Report from Wal-Mart Sustainability Summit: 'In it for the Long Haul'
Scott held up a box of Hamburger Helper as one example of progress, explaining how less-crinkly noodles means less waste and lower cost. "Smoother noodles mean a pasta that will settle, allowing for less air in the pouch and a smaller box for the product, reducing waste and eventually lowering overall product cost," writes Evie Blad from the Benton County Daily Record.
Scott singled out Hamburger Helper as an example of what he hoped companies could gain from the summit, to re-imagine their manufacturing processes to reduce waste and impact all the way across the supply chain, from factory to consumer.
Another major announcement came out of the summit: Scott unveiled a new, reusable shopping bag that will make their first appearances at West Coast Wal-Marts this week. The black bags, which carry the slogan "Paper or Plastic? Neither", are made of 85 percent recycled products and are designed to carry as much as two to three of the company's disposable plastic bags. When the bags reach the end of their usable life, customers can bring them back to Wal-Mart for recycling.
In addition to the announcements, the summit also featured a "Live Better Sustainability Resource Fair," where more than 40 retailers, manufacturers, nonprofits and government groups shared insights on how companies can help green their supply chains. Among the exhibitors at the summit were General Mills, makers of Hamburger Helper; SC Johnson; the World Resources Institute; TransFair, the group behind the Fair Trade certification in the U.S.; Environmental Defense; and the EPA's SmartWay Transport Partnership.
Although Wal-Mart has unveiled a series of environmental initiatives in recent months, including a goal to sell 100M compact fluorescent lightbulbs, a five-year plan to reduce packaging, "personal sustainability programs" for its employees, and an overarching sustainability goal, Scott said at the summit that it's only the beginning for his company: "We have simply started this process; we lay no claims to being a green company."
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