What is Walmart doing about plastic waste?

Addressing plastic waste is incredibly complex – partly because of the highly fragmented state-by-state approach to curbside recycling. Despite these challenges, Walmart is working hard to be part of the solution, continuously improving our efforts to help with plastic reduction and recycling strategies.

We're advocating for broad solutions, including exploring ways to design packaging with recyclability in mind, while striving to reduce the amount of plastic used in our operations and the products we sell.

Advocacy: Consistent Infrastructure

Solutions like Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR), could help improve a highly fragmented recycling infrastructure across the U.S. EPR requires producers of packaging material to pay volume and material-based fees and work together with governments to disburse this money to fund recycling system improvements. Walmart also participates in industry discussions on recycling through groups such as the Consumer Goods Forum (CGF) Plastics Coalition and the Retail Industry Leaders Association (RILA).

Globally, we support the adoption of a Global Plastics Treaty, working with leading experts and non-governmental organizations such as the Ellen MacArthur Foundation and World Wildlife Fund to advocate for well-constructed, science-based policy that can help accelerate the availability and adoption of more sustainable packaging solutions, as well as improvements in recycling infrastructure. We believe that one set of global plastics rules can help create a more circular economy.

Supplier Support: Innovation on Shelf

Product and packaging innovation can play a role in addressing waste. From sharing supplier tools such as calculators, goal setting resources and best practice guidance through our Sustainability Hub to creating platforms like the Circular Connector, an online platform designed to match packaging innovations with brands, Walmart is supporting product and packaging innovation to reduce, and where possible, eliminate plastic. We also offer a Sustainable Packaging Playbook to help our suppliers enhance and innovate their packaging.

Access: Customer & Member Engagement

In 2021, we began offering collection bins for plastic bags and films in our U.S. stores. Our program is designed to collect these materials and mix them into a bale with other recyclables. We contract with companies to pick up these bales for sorting and recycling. Although our contracts with these companies require these items to be recycled to the maximum extent practicable, in some circumstances, the companies we contract with determine that items placed in our bins cannot be recycled—for example, a plastic bag may be contaminated. Other additional ways we are working to expand access to recycling as well as reduce plastic bag use include:

  • Our Walmart+ InHome service offers plastic bag-free home delivery by default, while Walmart customers can opt out of plastic bags for delivery nationwide. In stores, we have expanded the assortment of reusable bags we offer at checkouts—starting at just 74 cents.
  • We've also participated in pilot programs like the Beyond the Bag initiative, a three-year project with companies like Target and CVS Health, to explore more sustainable alternatives to single-use plastic bags. You can see our learnings from those here and here.
  • More recently, we began testing Community Recycling Units across several of our stores and clubs as free, self-service drop-off locations for certain recyclables. We contract with companies to collect, sort, bale, and recycle collected materials to the maximum extent practicable. In some circumstances, the companies we contract with determine items placed in the units cannot be recycled—for example, if material is ineligible for recycling through our program or is contaminated. See here if your nearby store or club has a unit and bring eligible materials on your next trip.
  • The Walmart Foundation has supported innovation in recycling solutions, such as charitable giving to The Recycling Partnership's Material Recycling Coalitions, the Center for Sustainable Behavior & Impact, and an initiative called Accelerating Circularity, geared toward identifying new uses for used textile products.