Walmarts Circular Connector: Meet the 2022 Sustainable Packaging Innovation Award Winners

Democratizing climate action has long been a part of how Bentonville-based Walmart builds sustainability programs such as Project Gigaton or the Circular Connector. The retailer collaborates with partners to create action, whether that’s to advance circular solutions, accelerate collaborations on renewable energy and zero waste or to enable more ambitious goal setting with Walmart’s ambitious Project Gigaton. Tod, we joined the U.S. Plastics Pact at GreenBiz’s VERGE 2022 conference to announce the inaugural Sustainable Packaging Innovations Award winners.

Walmart donated the use of our recently launched Circular Connector platform to help capture innovations for these awards. The award winners cover four key categories: recycling, reuse, composting and reduction. And each winner spotlights either scalability, low-cost efficiencies or a customer-first proposal. Congratulations to the winners!

In April, Walmart launched phase one of the Circular Connector, inviting innovators to submit their solutions for Walmart’s consideration. Solutions are screened against Walmart’s Sustainable Packaging goals and those that are aligned featured in the Connector. In October, Walmart made the Circulate Connector available for free to everyone via Walmart’s Sustainability Hub. And now, nearly 150 solutions are publicly available on the Circular Connector.

Scaling Packaging Innovations

The hope of making Circular Connector open source is that it propels companies to move faster to make design changes that will help create a circular economy for plastics, even our direct competitors. Sustainable packaging changes can’t happen in a silo and require lifecycle thinking. Today we still have packages that can cause confusion for customers: Is it recyclable? Compostable? Wait…I need to remove a label before it can be recycled? And on and on.

At Walmart’s recent 2022 Milestone Sustainability Summit, Walmart President and CEO Doug McMillon said, “Our job is to design everything that we do in a way that the path of least resistance is the more sustainable or regenerative approach.” That is the mindset shift we are working on with our suppliers, our NGO partners and others. Companies have the power to design packages that can help reduce the use of plastics and improve circularity.

Companies who are silently asking how they could get their hands on a sustainable packaging solution should use Circular Connector to source their next innovation. We cannot wait any longer. The ideas are here. Let’s scale them.

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By Published On: November 13th, 2022

About the Author: Christopher Durham

Christopher Durham is the president of the Velocity Institute. Prior to this he founded the groundbreaking site My Private Brand. He is the co-founder of The Vertex Awards. He began his retail career building brands at Food Lion and Lowe’s Home Improvement. Durham has worked with retailers around the world, including Albertsons, Family Dollar, Petco, Staples, Office Depot, Best Buy, Metro Canada. Durham has published seven definitive books on private brands, including Fifty2: The My Private Brand Project and Vanguard: Vintage Originals.