Walmart Canada Set to Eliminate Single-Use Plastic Bags; Horacio Barbeito, Sam Wankowski, and Kevin Oakley Discuss
MISSISSAUGA, ON - As sustainability is centered in the spotlight for many shoppers planning their grocery trips, Walmart Canada has taken an enormous step in its mission to meet their demand. Recently, the retailer revealed it will eliminate single-use plastic shopping bags from all of its stores across the country. In making this move, Walmart Canada will keep almost 750 million plastic bags from entering circulation each year.
"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 Chief Executive Officer, 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."
These new changes will apply to in-store purchases as well as online grocery pickup and delivery orders, according to a press release. Taking a phased-in approach, all of the big-box chain's Canadian locations will make the change by Earth Day 2022. The national rollout follows a 10-store pilot that kicked off in August 2021 and received overwhelmingly positive feedback from consumers and associates and diverted almost six million plastic bags in the process.
"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."
This elimination of single-use plastic bags is only one of the company's latest steps in its journey to become a regenerative company and will prevent enough plastic bags to circle the globe 10 times over.
"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," explained Kevin Oakley, Store Manager at Walmart 3144 in Guelph, Ontario. "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."
Ahead of the transition, Walmart will launch a comprehensive customer awareness education campaign to assist throughout the change. The retailer's shoppers will be encouraged to bring reusable options from home to carry their purchases, and low-cost, high-quality reusable options will be available for purchase in store, if needed.
In addition to eliminated single-use plastic bags, Walmart is committed to also getting rid of unnecessary single-use plastics throughout its stores.
Recent changes made to do so include:
- 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
With sights set on becoming a regenerative company, what will be Walmart's next play in this ambitious strategy and how will it impact its network of fresh produce suppliers? Keep reading AndNowUKnow to find out.