting their packaging solutions into the Circular Connector can do so before August 12. To be considered, they must serve the U.S. market and must meet the standards of three categories:

  1. Recyclability: Meets design for recyclability in U.S. systems (i.e., meets the Association of Plastic Recyclers Preferred Design Guidelines, How2Recycle Guidelines, contains no problematic or unnecessary plastic packaging), supports the transition from non-recyclable to recyclable and/or meets Walmart’s Recycling Playbook Recyclable “Green” Pages(s)
  2. Reuse/Refill: Where packaging is refilled or reused for the same purpose it was originally sold
  3. Compostability: Meets the Biodegradable Products Institute’s composting certification standards

The judging criteria will also include sustainable sourcing, virgin plastic reduction, and material health. 

Winners will be able to participate in manufacturing trial conversations with Walmart, as well as partake in four, 30-minute mentoring sessions with Walmart’s private brand packaging teams. There will also be several opportunities for promotions and marketing, with assets running through the U.S. Plastic Pact channels and sustainability conferences, on the Sustainable Packaging podcast, as well as through a tech showcase with the U.S Plastic Pact. 

[Read more: Walmart’s App Gets Augmented Reality Revamp]

The U.S. Plastic Pact gathers more than 850 organizations including Walmart to ensure that plastics do not become waste, eliminating the plastics no longer needed and innovating to help make plastics reusable, recyclable, or compostable. 

Winners will be announced in fall 2022. Companies interested in submitting can visit the Circular Connector.

More Sustainability Efforts Ahead?

Walmart is undergoing a massive transformation to make its business more sustainable across the full enterprise. 

Just last month, the company announced it would be focusing on transportation efficiency and sustainability, particularly last mile delivery fleet and Class 8 transportation, as part of its goal to achieve zero emissions across global operations by 2040. 

“Today I’m excited to share more about our zero-emissions transportation strategy and announce a series of collaborations and pilots,” said Fernando Cortes, Walmart’s senior vice president of Transportation at the time of the announcement. “Many of these initiatives are first-of-their kind for Walmart and will be pivotal in moving us towards a zero emissions future, while being instructive to the entire transportation industry.”

[Related: 5 Green Practices for Retailers That Work]

The company also launched vertical farming initiatives to support traditional farming practices, which should help increase food supply and alleviate food system challenges in a sustainable way.

Last year, Walmart also created a supply chain finance program that not only enables greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions reductions, but also uses science-based targets to do so in a way that aims for a 1.5-degree Celsius pathway. In April, the retailer stated it was more than halfway toward its goal to reduce or avoid 1 billion metric tons (a gigaton) of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions from product supply chains by 2030 as part of this initiative.

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