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Walmart's Made in USA Sourcing Initiative and the implications for sustainable supply chains

Posted by Chandler Slavin on May 19, 2015 8:36:00 AM

Hey guys!

Today I am presenting twice at the Sustainable Manufacturer Conference: first, on Walmart and sustainable supply chains; and second, on how clamshells became recycled. 

I have copied my notes from the Walmart and supply chain presentation here. You can download the entire presentation here.

Clamshell recycling presentation to come!

Walmart's Made in USA Sourcing Initiative and the implications for sustainable supply chains

My name is Chandler Slavin and I am here to speak with you about Walmart’s Made in USA Sourcing Initiative and the implications for sustainable supply chains.

I am the Sustainability Coordinator at family owned and operated Dordan Manufacturing, located in Woodstock, IL. We design and manufacture custom plastic packaging and products in a conversion process called “thermoforming.” You can find our product at retail in the form of plastic clamshells and blisters; at a manufacturing plant as a work in process tray; or at a medical device company, protecting sterilized medical devices.

As Sustainability Coordinator, I became involved with Walmart because of the introduction of their packaging assessment “scorecard” in 2008. This supplier “requirement” assessed packaging not only on performance and cost, but its “carbon footprint.”

As an indirect supplier to Walmart, I participated in their Packaging Sustainable Value Network, which was a working group that focused on Scorecard metrics and implementation. We met in Bentonville, AR, about twice a year to tackle issues related to the packaging Scorecard. Those meetings dissolved when the Scorecard was consumed by the metrics of the Global Packaging Project.

This year I was invited to be a contributing writer to Packaging Digest Magazine, a popular industry publication. For my debut article, I wanted to learn more about Walmart’s US Sourcing Initiative-- introduced to stakeholders January 2013– which committed the retailer to buying an additional $250 billion of US-made products by 2023. As an American manufacture, the idea that Walmart would be encouraging its suppliers to manufacture/assemble in the States made me very happy, as these domestic manufactures will certainly be needing American made packaging!

I was introduced to the VP of US Manufacturing at Walmart, Cindi Marsiglio, who agreed to an interview with me for my Magazine article. This interview serves as the foundation for today’s presentation on Walmart’s Made in USA initiatives and the Implications for Sustainable supply chains.

Marsiglio has worked at Walmart for more than 8 years, serving in capacities within the government relations arm of the corporation. She has been spearheading the US sourcing initiative for about a year.

With Walmart’s commitment of purchasing 250 billion in product supporting American jobs by 2023, Marsiglio has a team that works across Wal-Mart’s merchant network to find and work with suppliers to identify domestic manufacturing opportunities. Wal-Mart does this in three ways:

• First, to simply buy more products from its existing American suppliers;

• Second, to find new U.S.-made products to sell at Wal-Mart; and

• Third, to look where it makes sense to manufacture or assemble products in the U.S.

According to Wal-Mart’s customer research, after price, the biggest indicator of purchasing preference for customers is country of origin.

There is economic motivation for procuring more U.S.-made products and reshoring overseas operations. Much rhetoric exists on the American Manufacturing Renaissance; that is, how the global economies are shifting in America’s favor due to escalating labor, shipping and regulatory costs of manufacturing overseas. For Wal-Mart, these changing factors across the globe make the U.S. more attractive.

The company’s interest in U.S. sourcing is three-fold:

1. It is great for business;

2. It facilitates shorter supply chains; and

3. It allows the company to procure products geographically close to where they are being sold, enhancing responsiveness and seasonal rollout campaigns.

According to Marsiglio, Wal-Mart can lower the costs of goods sold at its stores by sourcing in the U.S.

Once the proclamation of Wal-Mart’s U.S. sourcing initiative was made, the retailer spoke with its overseas suppliers, trying to understand the hurdles to reshoring. For many, it was where to locate. Everything from where to find the raw materials to creating the required supply chain married with the complexities of workforce development and tax incentives added to the complexities suppliers face when reshoring products.

The company tapped into the many resources it had in governmental affairs and sponsored a variety of events targeted at bringing manufacturers and governmental officials together to discuss opportunities and solutions. By creating the platform where suppliers and state agents could cut through the complexities of reshoring, Wal-Mart provided the mechanism by which overseas suppliers could begin to look at how to bring their operations home.

Two years since the introduction of the initiative, the retailer has several success stories.

