Walmart adds new goals to sustainability effort, including 15% plastic reduction

Dan Berthiaume
Senior Editor, Technology
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Walmart is adding several commitments to its effort to become a regenerative company.

Walmart is embarking on several new initiatives across its supply chain as part of a push to become a more regenerative company.

After launching a set of ambitious sustainability goals, including reaching zero emissions across its global operations by 2040, in September 2020, Walmart has added number of new commitments, including a goal of a 15% absolute reduction of its virgin plastic footprint by 2025, which includes any plastic that is produced from new materials, rather than recycled ones.  The retailer intends to reduce the amount of plastic used altogether, as well as replace it with recycled content and reused materials. This is in addition to Walmart’s existing target to achieve 100% recyclable, reusable or industrially compostable private-brand packaging by 2025.

Walmart said  it is striving toward becoming a “regenerative” company – one that places nature and humanity at the center of its business and works to restore, renew, replenish and preserve the planet.

In apparel, Walmart is expanding the scope for its goal to source 100% more sustainable cotton and 50% recycled polyester for private brand apparel and soft home textile products by 2025. Those goals have moved beyond Walmart U.S. to include Sam’s Club U.S. and Walmart Canada private brand apparel and home textiles, as well.

Additionally, by 2025, Walmart U.S. will require suppliers to ensure that no manmade cellulosic fibers, including rayon/viscose, modal, lyocell, acetate and trademarked versions, sourced for Walmart U.S. private brand apparel and soft home textile products are derived from ancient or endangered forests, or from endangered species’ habitats or other controversial sources, as defined by the nonprofit organization Canopy’s tools and reports.

Another new sustainability program is a commitment to begin purchasing Pacific Island Tuna (PIT) products for Walmart’s in-house brand, Great Value. Pacific Island Tuna is a new partnership between nonprofit The Nature Conservancy and the Republic of the Marshall Islands, with a portion of the profits anticipated to be directed back to Pacific Island communities. The initiative has been set up to deliver industry-leading environmental, labor and traceability standards.

Walmart Canada will purchase what the company says is the largest known quantity of beef from certified sustainable Canadian farms and ranches ever sourced by a single retailer in Canada, in accordance with sustainability standards set by the Canadian Roundtable for Sustainable Beef (CRSB).

Walmart announced its new sustainability goals at the 2021 Sustainability Milestone Summit, a meeting of the company’s suppliers, NGO partners, and associates to share information on regeneration projects. Watch the Sustainability Milestone Summit here.

While our Sustainability Milestone Summit is an annual moment of reflection and inspiration, the progress showcased at this year’s forum also served as a reminder of what’s possible when everyone gets on board to change the future for better,” said Jane Ewing, senior VP, sustainability, Walmart, in a corporate blog post. “As we look ahead, we are thankful to our partners for pushing us and each other, our associates for doing the heavy lifting, and our leaders for recognizing the need for urgent action. Leadership takes courage—and we’re committed to leading.”