What is Walmart doing about plastic waste?

As the world’s largest retailer, we have the ability to affect meaningful change for people and the planet. That’s why for more than a decade, we’ve made intentional efforts to reduce our waste and to increase recycling of plastic in our operations and by customers and suppliers. Our aspiration is zero plastic waste as part of a movement toward a circular economy, meaning we’re working toward an approach that values the reuse and regeneration of materials and energy.

In 2005, we set aspirational goals to create zero waste, operate with 100% renewable energy and sell products that sustain our resources and the environment. Simply put: We are committed to working toward a more sustainable future every single day. As part of this journey, we set periodic targets to help keep us on track. At the same time, we recognize that the issues are complex and reaching our goals and targets requires the collective efforts of many.

For example, we have set a goal for 100% of our global private brand packaging to be recyclable, reusable or industrially compostable by 2025. As of the end of 2021, we are at 58% based on supplier reports. We also encourage our suppliers to put recycling information on packaging. In the U.S., Walmart recommends the use of the Sustainable Packaging Coalition’s How2Recycle label® to communicate recyclability. These standardized packaging labels are designed to provide important information about what can and can’t be recycled – making it easier for our customers to participate. As of our 2021 reporting cycle, 80% of Walmart U.S. private brand food and consumables supplier-reported sales came from items carrying the How2Recycle label. Furthermore, we partner with both private and national brands on piloting and implementing reusable packaging programs in stores and online.

Additionally, in 2020, we joined the “Beyond the Bag” initiative with the goal of identifying, testing and implementing scalable alternatives to plastic bags. As of May 2022, Walmart Canada and Mexico had transitioned fully from single use plastic bags at checkout to reusable bags for purchase. We have also made a similar transition in the states of Vermont, Maine and New Jersey in the U.S. and are continuing to expand this work while exploring alternative solutions to the single use checkout bags piloting through the Beyond the Bag Consortium. Our customers are encouraged to choose reusable bag options, and at many of our stores we provide recycling bins for plastic bags and other plastic films.

You can read more about these efforts in the Waste: Circular Economy section of our ESG reporting site.