Walmart announced they will be asking their suppliers 15 simple questions about how they produced the product and packaging. The questions fall into 4 categories:

  • Energy and Climate: Reducing Energy Costs and Greenhouse Gas Emissions
  • Material Efficiency: Reducing Waste and Enhancing Quality
  • Natural Resources: Producing High Quality, Responsibly Sourced Raw Materials
  • People and Community: Ensuring Responsible and Ethical Production

This is an effort to help to create a sustainability index number to provide customers with product information in a simple, convenient, easy to understand rating, so they can make choices and consume in a more sustainable way.

So what does this mean to the packaging industry?

Those companies who provide structural materials and graphic design will need to know and understand these 15 questions and how they contribute to their customers’ answers as suppliers to Walmart.

I work with several companies in Northeast Ohio who create and execute packaging that ends up on Walmart’s shelves.

Using local resources for printing helps to reduce the amount of gas used and the amount of exhaust from shipping over seas. Using recycled materials and printing with soy based inks is just the beginning.

Knowing how to make a package appealing to the consumer so it passes the 5 second test on the shelf has been something packaging companies have always excelled at, but now really focusing on the sustainability impact of the packaging is will be a very important skill set for graphic design and package design companies who are creating packaging for branded consumer packaged goods companies.

I predict that graphic designers and packaging designers everywhere are learning more about production of packaging. With Walmart’s 800 pound gorilla status at retail, their 15 questions have the potential to shake up the packaging industry as much as LEED certification from the US Green Building Council has shook up the construction industry.

78 Design House, a graphic design and packaging company, recently moved from Akron to Tallmadge into a historic building right near the famous Tallmadge Circle.

With 15 Questions Walmart Shakes Up the Packaging Industry

4 thoughts on “With 15 Questions Walmart Shakes Up the Packaging Industry

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  • Wednesday, July 29, 2009 at 1:45 pm
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    It is much more complicated to track down the entire ‘chain’ of consumer packaging production/design than meets the eye. Just starting with the paperboard and other raw substrates that are used is difficult at best. Just a handful of paperboard manufacturers are SFI certified which limits the type of board you can use to be compliant at that level. Do this on a global scale and it now becomes a very complicated puzzle to unravel.

    Smart companies are designing packaging to meet the demands of their global market and reducing the number of overall SKUs. Printing and manufacturing of packaging is limited to the companies supply chain. It is easy to monitor ‘local’ printers on a micro level.

    At the end of the day, I suspect that the deep dive monitoring of the packaging itself will be last on a long list of priorities.

  • Wednesday, July 29, 2009 at 3:37 pm
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    Phil:
    You’re not kidding, it’s really very hard to trace everything back.

    As far as being at the end of the priority list… I agree, unless Walmart really pushes hard on this. Then everyone will know their numbers like they are their phone number, birthday or address put together. Just depends on how important it is.

    Chris

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