Asda aims to maximise resources in product design

9 May 2013

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9 May 2013 | Adam Leach

Asda is looking more closely at the “circular economy” and how it can either reuse materials multiple times or make them last longer, its head of sustainability has said.

Speaking at the Responsible Business Summit in London on Tuesday, Julian Walker-Palin, head of corporate sustainability, explained the supermarket chain - and its owner Walmart - are paying more attention to getting the most out of its resources. But he also explained that such a move would not come without challenges.

“We’re starting to look more at the circular economy. Rather than just grabbing things out of the ground fresh every time, how would we design for reuse, how would we design to minimise resources needed for a product,” he said.

He explained to the audience of senior sustainability practitioners that Walmart had stated a commitment to prioritise durability over lowest cost in relation to materials used in manufacturing. But such a move, which would result in products lasting longer but costing more for the consumer as well, can be a tricky proposition to sell.

Discussing the topic of getting the wider business to invest in sustainability initiatives, he advised looking for opportunities that would deliver against the main goals of business. Walker-Palin used buying certified palm oil as an example, which has been shown to make yields up to four times greater, making it an investment in lower prices for the future.

He concluded: “You can’t go for everything all at once so you have to go for the biggest bang for your buck.”

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