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Wal-Mart program aims to trim packaging

Sat., Sept. 23, 2006

Wal-Mart Stores Inc. on Friday announced a five-year program with its suppliers to help reduce overall packaging by 5 percent, hoping to keep trash out of landfills and global-warming gases out of the atmosphere.

In the latest step to polish its environmental record, the world’s largest retailer said it will begin the initiative in 2008, and it could help Wal-Mart save $3.4 billion in its own costs. In the five-year plan, Wal-Mart will push its 600,000 global suppliers to find more efficient packaging methods. It estimates total supplier savings of $11 billion.

The announcement on the third day of the Clinton Global Initiative, an annual conference of business, political and nonprofit leaders hosted by former President Clinton, is the second made this week by Wal-Mart to improve its image.

On Thursday, Wal-Mart announced that it was cutting the prices of many generic drugs to $4 at its pharmacies. The program began Friday in Florida but is expected to be rolled out to the rest of the country next year.

Tribune Co., under pressure from shareholders to boost its stock price, is signaling it may sell, break up or take private the company that owns the Chicago Tribune, the Los Angeles Times, television stations and the Chicago Cubs.

The company is targeting potentially transforming changes by the end of the year following a five-hour meeting of its board of directors on Thursday.

Wall Street reacted positively Friday. A day after Tribune shares rose more than 4 percent, they gained another $1.94, or 6 percent, to close at $33.99 on the New York Stock Exchange.

But Standard & Poor’s lowered its credit ratings on Tribune to the speculative-grade or “junk” category. The ratings agency said the possibility of another stock buyback or sale of parts of the company suggests Tribune won’t be focusing on reducing its huge debt, which totaled $4.9 billion as of July.

•The MTV Networks are starting a new channel aimed at young Latinos called MTV Tr3s.

Tr3s, pronounced as the Spanish word for three, begins operation Monday and follows MTV, MTV2 and eight other related networks operating in the United States. It will be seen on some digital cable systems, on the DirecTV satellite system or various low-power broadcast stations. It’ll be music-heavy at its start, with programs featuring the music of Shakira, Sean Paul, Jeremias, the Kumbia Kings and others.

“I look at it as a pop culture destination because these kids have not really had their music or culture and what is really defining U.S. Latino culture on a channel 24 hours a day,” said Lucia Ballas-Traynor, MTV Tr3s senior vice president and general manager.

“MiTRL,” a version of the MTV hit “Total Request Live,” will be the network’s signature music show and has already snared commitments from Ricky Martin and Alejandro Sanz to debut their latest releases.

Latino versions of MTV hit shows “My Super Sixteen” and “Pimp My Ride” will be created, transformed into “Quiero Mis Quinces” and “Pimpeando.”


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