Wal-Mart sets goal to reduce its global plastic shopping bag waste by one-third
Sept. 29, 2008 – Wal-Mart
Canada Corp. today joined all Wal-Mart operations worldwide in a global
commitment to reduce plastic shopping bag waste by an average of 33 per
cent per store by 2013.
Wal-Mart Canada has set
its own goal of a 50-per cent reduction, having already reduced plastic
shopping bag waste by 15 per cent this year. The company has a
long-term goal to be a zero-waste operation.
Wal-Mart Canada will reduce plastic bag waste through existing and
future strategies, including exploring new technologies, encouraging
cashiers and customers to take a restrained approach to bag use,
promoting the use of reusable bags, and recycling used plastic bags.
"Globally and locally we have chosen not to ignore the environmental
impact of plastic-bag waste," said Jim Thompson, Wal-Mart Canada's
senior vice president of operations. "Wal-Mart's commitment to
eliminating waste and the challenges it represents are bold. But, in
partnership with our 77,000 associates and the one million Canadians
who walk through our doors each day, the opportunity for an immense
environmental win is literally right in our hands."
Wal-Mart's global commitment to reduce plastic shopping bag waste by 33
per cent by 2013 and a related partnership with Environmental Defense
Fund (EDF) was announced today at the Clinton Global Initiative, a
forum convened by former U.S. president Bill Clinton to drive global
Globally, this goal is expected to eliminate the equivalent of 9
billion plastic bags worth of waste, and could have far-reaching
environmental and economic benefits. It could reduce energy consumption
by approximately 678,000 barrels of oil per year and reduce CO2
emissions by 290,000 metric tons per year – equivalent to taking more
than 53,000 passenger vehicles off the road annually.
"By pledging to cut its bag waste by one-third by 2013, Wal-Mart is
taking a clear step forward in reducing global waste," said Gwen Ruta,
vice president for corporate partnerships at Environmental Defense
Fund. "Plastic bags clog our landfills, litter our roadways, harm sea
turtles and other wildlife, and gobble energy in production. With this
initiative, Wal-Mart is demonstrating that innovation leads to both
business and environmental benefits – a premise that underpins EDF's
work. I look to retailers everywhere to do the same."
Across the globe, Wal-Mart operations have the flexibility to meet this
goal through a three-pronged strategy of reduce, reuse and recycle.
Options for meeting the goal include, but are not limited to the
Reduce: Decrease the amount of plastic contained in bags and
ensure they are loaded properly, reducing the number of plastic bags
needed per trip to the store. Much of Wal-Mart Canada's plastic-waste
reductions to-date are related to its recent decision to reduce the
size and gauge of its plastic bags, resulting in an expected reduction
of two million pounds of plastic resin this year.
Reuse: Increase reusable bag use among Wal-Mart customers by
making them accessible and affordable and educating customers on the
benefits of reusable bags. Since late 2007, Wal-Mart Canada has
introduced re-usable shopping bags made of recyclable materials. True
to Wal-Mart's focus on saving Canadians money so they can live better,
each 97-cent re-usable bag has the equivalent capacity of three plastic
bags, believed to be the most cost-efficient option of its kind in the
Recycle: Increase the amount of plastic bags being recycled, and
close the loop on recycled plastic. Through in-store recycling depots,
Wal-Mart Canada invites customers to return and recycle used plastic
bags from any retailer.
The company has committed to three long-term sustainability goals:
1. To produce zero waste;
2. To be powered 100 per cent by renewable energy; and,
3. To make more environmentally preferable products available to customers