Walmart is addressing the issue of plastic waste through a range of initiatives aimed at improving recycling and reducing plastic usage.

This effort comes in response to the complexities of the fragmented recycling systems across the US.

Advocacy for recycling infrastructure

Walmart is supporting policies such as extended producer responsibility (EPR) to address inconsistencies in recycling infrastructure.

EPR policies involve producers paying fees based on the materials they use, with the collected funds used to enhance recycling systems.

Walmart is also involved in discussions on recycling improvements with industry groups such as the Consumer Goods Forum Plastics Coalition and the Retail Industry Leaders Association.

Internationally, Walmart advocates for a Global Plastics Treaty, collaborating with organisations such as the Ellen MacArthur Foundation and the World Wildlife Fund.

The company aims to support the development of global regulations to create a more sustainable and circular economy.

Supplier guidance on packaging

Walmart provides tools and resources to suppliers to promote innovation in packaging design.

Resources available through Walmart’s Sustainability Hub include calculators, goal-setting tools, and best practice guides.

The Circular Connector platform connects brands with packaging innovations and the Sustainable Packaging Playbook offers guidelines to help suppliers reduce plastic use in packaging.

Customer engagement and recycling programmes

In an effort to engage customers in reducing plastic waste, Walmart has introduced several programmes.

Collection bins for plastic bags and films have been placed in US stores since 2021. These bins aim to collect recyclable materials, though contamination can affect recyclability.

Walmart’s delivery services include options for plastic bag-free delivery, and customers can choose to avoid plastic bags. In stores, reusable bags are offered to encourage customers to reduce their use of single-use plastic bags.

Pilot programmes such as the Beyond the Bag initiative explore alternatives to single-use plastic bags, involving collaboration with other retailers.

Additionally, Walmart is testing Community Recycling Units at various locations, providing drop-off points for specific recyclables.

The Walmart Foundation also supports recycling innovations through donations to organisations focused on improving recycling systems and exploring new uses for recycled materials.

These measures are part of Walmart’s broader strategy to mitigate plastic waste and improve recycling infrastructure amidst the challenges of a fragmented recycling system.