Walmart Canada has officially pledged to eliminate single-use plastic shopping bags, preventing almost three-quarters-of-a billion plastic bags from entering circulation each year. The changes apply to in-store purchases along with online grocery pickup and delivery orders. The phased approach will see all of Walmart's more than 400 Canadian locations make the change by Earth Day 2022.
Walmart will become one of the largest grocery retailers in the country to make this change, which is the latest step in the company's journey to becoming a regenerative company and will prevent enough plastic bags to circle the world nearly 10 times.
"Eliminating plastic shopping bags is a significant milestone on our journey to becoming a regenerative company - and it's the right thing to do," said Horacio Barbeito, President and CEO, Walmart Canada. "We know this is important for our associates and our customers. I'm so proud of our team for taking this step, the most recent in a series of significant changes to ensure we're doing right by our associates, customers and the planet and leading the way when it comes to regenerative practices."
The national roll-out follows a 10-store pilot that began in August 2021. This successful pilot received overwhelmingly positive feedback from customers and associates and diverted nearly 6 million plastic bags.
"Seeing this change roll out across the country as the store manager at one of our plastic-bag-free pilot locations is a big moment," explains Kevin Oakley, Store Manager at Walmart 3144 in Guelph, ON. "Participating in this pilot has been such a positive experience for my team, especially since we know firsthand how many single-use plastic bags we typically go through each week. Ending the use of single-use plastic bags at checkout means Walmart customers and associates are helping to make a positive impact on the environment every single day."
In advance of the change, Walmart will launch a comprehensive customer awareness and education campaign to assist in the transition to a plastic bag-free experience. Customers will be encouraged to bring reusable options from home to carry out their purchases. Low-cost, high-quality reusable options will also be available for purchase, if needed.
"Walmart's associates and customers have shown us time and time again that they're ready to step up with us to bring meaningful change to our industry," said Sam Wankowski, Chief Operations Officer, Walmart Canada.
"By ending the use of single-use plastic shopping bags, we're fundamentally changing the way Canadians shop with us for the better. This change will help to eliminate more than 10 million pounds of plastic from entering circulation each year - that's something our associates and customers can be proud of."
"Canadians have told us that it is long past time that we cleaned up the plastics littering our beaches, parks, streets and shorelines. The Government of Canada has committed to ban some single-use plastics, and I'd like to thank businesses like Walmart Canada for stepping up to meet the expectations of an environmentally conscious public." - The Honourable Steven Guilbeault, Minister of Environment and Climate Change.
Walmart is committed to eliminating unnecessary single-use plastics and has already adopted a series of changes, including:
- Eliminating plastic wrap from organic banana bunches and single peppers, which removes more than 205,000 lbs. of plastic annually.
- Increasing post-consumer recycled content in the packaging holding baked goods, avoiding the use of 925,000 lbs. of new plastics annually.
- Removing 420,000 lbs. of expanded poly styrene from entering the supply chain annually by introducing new packaging for sausage trays.
- Eliminating single-use plastic straws in-store and replacing them with paper alternatives, taking approximately 35 million single-use plastic straws out of circulation annually.