Kent International, a global supplier of bicycles for major retailers, is building its new bicycle manufacturing facility in Clarendon County to supply Walmart with its first U.S.-assembled bicycles. The $4.3 million investment is expected to bring 175 jobs to the area. 

KORONA Candles has reshored its tea lights from Poland to Dublin, Virginia. The factory line opened last month and our stores across the country are carrying these U.S.-made tea light candles. By the end of 2016, the company expects to hire over 175 employees.

And Ranir redesigned an electric tooth brush head in order to make the product in Grand Rapids, Michigan, instead of China.

In business school, we studied why Walmart was great. One of the reasons was because of the company’s revolutionary hub and spoke distribution model. This allowed for efficient –and sustainable—supply chains between merchant and retailer.

The case study reads (1989),

Only 20% of the inbound merchandise was shipped directly from the vendors to the stores. The rest passed through Wal-Mart's two-step hub-and-spoke distribution network. One of Wal-Mart's 400-plus truck-tractors would bring the merchandise into a distribution center, where it would be sorted automatically onto another truck and delivered to the store-usually within 48 hours of the original request.

Because Wal-Mart stores were packed together, one truck could resupply two or three on a single trip. Any merchandise that had to be returned was carried back to the distribution center for consolidation. Since many vendors operated warehouses or factories within Wal-Mart's territory, trucks also picked up new shipments on the return trip. In the early 1980s, Wal-Mart's trucks were running 60% full on backhauls.


US Sourcing– and bringing the production of products sold at Walmart closer to the retail stores, is reminiscent of the hub-and-spoke distribution network that is hallmark of the company’s exponential growth. By encouraging the creation of more localized and regional supply chains, Walmart is facilitating more efficient, and therefore sustainable, supply chains.

Download Trends in Sustainable Packaging Presentation

Posted by Chandler Slavin on May 18, 2015 2:41:41 PM

Hey guys!

I am at the Sustainable Manufacturer Conference BUT I wanted to share with you my "trends in sustainable packaging presentation" that I made for a friend after SUSTPACK15. This is the short and sweet of the conference and a compilation of my favorite takeaways. Enjoy!

Download Trends in Sustainable Packaging

BTW here is a picture of ME before today's tour at Catepillar, Inc., which was AWESOME!


4 Countries Generate about Half of the Plastic Marine Debris

Posted by Chandler Slavin on May 11, 2015 11:28:00 AM

Hey guys!

My interview with the Director of the Trash Free Sea Program at the Ocean Conservancy is published at!

Titled, "4 Countries Generate about Half of the Plastic Marine Debris," I inqiure:

The problem of ocean debris is like the game of “Dirty Backyard.” The amount of plastic pollution in our oceans continues to increase, with countries in rapidly developing economies in Southwest Asia being the largest contributors. What can we do to reverse this trend and clean up our seas?

Click here to learn why plastic ocean debris is associated with developing countires. 


Interview with Director of Trash Free Sea Program @Ocean Conservancy

Posted by Chandler Slavin on May 7, 2015 7:52:26 AM

Hey guys!

When I attended SUSTPACK on behalf of Packaging Digest, in addition to covering the sessions via social media outlets (BTW, did you see this compilation of popular Tweets from the conference!?), I was tasked with writing an article about something interesting I learned.

...I love this tweet from Lisa @PackagingDigest.


I have always been very sensitive about the issue of ocean debris. I think I have seen that picture of the Albatross carcass with plastic bits littered throughout several dozen times, and every time, it has the same stomach-flopping effect on me.

I find plastic marine debris a hard problem to comprehend. It is such a geographically large issue, owned by all, making the attribution of responsibility all the more difficult.

I wrote my first article about plastic ocean debris in 2013, after I saw a panel discussion on the issue and learned about the findings of a new report, “Plastic Accumulation in the North Atlantic Subtropical Gyre” (Kara Lavender Law et al., Science Magazine, September 2010). The authors conclude:

“Plastic marine pollution is a major environmental concern, yet a quantitative description of the scope of the problem in the open ocean is lacking. Here, we present a time series of plastic content at the surface of the western North Atlantic Ocean and Caribbean Sea from 1986 to 2008. … Despite a rapid increase in plastic production and disposal during this time period, no trend in plastic concentration was observed in the region of highest accumulation."

My first article on ocean debris, therefore, worked to emphasize this finding that while plastics production and consumption is always increasing, plastic debris in the ocean is not.


And then, science happened.

