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Walmart expands invite for expo, increases capacity

Fourth annual Sustainable Packaging Expo opens doors to more suppliers and adds seating for information sessions.

Pw 5557 Walmart

Continuing its ongoing commitment to guide its product suppliers along the path to greener packaging, Walmart Stores, Inc. will be holding its fourth annual Sustainable Packaging Expo April 14 and 15 at the John Q. Hammons Convention Center in Rogers, AR. Unlike past years, the 2009 event is open to all consumer packaged goods companies that currently supply Walmart. In past years, attendance was by invitation only, with Walmart buyers hosting a limited number of their product suppliers.

“This year we made some modifications,” Sam’s Club director of packaging Amy Zettlemoyer-Lazar (shown) told Packaging World in an exclusive interview. “There was so much interest last year and so little time. It’s only two days, and our buyers are responsible for a lot of supplier relationships. We actually wanted to make the expo broader and make it available to more product suppliers.”

Open from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. each day, the expo will feature exhibits from more than 155 suppliers of packaging materials and services—a 13% increase over last year’s total. Says Christi Davis Gallagher, senior communications manager for Walmart, “We feel that the expo is an opportunity for both our product suppliers and the packaging suppliers to get a better understanding of how we can all come together to benefit one ultimate goal, which is to reduce packaging and offer better solutions.”

Special sessions on sustainability topics

In conjunction with the exhibit hall, Walmart will also be sponsoring a number of information sessions, with the capacity to seat twice as many visitors as the 2008 event. “Last year, we were standing room only,” says Zettlemoyer-Lazar. “This year we have expanded our seating to allow approximately 300 people in each session.”

The presentations, hosted by Walmart and Sam’s Club associates, and by packaging material trade associations, cover topics such as paper and polymers; the Federal Trade Commission’s Green Guidelines; biodegradability and compostability; and transportation and logistics. Notes Zettlemoyer-Lazar, the most popular session by registration so far is one that will be presented by several Walmart product suppliers that have made successful improvements to their packaging that have had a positive impact on their scorecard metrics. Among them are P&G, Unilever, and Clorox, she relates.

While attendance is open to all current Walmart product suppliers, the company asks that attendees pre-register at Retail Link. (https://retaillink.wal-mart.com).

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