Walmart, Loblaw Remove PVCs from Private Label Thermoform Packaging
July 19, 2012
Due to the work of Walmart Canada and a group of several other retailers, associations and suppliers, clamshells and blister packs – also known as thermoforms -- are now being recycled with bottles in Ontario. Previously the packaging was sent to landfills because of its PVC content.
“At one time you actually had to pay to have the material taken away. The idea was if we could recycle the thermoforms and clamshells with the bottles, we estimated that the value of that material was between $300 and $600 per ton,” said Guy McGuffin, vice president of sustainable packaging for Walmart Canada, at the company’s sixth annual Sustainable Packaging Conference held in Toronto. “I’m happy to tell you that this is actually happening today through Ontario. Clamshells and blister packs are being recycled with bottles, which has a value of $585 a ton.”
McGuffin’s presentation outlined the progress of Canada’s material optimization project, as well as his company’s own sustainable packaging accomplishments. At Walmart Canada alone, PVC has been removed from all in store private label thermoform packaging, transitioning to PET, he said, noting that the retailer also removed all fluorescent additives that were in the plastic packaging as well.
McGuffin lauded two competitors involved in the material optimization project – Loblaw and Metro. Loblaw removed PVC from 115 of its items and transitioned 250 items from other packaging materials to PET. Meanwhile Metro has committed to eliminating PVC in its rigid plastic packaging and will transition polystyrene to PET. Also involved in the industry collaboration are Retail Council of Canada, Stewardship Ontario and the Association of Post Consumer Recyclers (APR) and the National Association for PET recyclers.
When the group first embarked on the project, several barriers were identified -- look-alike materials, materials in thermoforms that were not recyclable (such as PVC and PLA), , label adhesives that were not recycling friendly, as well as fluorescents used in some packaging “which was a problem for the end-market users for that material,” McGuffin said.
One of the objectives was to develop a protocol for recycling-friendly label adhesives, which has been developed. “There are now 12 different adhesives that are on the APR website that are approved for use for thermoform containers to make that packaging more easily recyclable,” McGuffin said.
There are currently 78 municipalities in Ontario that are collecting thermoforms for recycling, and by the end of next year the industry group expects that 75 percent of the municipalities will be collecting thermoform containers.
“So if we can recycle all of the thermoform containers in North America, the size of the prize is $1.6 billion in market value for that material if we can get $600 a ton for it,” McGuffin said. “And we can also reduce greenhouse gasses by 3.8 million metric tons. These are some pretty big numbers and we want to encourage all of you to get behind this initiative.”
Broadly, Walmart Canada wants to maximize recycled content in its packaging without compromising product protection, using renewable resources “without compromising existing recycling streams and without compromising product protection and food safety.”
“We’re going to continue to reduce greenhouse gasses over time, but we want to also increase recycled content and increase renewable content over time,” McGuffin said.
GRD Views: Kudos to the Canadian retailers who worked together to make this happen. This initiative is a worthy endeavor that we hope others in North America will follow. In fact, it’s becoming clearer to me that U.S. retailers can learn from their Canadian colleagues in numerous areas of green retailing.-- John Failla for Green Retail Decisions
- Marks & Spencer Builds Green Packaging into Beauty Care Line
- Whole Foods Expands Green Packaging, Beginning With Private Label
- Sainsbury's Reduces Milk Packaging by 75 Percent
« View All Articles
Areas of focus included making the business case for sustainability, leadership development and radical collaboration.
Source: Food Marketing Institute
A new FMI toolkit offers concise, customizable strategic language to help executives effectively articulate the business case for sustainability in less than 60 seconds.
Source: Food Marketing Institute
FMI, GMA and the National Restaurant Association are developing an aggressive strategy that will direct more edible food to the hungry and waste away from landfills.
Source: Food Marketing InstituteSee All Guest Columns »
Source: Avery Dennison
Source: Port of Seattle
In Our Spotlight
Send a News Tip