One of Walmart’s three global sustainability goals is to create zero waste across its operations. While this goal may be bold, we continue to make measurable progress to deliver on this commitment. Walmart Canada has programs in place to divert more than a dozen waste-streams from landfill. Walmart Canada now diverts 80 per cent of its operational waste.
We believe food waste is a significant social and environmental problem. Good food should never go to waste, period.
We know how crucial food donations are to the one in five kids in Canada at risk of starting their day without breakfast and the one in ten Canadians don’t know where their next meal will come from. We also know that organic waste is bad for the environment and generates greenhouse gases. Eliminating food waste is an important priority for Walmart here in Canada and globally we are proud to be a leader in environmental sustainability.
Lost food sales are also bad for business. Processing food waste costs millions of dollars - money that would be better used lowering prices for our customers.
In Canada, Walmart stores have donated more than five million pounds of food to food banks across the country through our comprehensive food diversion program. This program pairs Walmart Canada stores with a local food bank and ensures good food is donated to those who need it most. Globally, Walmart donates one billion pounds of food in North America each year.
So what are we doing about food waste?
Our ultimate goal is to eliminate all good food going to waste. To do this:
1. Food nearing its best before date or that is not visually appealing but otherwise deemed safe for consumption is sold at a discounted price as part of our Customer Value Program;
2. We donate as much food as we can. To be able to donate more, we are funding food bank initiatives to expand their capacity to accept food donations from Walmart or any organization that has food to donate, particularly fresh produce and meat. Over the past two years the Walmart Foundation and Walmart Canada have committed millions of dollars as part of a multi-year plan to help strengthen food security and build up the charitable meal system in Canada;
3. Food deemed not safe to eat or that is damaged is sent for organic recycling in many of our stores;
4. We are working with our suppliers to improve packaging and food handling processes to maintain quality and freshness;
5. We are improving our existing store waste processes, to donate more, and working with waste partners to eliminate all organic waste we send to landfill.
The image below shows the U.S Environmental Protection Agency's Food Recovery Hierarchy. Walmart Canada uses this as a guide for our food waste management efforts:
Plastic Waste Reduction
A reduction and potential elimination of single-use shopping bags represent a tremendous opportunity to minimize the amount of waste being sent to landfills. Each year, Canadians use billions of plastic bags.
Reducing the amount of plastic sent to municipal landfill sites has been a focus for Walmart Canada since 2005. As part of that effort, Walmart has expanded the sale of reusable bags, improved in-store bag recycling programs and continues to work with its suppliers to develop innovative packaging that reduces the need for bags.
On February 9, 2016, Walmart Canada began phasing out free, single-use shopping bags at Canadian Walmart stores. In place of these bags, we are encouraging customers to use reusable bags that will be offered for 97 cents, in an effort to reduce the number of single-use bags we distribute.
Reduce: Bring your own reusable bag to help reduce waste or purchase a reusable bag from Walmart Canada.
Recycle: Return your plastic bags to your local Walmart Canada store so they can be recycled through our plastic film recycling program.
We all know the 3 “R’s” of sustainability – reduce, reuse and recycle. By working with our suppliers, we’re developing product packaging solutions that cut unnecessary waste and save our customers money. We also encourage our vendor-partners to increase recycled content in their packaging and to use materials that are recyclable.
Walmart Canada launched its Store Operations Reclamation Transformation (SORT) program in 2014 to divert general merchandise products from compactors, which would otherwise end up in municipal landfill. Since the start of the program, we have kept 34,000 pallets of product out of store compactors – this is the equivalent of 1,300 truckloads of freight!