Wal-Mart finds sustainability success in pizza boxes

by Jeff Gelski
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BENTONVILLE, ARK. — Wal-Mart Stores Inc. reported success stories in recycled pizza boxes and a Chinese farm program Nov. 12 in a global sustainability milestone meeting in Bentonville.

More than 200,000 Chinese farmers have joined a Wal-Mart program designed to boost sustainable agriculture, said Leslie Dach, an executive vice-president for the Bentonville-based company. Wal-Mart expects the program to include 275,000 Chinese farmers by the end of this year and 1 million Chinese farmers by the end of 2011.

The program is designed to provide Chinese consumers with local produce, to reduce pesticide use and to lower the carbon footprint of growing and selling produce. The farmers receive technical support and more market access for their products.

Wal-Mart has partnered with Pratt Industries to make the recycled pizza boxes, which have saved 125,000 trees and reduced water use by 40 million gallons, according to Wal-Mart. A Pratt Industries facility in Valparaiso, Ind., takes corrugated boxes already used in Wal-Mart outlets and turns them into boxes for take-and-bake pizzas sold at Wal-Mart delis.

Last summer Wal-Mart sent a 15-item questionnaire to 100,000 global suppliers that asked about their current sustainability practices. Questions were divided into four areas: energy and climate, natural resources, material efficiency, and people and community. A vast majority of top-tier suppliers had responded by the end of October, said Matt Kistler, a senior vice-president for Wal-Mart.

Mr. Dach added that since Wal-Mart this year took on efforts to reach sustainability goals, the corporation’s scores have improved in a Covalence ethical quotation system, which tracks the ethical reputation of multinationals by sourcing information from the media, civil society and companies.

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