Wal-Mart Aims for 70% Cut in Detergent Phosphates

Wal-Mart Stores said yesterday it planned to reduce phosphates in laundry and dish detergents in the Americas region by 70 percent by 2011. The company also said it would step up its goal toward more sustainable packaging in the Americas by reducing packaging by 5 percent by the close of 2013.

The news came during the company’s quarterly sustainability milestone meeting, held to track Wal-Mart’s progress in several environmental arenas. Wal-Mart suppliers and associates from around the world attended the event at the Wal-Mart Home Office in Bentonville, Ark., and watched via Webcast. Attendees also heard from architect and designer Bill McDonough on the importance of product and supply chain innovation.

A common water pollutant that can damage aquatic ecosystems by stimulating the growth of oxygen-depleting algae, phosphates are a major contributor to phosphate-based water pollution.

“Our reach around the world puts us in a unique position to drive sustainable change across national boundaries and into the global supply chain,” said Craig Herkert, Wal-Mart president and CEO of the Americas. “By further coordinating efforts throughout the region and sharing best practices, we believe we can help our customers save money on the products they need, while improving communities and the environment.”

Added Matt Kistler, Wal-Mart svp, sustainability, “Together with governments, our suppliers and customers, we are making great strides in lessening our impact on the environment.”

As part of its sustainable packaging initiative, Wal-Mart will bring its U.S.-initiated packaging scorecard to the Americas by the end of 2009. The scorecard helps Wal-Mart buyers make more informed purchasing decisions and enables the company to move toward its goal of creating zero waste and dramatically increasing the number of environmentally friendly products. Additionally, the company will roll out a Sustainable Value Network (SVN) to focus on reduced packaging in each market. The SVN will unite leaders from Wal-Mart, supplier companies, academia, government and nongovernmental organizations to look into challenges and come up with solutions that benefit business and communities.

Wal-Mart Americas, which includes Canada, Puerto Rico, Mexico, Central America, Brazil, Argentina, has more than 2,300 stores in 10 markets and employs more than 364,000 associates, is the company’s second-largest business unit, after Wal-Mart’s U.S. business.