Wal-Mart, Procter & Gamble execs outline ambitious recycling goals

11 March 2014 18:52 Source:ICIS News

ORLANDO, Florida (ICIS)--Wal-Mart plans to use 3bn lbs of recycled material in the packaging it sells by the year 2020, the company’s head of sustainability said on Tuesday, with the key to it being closed-loop recycling systems that allow consumers to easily recycle goods.

“We know these are ambitious goals,” said Rob Kaplan, director of product sustainability for the retail chain, the world’s largest. “[But] sustainability is viewed as a key driver of our growth.”

Kaplan was speaking as part of a panel on consumer packaging at the 2014 Plastics Recycling Conference. The conference, which concludes on Thursday, has participants from 40 US, six Canadian provinces and more than two dozen countries.

Kaplan said that Wal-Mart’s ambitious goals to create renewable consumer packaging will have other affects as well. The initiative could create 15,000 new jobs and reduce greenhouse gases by 3m tonnes, he said.

The first step towards creating more renewable packaging is getting people to recycle, Kaplan said. The US has an overall recycling rate of roughly 34%, according to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). Such a low rate hinders large recycling efforts, panellists said.

“Unfortunately, just because we ask for more recycled content doesn’t mean it will be available,” Kaplan said.

That sentiment was echoed by Procter & Gamble (P&G), which also has ambitious goals to improve the amount of material the consumer goods company uses.

“We definitely want PCR [post-consumer recycled) material,” said Steve Sikra, P&G’s head of sustainability, packaging, recycling and research and development.

P&G hopes to have 25% of its products made by renewable materials by the year 2020, he said.

By Andrew Guy Jr