Walmart Doubles Down on Plastic Waste Reduction

Walmart takes steps to reduce packaging associated with online orders.

Walmart is adopting measures designed to reduce the amount of packaging waste associated with online orders. This includes moving from plastic to recyclable paper mailers, right-sizing cardboard box packaging, giving customers the option to consolidate shipping on e-commerce orders, opting out of single-use plastic bags for online pickup orders and last mile delivery efficiencies to reduce mileage and delivery times.

Reducing waste

Customers have hundreds of millions of packages shipped from Walmart each year, which is why the retailer is making it even easier for customers to reduce plastic waste. Moving forward, nearly all orders shipped in plastic mailers from fulfillment centers, stores and marketplace items shipped with Walmart Fulfillment Services, will arrive in recyclable paper bag mailers. This transition is expected to eliminate 65 million plastic bag mailers or more than 2,000 tons of plastic from circulation in the U.S. by the end of the current fiscal year.

Additionally, customers nationwide will soon have the choice to opt out of single-use plastic bags for their online Pickup orders. Early tests indicate promising adoption rates and potentially helping eliminate millions of single-use bags each year from circulation. Walmart expects to complete rollout nationwide by the end of the year.

“Our commitment to regeneration is core to who we are and how we innovate at Walmart. Customers have told us how excited they are about these enhancements to make it easier for them to make more sustainable choices that support the planet and the next generation,” said Karisa Sprague, senior vice president, Fulfillment Network Operations, Walmart U.S.

Right-sized packages and consolidated shipping

Walmart is also helping reduce the amount of cardboard used to ship products to customers by transitioning to right-sized packaging technology in approximately half of its fulfillment network. This technology helps create a package custom fitted to the customer’s order. By eliminating unused space in the box, this technology reduces the need for filler by 60% while reducing waste caused by oversized boxes by as much as 26%,1 creating a better unboxing experience for customers.

Additionally, all Walmart customers shopping online can now request consolidation of multiple items into fewer boxes, reducing waste as well as the number of shipments.

Faster delivery, fewer miles and boxes

Finally, Walmart utilizes applied AI to identify when an item purchased online can be fulfilled from stores instead of fulfillment centers. This reduces both the number of miles driven and the number of boxes used for shipping. To ensure that items can more sustainably travel from stores to customers’ homes, the retailer combines multiple orders on single delivery routes and delivers them using electric vans. By leaning on its 4,700 stores as fulfillment centers, Walmart activates its end-to-end network to speed up delivery times for customers and reduce fleet miles and emissions, in line with the retailer’s commitment to achieve zero emissions by 2040.

“With a Walmart store located within 10 miles of 90% of the U.S. population, we can make a meaningful difference for our customers by strategically using our stores and last mile delivery network to reduce waste and emissions,” said Jennifer McKeehan, senior vice president of End-to-End Delivery at Walmart U.S. “I’m proud of the efforts we’ve made and will continue to make as we keep regeneration at the forefront of delivery.”

With a 27% growth in Walmart’s eCommerce, Walmart is continuing to invest in the right omnichannel capabilities to not only meet customers’ changing needs but also to continue to grow its business and fulfillment network in a more sustainable way. The enhancements announced today represent a key milestone in Walmart’s journey to make the everyday choice the more sustainable choice for customers, regardless of how they shop. These changes, powered by technology, driven by Walmart’s purpose and activated by Walmart’s omnichannel reach, are emblematic of how the retailer is activating its commitment to becoming a more regenerative company by placing people and planet at the center of its growth.

These efforts are part of Walmart’s commitment to becoming a more regenerative company, which means prioritizing social and environmental issues that are relevant to its business, important to its stakeholders and issues where Walmart can make a positive difference.

Additional information about Walmart can be found by visiting corporate.walmart.com.

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