When you set a goal to reduce, recycle or reuse everything, then packaging really has to change. Walmart has pledged to cut back on packaging all across the supply chain. Those of us on the “apparel packaging” team knew we could make a big difference, so we stepped in to help.
We zeroed in on footwear. You may not have heard of “replenishment boxes,” but 30 million of them flow through our U.S. supply chain every year. These boxes ship loose footwear not sold in traditional shoeboxes, serving as a carrier and protecting them from dust and other elements. Suppliers usually provide their own boxes, in various types and sizes that are often wasteful. Clearly, this was a huge opportunity for our team.
We took over ownership of box production and set two goals: minimize waste while standardizing material specification. The box was redesigned using 43 percent LESS paper, and saving 28 percent in costs.
In the first 10 months of 2011, about 14.4 million boxes were produced, which equates to a savings of 692 tons of paper. To put that in perspective, that’s the environmental equivalent of more than 2,500 trees! Other environmental savings? More than 400,000 pounds of solid waste, 2.4 million gallons of water and 14,500 million BTU’s.
We love making a difference on this kind of scale, and we are hard at work identifying the next opportunity!