BENTONVILLE, Ark. — The laundry aisle is in for a big change following Wal-Mart’s announcement yesterday that it plans to sell only concentrated liquid laundry detergents at all of its U.S. stores and Sam’s Clubs by 2008. Wal-Mart is making the change to help the environment, as the concentrated versions use about half the water of regular liquids, resulting in packaging that requires about 20% to 40% less plastic. The move is projected to save more than 400 million gallons of water, more than 95 million pounds of plastic resin and more than 125 million pounds of cardboard, according to Wal-Mart. “What we have done is work with suppliers to take water — one of our most precious natural resources — out of the liquid laundry detergent on our shelves,” Wal-Mart chairman and chief executive officer Lee Scott said at the Clinton Global Initiative in New York. “We simply don’t want our customers to have to choose between a product they can afford and an environmentally friendly product.” The transition will occur in waves beginning in the Southern region in October, extending to the North and Midwest by February and finishing in East Coast states in April 2008. About 25% of the liquid laundry detergent sold in the United States is sold through Wal-Mart stores. Wal-Mart’s move comes at a time when Procter & Gamble is in the process of converting all of its liquid laundry detergents to new “2X,” or 50% compacted, versions. The rollout will continue through April 2008. Packaged in bottles that are about half the size of traditional liquid detergent bottles, the 2X detergents are said to clean the same number of loads per bottle as the regular-strength detergents.
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