Focus on packaging

Measuring our progress

Our sustainable packaging scorecard continues to drive our suppliers' efforts to reduce, reuse and recycle the packaging of the products sold in our stores and clubs. As a result, we have seen significant improvement in the way that packaging is developed and deployed by our suppliers. Their constant focus on the seven "R"s of packaging (remove, reduce, reuse, recycle, renew, revenue, read) has helped our merchants offer our customers better choices in products as diverse as soft drinks and yogurt, toilet tissue and dish soap, flat-screen televisions and apparel.


We have made a commitment to reduce our packaging 5 percent by 2013, using a 2008 baseline. Part of the challenge in achieving this goal is determining the most meaningful way to measure our progress. Using a conventional metric, such as total weight or volume of packaging, fails to account for changes in the total number of our stores, and neglects the impact of our growth in sales. In addition, different jurisdictions require different levels of data reporting, resulting in distinct record-keeping requirements for many of our international markets.


By focusing on our customers, we have determined that the most meaningful way to measure the sustainability impact of our packaging is to consider the greenhouse gas emissions required for each unit of packaging material that is required for each usage of the products we sell. This measurement, otherwise known as GHG/CMUM (consumers' meaningful unit of measure), is already widely used in the packaging industry, and many of our suppliers are familiar with this method. This transition will allow us to clearly identify emissions that result from our packaging and help merchants drive improvement.


We have placed particular emphasis on rolling out our sustainable packaging scorecard and methodology to our international markets. More than 627,000 items for sale in our stores and clubs have been entered in the scorecard, which is an increase of 90 percent over 2009. Our ongoing packaging reduction efforts will be rooted in driving customer value and greenhouse gas reductions across our product categories.

U.S.: In 2010, our eight major sheet programs and all of our fabric tablecloths transitioned away from PVC packaging. In addition, our Member's Mark® protective underwear is now packaged in flexible bundles rather than corrugated boxes. This new format resulted in a 73 percent reduction in total packaging weight, more than 1.3 million pounds of corrugated paper. This greatly simplified our logistics and reduced the total number of incoming pallets of packaging by over 90 percent.


U.K.: Since 2005, ASDA has reduced the weight of its product packaging by 27 percent. One of several packaging wins introduced in 2010 was our cartonless ASDA brand toothpaste. By removing a traditional carton, we have realized a 50 percent reduction in packaging. This innovation earned "Highly Commended" Sustainable Pack of the Year recognition at the U.K. Packaging Awards in 2010. ASDA also became the first U.K. retailer to trial a refillable container for fabric conditioner. This product can be reused up to 10 times, uses 96 percent less packaging and saves customers £3.70 (USD $5.80) over the life of the product. The initiative was awarded the "Innovation of the Year" Award at the U.K. Packaging Awards in 2010.


Brazil: In May 2010, we launched Good Price (Bom Preço), our line of about 230 food items and cleaning supplies available in our supermarket and hypermarket formats. For example, the packaging of a Bom Preço lightbulb has been reduced by 20 percent.