In the past decade, Wal-Mart Superstores have set the standard for the way that bulk purchasing power can provide consumers with lower prices. Unfortunately, the Wal-Mart corporation has also set the standard excessive consumption, low quality foods and wasted resources.
However, the past few years have seen the retail giant taking purposeful, albeit small steps in the direction of greater efficiency, energy conservation, and most recently, recycling.
According to a report by Supermarket News, Wal-Mart is “turning cardboard waste collected from its stores into boxes for its private-label take and bake pizzas.”
Although many people can recite the three R’s (reduce, reuse, recycle) without hesitation, many fail to realize that recycling is only an effective process when manufacturers choose to include recycled content in their products, and consumers make a conscious decision to purchase products that include post-consumer recycled waste.
Packaging used by Wal-Mart to sell it’s frozen pizzas sends around 8,600 tons of cardboard waste to the landfill each year, and closing the recycling loop to both collect and reuse the waste carboard will save an estimated 125,000 trees and 40 million gallons of water each year.
“We’ve totally and literally closed the loop using a retailer’s own boxes to go through a paper mill and then to make corrugated boxes out of those same things again is something that’s the future,” Myles Cohen, president of the recycling division for Pratt Industries, told Supermarket News.
Pratt Industries will be responsible for collecting bales of the recyclable corrugated cardboard from participating Wal-Mart locations, and turning it into pulp which can then be used to make cardboard and assembled into boxes.
News of this Wal-Mart recycling initiative comes close on the heels of an announcment earlier this month that Wal-Mart Canada has launched a recycling program that reuses Styrofoam packaging from eight Wal-Mart locations for production of commercial insulation.
Of course, no amount of recycling can atone for the fact that Wal-Mart’s inexpensive food is often highly processed, and they are responsible for pushing many small farmers and local grocery retailers out of business.
However in order to achieve the lofty emissions and waste reduction goals that have been set for this decade, it will be necessary for large scale retailers like Wal-Mart to get on board in any capacity possible.
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