Cart, Blanche: How Walmart Shopping Carts are Born, and Reborn, Through Recycling

Unarco shopping carts being deconstructed

Nov. 14, 2019
By Elizabeth Walker, Walmart Corporate Affairs

It’s the first thing you touch when you walk into a store, and the last thing you touch before you leave the parking lot. The shopping cart has become a quintessential part of the American shopping experience, but have you ever thought about where the carts come from?

Most people probably don’t realize around half of the nation’s carts are produced in Wagoner, Okla., by Unarco, a retail equipment company. Unarco not only makes carts “from scratch” but also takes recycling them to the next level.

UNARCO Recycled Shopping Carts

Years ago, at Walmart’s urging, Unarco developed a process to remanufacture shopping carts – taking a cart that is past its prime, burning off the rust through a patented process and making it into a refurbished cart. This extends the life of the steel so that it can stay in use and out of the landfill. The product is such high-quality that many people cannot even tell the difference between a brand-new cart and one that has been remanufactured.

And it’s not just the steel that gets a new life. The wheels, the plastic, all salvageable parts of the cart get recycled in an effort to save money and reduce waste.

It’s about taking something that would have otherwise served its purpose and breathing new life into it.
John Bieri, vice president of sales for Unarco

According to Unarco, they have processed 3.4 million carts for Walmart, resulting in impressive environmental savings:

  • 485.3 million pounds of carbon emissions
  • 3.6 billion gallons of water
  • 407 million kilowatts of electricity

“Recycling shopping carts has been the right thing to do from a sustainability perspective,” said Muriel McSweeny, senior sourcing manager for Walmart. “We are able to help keep the materials from heading to a landfill prematurely. We are also able to provide a savings to the stores because we aren’t having to pay steel costs. It’s all part of our mission to keep costs down and help customers save money.”