Building off a two-year-long pilot program in California, giant retailer Walmart has updated its waste reduction policies for all of its 4,400 stores, distribution centers and locations across the United States. Its ultimate aim: zero waste to landfill.
In California, Walmart is now diverting more than 80 percent of its store waste from landfills. It is doing this through a variety of programs:
- By recycling more than 30 materials (including cardboard, paper, aluminum) through a "super sandwich bale" program. What cannot be recycled, such as wooden pallets or certain plastics, are resent to return centers for reuse or different sorts of recycling processes.
- Donating certain unpurchased food items to food banks. (Last year, it donated 256 million pounds of food, or about 197 million meals.)
- Reusing expired food items for feedstock or composting, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's food waste hierarchy suggestions.
Said Walmart U.S. President and CEO Bill Simon:
"We are committed to buying, operating and selling for less, and our waste program is a great example of developing new ideas that help us save our customers money. Through this program, we are able to provide the raw materials needed to make new products, recycle millions of pounds of commodities and reduce the environmental impact of landfills."
The video below provides more details on the progress in California:
If Walmart were to achieving an 80 percent waste-to-landfill reduction across the United States, it would be the equivalent of diverting 11.8 million metric tons of carbon dioxide emissions annually. The company hasn't said when it hopes to achieve these rates, but keep in mind that the California initiative has been in place for almost two years.