SEARS, SUPPLIERS TEAM UP TO REDUCE, RECYCLE PACKAGING
CHICAGO, Nov. 13 /PRNewswire/ -- Sears, Roebuck and Co. (NYSE: S) and its suppliers are teaming up as "environmental partners" in a comprehensive packaging reduction and recycling program that will reduce the volume of packaging materials for products sold at Sears by an estimated 25 percent by the end of 1994.
Sears and its partners -- 2,300 of whom have already agreed to participate -- intend to achieve this goal two ways: by cutting the amount of product packaging used and by increasing the use of recycled materials in the packaging of merchandise.
Sears said it believes this is the most far-reaching program in retailing and one of the most comprehensive in American industry because it establishes specific quotas and deadlines, addresses both source reduction and recycling, and involves a large number of companies committed to working with Sears as an environmental partner.
Sears estimates the program will reduce about 1.5 million tons of packaging annually by the end of 1994 and save the company about $5 million annually beginning in 1992.
The new environmental partnership already is in the process of changing the packaging of many familiar house brand and name brand products sold at Sears, including Craftsman and Stanley tools; Kenmore appliances; Weatherbeater, Easy Living and Dutch Boy paints; Sunbeam and Oster housewares; and Weider health and fitness equipment.
"We believe our new environmental partnership is significant because it is an integrated and comprehensive program, linking thousands of American companies with Sears in a broad-based commitment to address the country's solid waste disposal problem," said Laurence E. Cudmore, president of retail for Sears Merchandise Group. "It also is an important extension of Sears' tradition of protecting the environment.
"While Sears, like many other companies, markets products that help the environment, we believe the best way we can continue to help the environment and address the solid waste problem is to stop it before it begins, and that is by careful analysis of what packaging is necessary," Cudmore said. "Our suppliers agree.
"This program is good for our customers, good for Sears and good for the environment. Our customers are becoming increasingly sensitive to the amount and type of packaging in their purchases," Cudmore said.
"It's good for the environment because it diverts solid materials from the waste stream and good for our sources and Sears who can lower operating costs by reducing packaging," he said.
Sears initiated the program earlier this year when Cudmore and Sears Catalog President Everett L. Buckardt wrote chief executives of about 5,175 source companies. They asked the sources to work with Sears buyers to find practical and innovative ways to reduce the amount of solid waste by eliminating packaging where possible and by increasing the use of recycled paper and plastic for product packaging.
The letter outlined the following four quotas set by Sears:
-- Reduce by at least 10 percent the volume and weight of a product's packaging material by the end of 1992.
-- Increase the level of recycled materials in corrugated containers to 25 percent by the end of 1992.
-- Increase the use of recycled materials in plastic containers to 20 percent by the end of 1995.
-- Utilize the highest recycled content materials possible in other types of packaging, such as folding cartons and blister cards.
As the first step toward compliance, Sears asked its source companies to clearly state their goals for reductions in packaging and increases in the use of recycled packaging materials. Sears also asked each company to indicate deadlines for reaching the goals based on its current packaging.
"The response has been overwhelmingly supportive," said Keith B. Tice, Sears national director for packaging and labeling. "None of our suppliers has said they can't comply and many have committed to go beyond our expectations.
"Sears is confident that a vast majority of its partners will meet or beat the program's requirements and deadlines," Tice said.
"Our objective is to strike the proper balance between the packaging necessary to sell and protect a product from breakage versus what is good for the environment," Tice said. "We must eliminate unnecessary packaging and, at the same time, preserve product quality."
Tice outlined several examples of the environmental partnership.
Western Forge Corp., a manufacturer of Sears Craftsman hand tools, tested the display of individual screwdrivers and pliers on racks without packaging at the Oak Brook, Ill., Sears store earlier this year. The program was well-received by customers, Tice said.
When implemented at about 500 Sears stores by the end of 1991, Western Forge's change in packaging and display will eliminate about 78 tons of plastic annually. The display will be in all Sears stores in 1992.
Sears said it is working with Whirlpool Corp. and General Electric Company, manufacturers of Kenmore appliances, to reduce overall packaging and increase the amount of recycled materials in corrugated boxes used for shipping.
For example, Sears will cut about a half pound of cardboard from its clothes dryer boxes and increase recycled material content to 40 percent. Kenmore dishwasher boxes will weigh three pounds less and use 55 percent recycled cardboard. Whirlpool estimates that it will eliminate 553 tons of packaging material from boxes for Kenmore dishwashers, refrigerators and clothes dryers in 1992.
For paint cans, Sears and manufacturer Sherwin-Williams are now producing cans for Weatherbeater, Easy Living and Dutch Boy paints that are entirely recyclable. Previously, cans contained lids and labels that inhibited their recycling.
Additionally, Sears and some of its sources have already achieved significant results recently that have benefited the environment.
In apparel, Sears will cut the amount of cardboard packaging by 2.8 million pounds in 1992, a 60 percent reduction over 1990's volume, because nearly all men's, women's and children's apparel will be shipped in bulk from manufacturers to five Sears distribution centers. At the centers, merchandise is sorted and wrapped for each store and shipped on racks without cardboard packaging.
Previously, Sears apparel suppliers shipped about one-half of all apparel merchandise in individual cartons to each Sears store.
About three and one-half years ago, Sears and women's undergarment makers Warner's and Splendorform Industries, Inc., began reducing the amount of individual folding cartons, paperboard inserts and plastic bags used to package lingerie.
Today, about 80 percent of bras and more than 50 percent of panties sold at Sears are hung on racks without packaging. For Sears and its suppliers, about 450,000 pounds of cardboard have been taken out of the waste stream through the lingerie packaging program since 1988.
/CONTACT: Gerald E. Buldak, 312-875-8371, or Perry D. Chlan, 312-875-7079, both of Sears, Roebuck/
(S) CO: Sears, Roebuck & Co. ST: Illinois IN: REA SU: FC -- NY039 -- 3900 11/13/91 11:33 EST