Walmart Canada announces the Walmart Canada Charter on Plastics, a milestone commitment to reduce plastic waste across its operations. The announcement builds on Walmart Inc.’s 2016 commitment to have 100 per cent recyclable private brand packaging by 2025. “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. Key commitments announced today 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® labeling 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 centers 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. A comprehensive list of commitments in the Walmart Canada Charter on Plastics is available at “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.”

The announcement builds on Walmart’s long history of supporting plastic waste reduction initiatives in Canada, including decreasing plastic bag use by 50 percent since 2016 and committing to 100 percent recyclable packaging in all private brands by 2025.  In addition, Walmart has supported Recycling Council of Ontario’s national Plastic Bag Grab Challenge in elementary schools for the past three years. In 2018 alone, the program saw 210,185 students from 635 elementary schools across Canada collect 1.9 million single-use plastic shopping bags – 15.23 metric tons of plastic – for recycling.

Plastic waste in Canada

While plastic waste is on the rise, it’s estimated that less than 11 per cent of plastic waste is currently recycled in Canada, only slightly better than the nine per cent global average according to Environment and Climate Change Canada. Addressing plastic packaging waste is challenging, as plastic packaging can often be a lower cost option and a better solution for protecting and preserving products, ensuring food safety, so that they get to customers in the best condition.  It also helps to reduce food waste, as part of the company’s commitments to zero food waste by 2025. At the moment, plastic can often be the best solution for packaging in terms of overall carbon footprint – but it doesn’t have to be the only solution available.

”Canadians recognize that plastic waste is a major global challenge, which is why we are pushing forward with a Canada-wide zero-plastic-waste strategy,” said the Honourable Catherine McKenna, Canadian Minister of Environment and Climate Change. “We know that businesses will play an important role in making sure plastics are recycled and reused – not becoming unnecessary waste. It’s inspiring to see Walmart leading change in such an important area.”

“Walmart has taken a leadership position on environmental issues, and we fully support these specific commitments to reduce plastic waste,” said Jo-Anne St. Godard, executive director, Recycling Council of Ontario. “This multi-layered plan cuts across all of the areas where Walmart can make a marked difference: internally within its own operations; in partnership with vendors and suppliers; and for its customers.”

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.

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