Reducing Plastic Shopping Bag Waste by 33 Percent
" By reducing the number of plastic bags our customers use, increasing the availability and affordability of reusable bags and providing recycling solutions, we think we can eliminate plastic waste equivalent to 9 billion plastic bags per year from our existing stores alone. If we can encourage consumers to change their behavior, just one bag at a time, we believe real progress can be made toward our goal of creating zero waste."
On September 25, 2008, at the Clinton Global Initiative Annual Meeting, Wal-Mart committed to reducing its global plastic shopping bag waste by an average of 33 percent per store by 2013. This is expected to eliminate more than 135 million pounds of plastic waste globally. To help reach this goal, we will reduce the number of bags given out by our stores, encourage the use of reusable bags and give customers the ability to continue recycling plastic shopping bags.
This comprehensive bag reduction strategy is being developed in partnership with Environmental Defense Fund (EDF). The goal could have far-reaching environmental and economic benefits. It is estimated that roughly 60-80 percent of all marine debris is plastic. Reducing plastic shopping bag waste could also help reduce government expenditures. According to Californians Against Waste the state of California spends approximately $25 million per year to discard plastic bags into landfills.
Wal-Mart's commitment to reduce plastic bag waste globally by 33 percent includes a 25 percent reduction from U.S. stores and a 50 percent reduction from our international operations. Our stores across the globe 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:
- Reduce: Decrease the amount of plastic going into our bags and also ensure bags are being loaded properly, reducing the number of plastic bags needed per trip to the store.
- Reuse: Increase reusable bag use among our customers by making them accessible and affordable and educating customers on the benefits of reusable bags.
- Recycle: Increase number of plastic bags being recycled.
As part of the goal to reduce plastic bag waste, Wal-Mart stores in several markets have introduced new, more affordable reusable bags. In April 2008 Wal-Mart de Mexico introduced reusable bags and in early September reduced the price by one-third. In the U.S., Walmart began offering reusable bags in October 2008 for 50 cents each.
Our efforts could reduce energy consumption by approximately 678,000 barrels of oil per year and reduce carbon dioxide emissions by 290,000 metric tons per year — equivalent to taking more than 53,000 passenger vehicles off the road annually.