While attending SUSTPACK I heard another panel discussion on ocean debris and learned of ANOTHER study, "Plastic waste inputs from land into ocean" (Jambeck et al., Science, February 2015).

This study, as the title implies, quantifies and qualifies the concentration of plastics entering the ocean. The findings are remarkable. Look out for my exclusive interview with the Director of the Trash Free Seas Program at the Ocean Conservancy in my next Packaging Digest article, out soon!

50% off Sustainable Manufacturer Conference Registration

Posted by Chandler Slavin on May 4, 2015 8:42:00 AM

Hey guys!

Today is your lucky day!

As a presenter at the Sustainable Manufacturer Conference, I get to offer a 50% off registration rate for friends and colleagues! That means you can attend the 2-day sustainability party in Naperville, IL (May 18-19th), for just under $300.00! AND, though not confirmed yet, we may be touring green cleaning products company Method's Chicago South Side plant the first day of the conference; it has a roof top garden, a packaging supplier manufacturing on-site, and wind and solar power generation.

Register for 50% off

Below is a summary of the content agenda.

Day 1:

Tour of Caterpillar, Inc.

Sustainability 101 Workshops, Sustainable Research Group

Lean & Recycling Panel, Green Manufacturing Industrial Consortium

Presentation from Method

Day 2:

Keynote, the Hidden ROI of Sustainability, Natural Marketing Institute

Software panel

Sustainability Impacts in the Supply Chain, Steelcase & Dordan Manufacturing

LEED for existing factories, ThyssenKrupp Elevator Americas

Solar Panel, Wahl Clipper

4 Dimensional Product, Dow Chemical

How Postconsumer Thermoforms Became Recyclable & Recycled, ME

Re: the "supply chain panel"; I am presenting on Walmart's Made in America Sourcing Initiative and the implications for supply chains.

I can't wait to see you there!



Learn how Dordan is Different: Download new presentation

Posted by Chandler Slavin on Apr 29, 2015 10:58:25 AM

Hey guys!

Guess what? I just finished a new presentation on Dordan available here for your downloading pleasure.

Learn how Dordan is different through a discussion of Dordan's package design, CNC machining, and thermoforming capabilities, topped off with a brand new design for thermoforming case study.

AND, I have compiled all of Dordan's research and reports in a NEW Dordan Library page to make it easy for you to find what you need.



Posted by Chandler Slavin on Apr 22, 2015 2:56:55 PM

Hello and happy Earth Day! The only day when social media rains environmental love.

I have scoured the edges of the Internet to bring you the best Earth Day content and believe I have finally found it!

Check out this awesome video of NATURE and take awe at its majestic beauty!

REGISTER NOW: Sustainable Manufacturer Conference

Posted by Chandler Slavin on Apr 17, 2015 1:40:00 PM

Hello world!

Guys, you have to check out the Sustainable Manufacturer Conference May 18-19th in Naperville, IL. 

This is the second annual conference produced by the Sustainable Manufacturer Network geared completely at how manufacturers can become more sustainable. Hear from companies like Method, Steelcase, Wahl Clipper and ThyssenKrupp Elevator Americas on how they integrate sustainability into their operations.

Learn about the "Hidden ROI of sustainability" in the keynote address from Scot Case, Vice President of Strategic Consulting at the Natural Marketing Institute.

"The hidden ROI of sustainability," you ask? 

Lots of sustainability initiatives save money.  It’s easy to calculate the return on investment (ROI) for a zero waste initiative, a more energy efficient lighting upgrade, or a more energy- or water-efficient manufacturing process.  The ROI is simple: savings over time minus expenses.

Case asks us, "What about the hidden ROI?"  Is it possible that you are failing to capture or even recognize your sustainability initiatives connections to increased sales, increased customer loyalty, or increased reputation?

Scot Case, a sustainability consultant for more than 20 years, will explore ways companies can talk about their sustainability initiatives in ways that help drive sales. Whether you are making finished goods or components that are part of a complex supply chain, the way your company talks about its sustainability initiatives can affect your bottom line.

"Oh yeah, how!?"

Register for the Sustainable Manufacturer Conference to find out.  

And hear from ME on Dordan's clamshell recycling initiative and Walmart's US sourcing initiative, which has implications for sustainability.

See the full agenda here. 


Takeaways from SUSTPACK15, part 1: material science

Posted by Chandler Slavin on Apr 15, 2015 2:41:00 PM

Hello my sustainable packaging friends!

