The world’s largest retailer, Walmart, used its annual sustainability summit to reveal that checkouts at its US stores will offer reusable bags made from post-consumer recycled content for the first time, alongside an update to its Project Gigaton supply chain emissions programme.
Walmart will begin rolling out the reusable bags in US stores next month as part of a pledge to ensure that the retailer’s private brand packaging is 100% recyclable, reusable or industrially compostable by 2025.
The retailer already stocks reusable bags, but the new launch is aimed at increasing uptake across its 4,756 stores. The bags will be available for 98 cents and are the first time Walmart has offered bags made with recycled content.
At the 2019 sustainability milestone summit, Walmart also provided an update to its Project Gigaton – a pledge to eliminate the equivalent of more than the annual emissions of Germany from the Walmart supply chain. Walmart notes that 90% of its total emissions come from the supply chain.
The platform sees Walmart work with suppliers to avoid one billion metric tonnes (a gigatonne) of emissions from its global value chain by 2030. Two years into the project, Walmart has reported that 93 million metric tonnes of emissions have been avoided. Walmart Canada has now joined the project, the third international market to work on this goal.
“We are encouraged by the engagement of our suppliers in Project Gigaton,” Walmart’s vice president and chief sustainability officer Kathleen McLaughlin said. “To achieve our ambitious climate goals, we aim to expand and deepen that engagement. The progress to date shows how companies can contribute to climate action through practical actions all along the product supply chain.
“Ultimately, building sustainable supply chains requires collective action from everyone – not only our associates and suppliers, but customers, business in general, and civil society. We are excited to be part of the solution.”
Walmart will aim to spur progress amongst suppliers and make it easier for others to enlist in the programme by publishing calculators used by suppliers for reporting purposes.
Walmart was the first retailer to adopt a science-based emissions reduction plan, with an aim to reduce its absolute Scope 1 and 2 emissions by 18% by 2025. The retailer has reported that completed wind and solar projects have created an additional estimated 2.14 billion kilowatt hours of renewable energy annually – the equivalent electricity usage of over 260,000 homes in a year.
The retailer aims to be 100% powered by renewable energy, reaching a 50% target by the end of 2025. As of 2017, an estimated 28% of the company’s electricity needs globally were supplied by renewable sources.
In relation to energy, electric vehicle (EV) charging stations are now available at stores across 29 states.
Walmart also used the summit to announce new sustainability goals for resource efficiency and sourcing of apparel and soft home textiles. By 2025, Walmart will aim to increase the use of recycled polyester fibre to 50%, and to source 100% sustainable cotton.
By 2022, Walmart US stores will source apparel and home textile products from suppliers working with textile mills that use the Sustainable Apparel Coalition’s Higg Index Facility Environmental Module (FEM).