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BENTONVILLE, Ark. - In an effort to be a catalyst for "greening" of the entire liquid laundry detergent category across the retail industry, Wal-Mart Stores, Inc. plans to sell only concentrated products in the liquid laundry detergent category in its U.S. Wal-Mart Stores and Sam's Clubs.
Lee Scott, president and c.e.o. of Wal-Mart, revealed the commitment to only concentrates at the Clinton Global Initiative yesterday in New York City.
"People expect businesses to step up and work together to help solve the big challenges facing the world," he told the crowd of approximately 1,000 people gathered at the event. "What we have done is work with suppliers to take water -- one of our most precious natural resources -- out of the liquid laundry detergent on our shelves. We simply don't want our customers to have to choose between a product they can afford and an environmentally friendly product."
Wal-Mart said expects to be selling only concentrated detergent in all of its U.S. stores by early May 2008. The transition will occur in waves beginning in the Southern region in October, extending to the North and Midwest by February, and finishing in East Coast states in April 2008.
According to Wal-Mart, the merchandising shift will save more than 400 million gallons of water, more than 95 million pounds of plastic resin, and more than 125 million pounds of cardboard. Since approximately 25 percent of the liquid laundry detergent sold in the United States is passes through Wal-Mart stores, the potential savings in natural resources through the entire retail industry could be four times as much.
The technology to concentrate liquid detergent has been available for more than a decade, but was little used due to lack of interest in commercialization. Partnering closely with its suppliers, Wal-Mart made the decision to offer only concentrated detergent, and manufacturers began transforming their facilities to accommodate this request, leaving less capacity for old-fashioned detergents with high water content. This encouraged other retailers to move toward selling only the concentrated version of liquid detergents.
In 2005, Wal-Mart initiated a partnership with Unilever to dramatically reduce the packaging of its "all" detergent. In February 2006, Unilever unveiled "all small-and-mighty," which is three-times concentrated, and contains enough detergent to wash the same 32 loads as a 100-oz. bottle. Wal-Mart helped bring the product to market by promising equal or greater shelf space despite the smaller product size.
The success of this partnership led Wal-Mart to work with suppliers throughout the laundry detergent industry, including P&G, Unilever, Dial, Huish, and Church & Dwight, to offer their own concentrated laundry detergents. Wal-Mart will continue to work together with these suppliers to ensure customer acceptance and promote the benefits of concentrated detergent.
Wal-Mart said it will bolster its commitment with a number of marketing and education efforts, including:
- Interactive displays at select stores to help customers understand the products' environmental benefits;
- Marketing concentrated laundry detergent through promotions in print publications, on Wal-Mart TV and at walmart.com; and
- Educating Wal-Mart associates through internal communications channels.