I have returned from SUSTPACK15 in Orlando and feel equiped to provide a snap shot of the state of the sustainable packaging industry. My next several posts will summarize some key takeaways from the conference. 

Having been somewhat absent from the sustainable packaging networking space following Dordan's withdrawal from the Sustainable Packaging Coalition, it was absolutely fantastic being reuinited with so many old friends. It seriously felt like a reuinion. Though there are some new faces, I was shocked by how many of the same people continue to participate in the sustainable packaging conference circuit; I suppose that speaks to the tenacity of the movement.

Here are some photos I snapped from the welcoming reception.


From left, representatives from Newell Rubermaid, Nike, UPS, the Sustainable Packaging Coalition  


Aveda & Estee Lauder, recipients of 2015 Trashie Package Award


Smither's PIRA International

The conference had some really great presentations. On the supplier/materials innovation side, I particularly enjoyed the presentations from Mango Materials and Loliware. 

Mango Materials produces biodegradable plastics from methane gas, which is a greenhouse gas eight times more detrimental to the ozone layer then carbon dioxide. All landfills produce methane gas; it is one of the byproducs of decomposition and wastewater treatment. Often times, this methane is captured and either burned on site or repurposed as electricity, though not all landfills do this. The conversion of methane gas to electricity requires energy.

Unlike other biodegradable plastics like PLA that use agricultural byproducts as feedstock, Mango Material's uses methane gas as the feedstock. The company is literally using a waste product as the feedstock for bioplastic as opposed to using a resource-intensive material like corn for material production. And the process of producing bioplastics from methane gas requires less energy than producing electricity from methane gas. 

Mango's methane-based bioplastic is PHA, which Dordan has sampled in its Bio Resin Show N Tell, though from a different supplier. Mango's PHA is significantly cheaper then the PHA we sampled, priced at about $1.10/lbs. This is because the waste feedstock and the process of converting methane to PHA is less complex the the process of converting plant-derived sugar, according to company CEO and Founder Molly Morse. 

So here you have a waste product contributing to global warming captured and converted into a biodegradable plastic that is cheaper than other biodegradable plastics because the process of conversion is more simplistic and the feedstock not resource intensive. 

Sounds radical. And this company was funded by Stanford with the Founder/CEO graduating from its Engineers for a Sustainable World program. 

Next up, Loliware, a supplier of biodegradable edible cups. 

Made from a plant-based gelatin, these edible cups are flavored to compliment different beverages. Flavors include citrus, Macha green tea, tart cherry and vanilla.  



Loliware Biodegr[edible] Cups

Look out for my video interview with Co-Founder and Co-CEO Chelsea Briganti 


Photo includes representatives from Packaging Digest, Replenish, Loliware, Mango Materials

I was also very engaged with the Ocean Conservancy's presentation on the state of ocean debris. I am currently reviewing the agency's presentation, which describes how developing countries contribute the most substantially to ocean debris "leakage." This will be the focus of my next article for Packaging Digest. 

And here is yours truly, posing with my Press badge; it was awesome playing video interviewer and reporter for Packaging Digest at the conference and I am excited to share my next article on trends in ocean debris with you. 

Look out for more takeaways from SUSTPACK15 in blog posts coming soon! 


Made in America article, Packaging Digest, and SUSTPACK15, oh my!

Posted by Chandler Slavin on Mar 30, 2015 9:09:00 AM

Hey guys!

My debut Packaging Digest article was published last week! While I bet you are aware of Walmart's US sourcing initiative, to learn about the progress and what that means for domestic packaging manufacturers like DORDAN follow the link below!

Walmart's Made in USA initiative bodes well for US packaging sourcing

Tomorrow I set sail for Orlando, to fulfill my dream of being a movie star! Well, being a guest reporter and journalist for Packaging Digest, but why split hairs? I get to conduct video interviews with conference presenters like friend Jason Foster Founder and Chief Reuser at Replenish. And, hear from the latest and greatest of the sustainable packaging world. It has been a minute since I attended a sustainable packaging conference, so I can't wait to brush up on the trends, innovations, and try to get a read on the overall health of the sustainable packaging industry. I wish I had a head to toe Dordan pantsuit to represent my brand, but I suppose a business casual ensemble will just have to do.

I will be tweeting updates and photos from the conference. Look for me in the Twittersphere, #SUSTPACK15 @DordanMfg


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