Wal-Mart’s Packaging and Sustainability Objectives

Packaging gives major opportunities for decreasing energy use and greenhouse gases, and for saving the $4 billion worth of goods that now ends up in landfills,” said Matt Hale, director of the agency’s Office of Solid Waste.

But when it attempted shipping toys, plates and other non-eatable items to its restaurants in biodegradable packages, the firm found they could not stand the heat inside the trucks (Lewis and Jordan, 2005). And it had to make use of more virgin fiber to get the whiteness of its food bags.

Packages that at first seem to be environmentally sound can cause other issues. When bottles and other materials made of bio-based plastics such as polyactic acid are recycled together with conventional plastic bottles, they make a mix of molecules which are difficult to reuse. Reusable items and containers, either stainless steel canisters or refillable glass bottles, need a lot of energy to take and to clean for reuse. Consumer behavior comes with its own challenges, since smaller packages can look to be more expensive than those with a lot packaging (Lewis and Jordan, 2005).

Coke lately designed its classic glass contour bottles to be more impact resistant and lighter. The new bottle looks smaller. “Our challenge is persuading clients that they are receiving the same volume in a better bottle,” said Scott Vitters, Coke’s environmental manager.

Jeffery of Nestlé Waters stated that the firm would begin an “education” campaign around the new bottles to “ensure that clients don’t think the bottles less heavy because they hold little water.”

And normaly, aesthetics will trump environmentalism in the end, anyway. That recycled aluminum that Estée Lauder fought so hard for does not look good, and some of the brands, including Clinique, can’t to use it.


James, K., Lewis, H., Jordan, R., Fitzpatrick, L. and Sonneveld, K. 2005, Industrial packaging  supply chains creating links and achieving change, Report to EcoRecycle Victoria, Sustainable Packaging Alliance, Melbourne.