Canadian Tire’s Packaging Sustainability Network
Project lead: Ed Johnston
Partnering with suppliers, Canadian Tire redesigned hundreds its products and packaging, thereby avoiding costs of $3.6 million, reducing waste by 2,876 tonnes and eliminating 4,346 tonnes of greenhouse gas emissions.
When Canadian Tire discovered that 78% of their carbon footprint was derived from their products and packaging and their transportation, they saw an opportunity to significantly reduce their environmental impacts, and in 2010, introduced their Packaging Sustainability Network under the guidance of Ed Johnston, Vice President of Sourcing Services.
The Network developed initiatives to reduce the size of products, to eliminate waste generated through packaging, and to use more recyclable forms of packaging. It also focused on reducing the amount of goods damaged during shipping, which helped eliminate waste by having to send another truck with replacement goods.
Project Team leaders developed creative solutions, such as a supplier packaging contest, to ensure that both internal and external stakeholders bought into the program.
Back (from left to right): Jessica Godin, AVP, Supply Chain Integration; Mike DePaul, AVP, Procurement and Vendor Engagement; Jay Bingleman, Manager, Product Assurance Operations. Front (from left to right): Neil Beaton, Senior Packaging Optimization Consultant; Steve McKechnie, Manager, Supply Chain Integration.
The initiative proved challenging given the company’s complex supply chain. Its success relied on close collaboration among several departments, including Supply Chain, Packaging, Business Sustainability, Sourcing Services, Merchandising, and Finance -and it continues to highlight the importance of engaging external stakeholders while implementing sustainability programs.
One of the Network’s first sustainability innovations was a supplier packaging contest. More than 400 suppliers were invited to submit potential products for modifications. The products were evaluated for their potential to reduce waste and avoid costs and the best ones were selected.
Through the Packaging Sustainability Network, Canadian Tire has been able to significantly reduce the size of packaging for products such as this dinnerware set. Compare the present package on the left with its former self
Internal buy-in was also important. In the case of the Merchandising team, the variable compensation plans of select employees were tied to cost avoidance from these product changes. The Packaging Sustainability Network also collaborated with the Business Sustainability and Finance teams to ensure that they could actually measure results, a critical component of the support and success of any sustainability initiative.
Other examples of the packaging reductions achieved through the Network. The plastics coverings above have been replaced by fold over cards with paper blisters (100% recyclable)
Collaborating with multiple departments and suppliers to reduce environmental impact and costs is a challenge for any organization. Canadian Tire has shown that the increased effort is worth it, figuratively and literally. By 2011, more than 196 products had been redesigned for efficient transportation, while another 124 cases of shipping damages had been addressed. For example: socket wrench sets were redesigned with smaller packaging, reducing shipping costs by 68% in one scenario, and by 49% in another.
Changes like this, combined, have meant that two years into the program, Canadian Tire has already avoided $3.6 million in costs, 4,346 tonnes of GHG emissions, and 2,876 tonnes waste, proving once again that what is good for the environment is also good for business and customers.
Significant financial and environmental gains were realized through the right-sizing of this popular bit socket set.
Given Canadian Tire’s more than 120,000 products, the company should continue to register the impacts of the Packaging Sustainability Network for some time to come.