Friday, October 24, 2008

Walmart to reduce plastic bag waste by 2013

Walmart set a pretty great goal yesterday...to reduce plastic bag waste by an average of a third by 2013 for all its stores globally.  That was cool for 3 reasons: 

1.  It will have tremendous impact (reducing bag waste by 1/3 will reduce the need for 678,000 barrels of oil). 

2.  It is focused on solutions that reduce the waste to start with (paper bags and biodegradables have a higher carbon footprint, but cutting the bags all together makes the most impact).

Third, it was especially cool to hear what Bill Clinton had to say as he announced the commitment to reduce bag waste by 1/3.  Bill said:

Wal-Mart’s commitment gets to the larger point I have been trying to hammer home like a broken record since we’ve started on this climate change thing.  All the talk in the world is fine but you must have a specific strategy.  People have to have operational plans that they can all be a part of.  Matt Kistler and the whole Wal-Mart team are geniuses at breaking big problems down into very bite-sized, chewable component parts and then chewing through it until you add it all up.  They have made breathtaking savings in reducing their greenhouse gas emissions, increasing the income of their suppliers and balancing economic growth while reducing the problem.  Walmart’s commitment gets to the larger point I have been trying to hammer home like a broken record since we’ve started on this climate change thing.  All the talk in the world is fine but you must have a specific strategy.  People have to have operational plans that they can all be a part of.  Matt Kistler and the whole Wal-Mart team are geniuses at breaking big problems down into very bite-sized, chewable component parts and then chewing through it until you add it all up.  They have made breathtaking savings in reducing their greenhouse gas emissions, increasing the income of their suppliers and balancing economic growth while reducing the problem.  Yesterday, we made an announcement that Walmart will cut its bag use by a third globally.  This is pretty cool for a lot of reasons...first 9 billion bags makes a huge impact (saves the equivalent of 678,000 barrels of oil).  Second, this is about cutting bag use, not replacing the problem with another problem (biodegradables/paper bags actually have a higher carbon footprint than normal plastic bags). 

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