Walmart has entered a multiyear pact to package fresh produce in reusable plastic containers (RPCs) from IFCO Systems.
Tampa, Fla.-based IFCO said Monday that, under the seven-year deal, Walmart suppliers will deliver their produce to Walmart locations using IFCO RPCs. Each RPC will be retrieved after each use and then cleaned, washed, sanitized and wrapped before being reused. The RPCs can be used up to 100 times before being reground into new RPCs.
The new agreement makes IFCO Walmart’s exclusive RPC packaging provider for selected fresh fruits and vegetables distributed in the United States. IFCO noted that deal builds on a collaboration with Walmart since 1998, when the companies partnered to introduce reusable packaging in the U.S.
“Walmart is committed to providing its shoppers with high-quality, safe, nutritious and affordable fresh food produced sustainably,” Martin Mundo, senior vice president for produce and global produce sourcing at Walmart. “Our new agreement with IFCO helps us deliver on that promise by creating a fresh food supply chain that is more efficient and more sustainable from beginning to end.”
IFCO's reusable packaging is expected to bring 'significant increases' in product shelf life and food waste reduction at Walmart. (IFCO)
Along with the creation of U.S.-based manufacturing jobs for RPC production and processing, the program will drive improvements across the fresh food supply chain, according to IFCO. That includes efficiencies from standardization and modularity plus “significant increases” in product shelf life and food waste reduction, the company said.
In addition, the RPC program stands to bring innovations in RPC tracking technology. IFCO said it has added features to its RPC pool that will sharpen the visibility of assets in the Walmart network and spur future innovations in product traceability.
“IFCO and Walmart share the goal of an efficient, sustainable fresh food supply chain that helps nourish millions of Americans and billions of consumers worldwide,” stated Dan Martin, outgoing president of IFCO North America. “This agreement is a win for IFCO, a win for Walmart, a win for the environment and a win for millions of grocery shoppers across America.”
IFCO added that its RPCs will contribute to Walmart’s Project Gigaton goal to cut 1 gigaton of greenhouse gas emissions from its supply chain by 2030. Once fully implemented, the use of IFCO RPCs is expected to help the retail giant to annually avoid an estimated 70,000 metric tons of carbon dioxide emissions (equivalent to removing over 16,000 cars from the road), 40 million kilograms of solid waste (equivalent to the amount of waste created by 19 million people), 1 billion kilowatt hours of energy use (equivalent to powering 2.5 million light bulbs), 1 million cubic meters of water consumption (equivalent to the water use of more than 34 million individual showers) and 7 million kilograms of product damage (equivalent to the amount of food for over 11 million individual meals each year), according to IFCO.
Worldwide, IFCO provides reusable packaging solutions for fresh food in more than 50 countries. The company operates a global pool of over 314 million RPCs, used for over 1.7 billion shipments of fresh fruit and vegetables, meat, poultry, seafood, eggs, bread, and other items from suppliers to grocery retailers annually.