P&G, Walmart Make Big Plastic-Reduction Moves

Consumers are increasingly aware of just how much single-use plastic they go through in a given day, prompting new efforts from Procter & Gamble and Walmart.

P&G just introduced refillable antiperspirant cases for both Old Spice and Secret, with no single-use packaging. And Walmart is teaming up with IFCO Systems in an effort that will wash, sanitize and reuse plastics in its produce departments.

Certainly, these aren’t firsts, with many brands already selling toothpaste tablets, shampoo bars and cardboard-wrapped deodorant. LUSH and Native, which P&G now owns, are among the biggest. And P&G’s Olay first unveiled refillable moisturizers back in 2019. Grocery stores have also been working to improve sustainability efforts.

But any moves by major brands are worth noting. That’s because the pandemic has dealt plastic-reduction efforts significant setbacks -- and consumers know this They are increasingly distressed by all the face shields, bubble wrap and takeout food containers they’re putting in the trash these days.



And as so many municipalities dial back recycling efforts, the evidence about the damaging impact of plastic in landfills and the ocean keeps piling up.

A recent study from McKinsey finds that more than half of U.S. consumers are highly concerned about the environmental impact of packaging. Amid heightened concerns about hygiene and safety, they are willing to pay more for green packaging, and wish they had more (and better-labeled) options.

Complicating the picture is the low price of petroleum, making manufacturing new plastics cheaper -- and more tempting to large companies.

P&G says its launch includes innovative refillable antiperspirant cases and Aluminum Free deodorants sold in recyclable paper tube packaging. (The paper is made of 90% recycled paperboard.)

The refill starter kits sell for $10, with refills costing $8.

“We know the most sustainable choices for consumers are not always the most affordable -- and that limits the impact we can have on our environment,” says Freddy Bharucha, senior vice president of P&G Personal Care, in its release. “By providing sustainable solutions for both antiperspirants and aluminum-free deodorants at some of the most affordable prices on the market, we’re able to make sustainable choices a reality for more consumers.”

Walmart’s new effort focuses not on personal care but on the tons of plastic used to sell produce. It is partnering with IFCO Systems, a Tampa, Florida-based packaging company, which it has been working with since 1998.

The new seven-year agreement calls for retrieving reusable plastic containers, which will then be cleaned, washed, sanitized and wrapped before being used again. IFCO says the process will allow for each container to be used up to 100 times. Later, they can then be reground into new containers.

IT says the effort will also bring significant increases to product shelf life and reduce food waste.

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