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Walmart Looks to Reduce Waste Through Sustainable Packaging

Jennifer Guhl
Contributor Writer
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Walmart will emphasize sustainability for the hundreds of millions of packages they ship yearly, adopting measures to reduce packaging waste for online orders, the company reports. 

With a 27% growth in Walmart's e-commerce business, the initiative is expected to eliminate 65 million plastic bag mailers or more than 2,000 tons of plastic from circulation by the end of the current fiscal year, with the rollout expected to be completed nationwide by year's end. 

Orders shipped in plastic mailers from fulfillment centers, stores, and marketplace items sent with Walmart Fulfillment Services will transition to recyclable paper bag mailers. Additional measures will include right-sizing cardboard box packaging, consolidated shipping options on e-commerce orders, opting out of single-use plastic bags for online pickup orders, and reducing mileage and delivery times for last-mile delivery. 

About half of Walmart's fulfillment network uses right-sized packaging technology to reduce packaging filler by 60%, reducing overall waste from oversized shipments by as much as 26%. Customers will also be able to consolidate their orders into fewer boxes, decreasing waste while reducing the number of overall shipments. 

With a commitment to achieve zero emissions by 2040, including long haul trucks, Walmart is empowering AI technology to identify opportunities for purchases to be fulfilled by Walmart stores instead of fulfillment centers, reducing the miles driven by their fleet of delivery vehicles. In line with its zero emissions commitment, Walmart also combines orders within delivery routes and uses electric vehicles. A Walmart store is located within 10 miles of 90% of the U.S. population, said Jennifer Mckeehan, senior vice president of end-to-end delivery. "We can make a meaningful difference for our customers by strategically using our stores and last-mile delivery network to reduce waste and emissions.” 

The company has shared an extensive plan surrounding becoming more regenerative, creating a lasting net impact on the planet through its business practices, products, and services. A goal is currently in place to power their facilities with 100% renewable energy by 2035, with 46% of their current operations powered through renewable energy.

The company also announced plans to transition low-impact refrigerants for cooling and heating in Walmart stores, clubs, data centers, and distribution centers by 2040 and work with suppliers to avoid one gigaton of greenhouse gas emissions by 2030. Over 4,500 of their suppliers have reported more than 574 million metric tons of reduced or avoided emissions since 2017. 

Drones are also helping Walmart to be more sustainable with their last-mile delivery efforts, with the company expanding its drone operations to 37 hubs in seven states and 26 municipalities. The company views the technology as a more sustainable alternative to trucks and will explore leveraging the technology to retrieve goods in the future. Amazon has also begun using drone technology for their deliveries, with a new fleet designed to endure variable weather conditions becoming operational in 2024

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