The Walmart Canada Charter on Plastics is a milestone commitment to reduce plastic waste across its operations. The Charter builds on Walmart Inc.’s 2016 commitment to have 100 per cent recyclable private brand packaging by 2025.

As a signatory to the G7 Oceans Plastics Charter and the New Plastics Economy Global Commitment being led by the Ellen MacArthur Foundation, in collaboration with the UN Environment, Walmart is working globally to reduce plastic waste within its operations and throughout its value chain and has committed to zero waste across operations in four key markets, including Canada by 2025. Last year Walmart Canada committed to zero food waste by 2025. Currently, 87 per cent of waste at Walmart Canada is diverted from landfill.

“Reducing unnecessary plastic waste and increasing plastic recycling are key priorities for Walmart – and for our customers,” said Lee Tappenden, president and CEO, Walmart Canada. “As the world’s largest retailer and producer of private brand products, we want to use our size and scale to take a leadership role in reducing plastic waste in Canada.”

Tappenden said the retailer will address plastic waste in Canada using a three-pronged strategy: using less plastic, recycling more plastic, and supporting improvements to the plastic waste reduction system.This announcement builds on Walmart’s long history of supporting plastic waste reduction initiatives in Canada, including decreasing plastic bag use by 50 per cent since 2016 and committing to 100 per cent recyclable packaging in all private brands by 2025. 

Key commitments include:

  • Reducing check-out plastic bags by a further 50 per cent by 2025, taking approximately 1 billion check-out bags out of circulation over that period
  • Eliminating single-use plastic straws and replacing them with paper alternatives by 2020, taking approximately 35 million single-use plastic straws out of circulation annually
  • Achieving 100 per cent recyclable, reusable or compostable packaging for its own private brand products by 2025
  • Eliminating “hard-to-recycle” PVC and expanded polystyrene packaging from all its own private brand products by 2025
  • Targeting at least 20 per cent post-consumer recycled content in private brand packaging by 2025
  • Providing customers with more environmentally-friendly alternatives to single-use plastic household products, including utensils, plates and cups
  • Becoming the first Canadian retailer to publicly commit to using How2Recycle® labelling on all its own private brand products by 2025
  • Eliminating unnecessary plastic packaging in its own private brand products starting in 2019
  • Eliminating all single-use plastics from cafeterias at Walmart Canada’s corporate offices and distribution centres by the end of 2019

Globally, Walmart and the Walmart Foundation are focused on supporting philanthropic initiatives which reduce plastic waste, such as materials innovation, enhancing collection and sortation infrastructure, and strengthening recycling habits.

“By reducing plastic waste in our operations and our own private brand products and offering viable alternatives to single-use plastics for our customers, we hope to create broader change that extends far beyond Walmart,” said Tappenden. “I’m proud to be making these changes and supporting innovations in the plastics and recycling sectors to help reduce Canada’s plastic waste footprint.”

As part of Walmart’s further commitment to sustainability, Walmart set three aspirational goals:

  • To be supplied 100 per cent by renewable energy
  • To create zero waste
  • To sell products that sustain people and the environment

As it relates to waste reduction, Walmart Canada diverts 81 per cent of its operational waste from landfill. Comparatively, the recycling rate for businesses in the Industrial, Commercial & Institutional (IC&I) segment is approximately 30 per cent. In 2016, Walmart Canada began asking customers to switch from single-use plastic shopping bags to reusable bags, and offering discounted reusable bags as well as improved five-cent plastic bags. In doing so, we are allocating part of the proceeds from the five-cent fee to plastic film recycling initiatives.

From retrofitting stores with LED lights, ensuring the palm oil in private-brand products is sustainably harvested, to diverting over a dozen different waste-streams from landfill, Walmart is taking a broad approach to their sustainability goals.