Walmart tweaks plastic bag policy for online mailers, pickup orders 

by Kim Souza ([email protected]) 1,124 views 

Walmart will transition its plastic mailer bags for online orders to bags made from recycled paper. The retailer said switching to paper for online orders will take 65 million plastic mailers out of landfills, or 2,000 tons of plastic removed from U.S. circulation by February 2024.

The retailer is also using technology to build the right size of boxes for online orders fulfilled for shipment from distribution centers. Having the right size box eliminates the need for packing materials such as plastic pillow-like space fillers.

“Our commitment to regeneration is core to who we are and how we innovate at Walmart. Customers told us how excited they are about these enhancements that make it easier for them to make more sustainable choices that support the planet and the next generation,” said Karisa Sprague, senior vice president of fulfillment network operations for Walmart U.S.

Sprague said right-sizing the boxes for online orders for shipment reduces the need for filler by 60% while reducing waste caused by oversized boxes by as much as 26%. She said this essentially means trucks are able to carry more boxes that are not oversized.

Walmart also plans to give online grocery pickup shoppers the choice to opt out of plastic bags. The retailer said customers could use recycled bags or totes in their vehicles and no longer receive groceries in single-use plastic bags. Jane Ewing, senior vice president of sustainability at Walmart, said the move from plastic bags for pickup and online delivery is another step the company is making to reduce waste. Ewing said this is also something customers have requested. Walmart expects the new bag policy to be nationwide by the end of the fiscal year.

Walmart also is giving online customers the option to consolidate orders into one delivery, perhaps a day or two later. She said Walmart is not incentivizing customers to choose the option and yet they do so because it may be easier to coordinate one delivery rather than several over multiple days. Amazon has offered the same option with a cash discount for order consolidation for more than a year.

When Walmart was asked about eliminating plastic bags for in-store purchases, Ewing said a good place to start is with online orders. She said consumer demand for the no-plastic initiative is further along in Colorado, Connecticut, New York, Maine, New Jersey and Vermont which have already abandoned plastic bags in Walmart stores.