Leadership in environmental sustainability and reducing the environmental impact play an essential role in the activities of Walmart Canada. We are committed to reducing our environmental footprint by selling products that are routed to the market in a sustainable way, reducing energy consumption and reducing the amount of waste sent to landfills.
In 2015, Walmart Canada stores were powered with 20,004 MWh of green electricity and through a $16.8 million investment in that same year, 110 Walmart Canada stores were retrofit with LED lights. The total chain is expected to be retrofit by 2019 resulting in a reduction of Walmart Canada’s greenhouse gas emissions by 28,000 tonnes of CO2 annually.
In November 2010, Walmart Canada opened its sustainable Balzac Fresh Food Distribution Centre, a facility that uses hydrogen fuel cells to power forklifts as well as solar, thermal and wind power. This cutting-edge facility is an estimated 60 per cent more energy-efficient than the company's traditional refrigerated distribution centres allowing it to cut costs by $4.8 million over a 5-year period.
Waste is a significant issue in Canada, which is why we’ve made addressing it a priority. Walmart is taking a leadership role on waste reduction with our milestone commitment to sending zero waste to landfill by 2025. This goal may be bold, but we continue to make measurable progress to deliver against this commitment. Currently, 87% of waste at Walmart Canada is diverted from landfill, thanks to our focus on reducing waste across our operations, including specific plastic and food waste reduction initiatives.
Plastic Waste Reduction
Plastic waste is a global problem that directly affects Canada’s future. While plastic waste is on the rise, it’s estimated that less than 11% of plastic waste is currently recycled in Canada, only slightly better than the 9% global average. That issue is made worse by the fact that many plastic items are only used once before they are discarded, including the one billion single-use plastic bags handed out in Canada every year and 57 million plastics straws that are thrown out every day.
In the face of this global challenge, Walmart Canada is committing to reducing unnecessary plastic waste and increased plastic recycling. Walmart Canada’s Charter on Plastics provides more detail on our commitment to reduce plastic waste across our operations, building on a global plastic reduction strategy.
Walmart Canada is pursuing a three-pronged strategy:
1.Use less plastic: Find viable alternatives to plastic and seek to reduce or eliminate plastic packaging where possible. 2. Recycle more:Where packaging is required in our private label brands, work to ensure it is 100% recyclable and increase the recycled content of the packaging. 3. Support improvements to the plastic waste reduction system:Partner with innovators to develop environmentally preferable options to plastics and promote expanding recycling capabilities across Canada.
To use less plastic, Walmart Canada is: Reducing check-out plastic bags by a further 50 per cent by 2025, taking approximately 1 billion check-out bags out of circulation over that period Eliminating all PVC and expanded polystyrene packaging in Walmart’s own private brands by 2025 Eliminating unnecessary plastic packaging in Walmart’s own private brand products
Eliminating single-use plastic straws and replacing them with paper alternatives by 2020Providing customers with more environmentally-friendly alternatives to single-use plastic household products, including utensils, plates and cups Eliminating all single-use plastics from cafeterias at Walmart Canada’s corporate offices and distribution centres by the end of 2019
Torecycle more Walmart Canada is: Committing to 100% recyclable packaging in all Walmart’s own private brands by 2025 and using no less than 20% recycled content in our plastic packaging by 2025 Developing design guides for our suppliers to help them reduce unnecessary plastic packaging Helping to make it easier for customers to recycle plastic film and other packaging through initiatives like The Plastic Bag Grab Challenge, a program developed by Recycling Council of Ontario that encourages students to learn and take action on plastic waste by reducing their use, while collecting discarded plastic bags for recycling in their schools and beyond
Becoming the first Canadian retailer to publicly commit to using How2Recycle labelling on all our own private brand products by 2025 Partnering with governments, manufacturers and other stakeholders, to work towards reducing unnecessary plastic packaging and increasing plastic recycling Proud to be a founding partner of the Plastic Action Centre, a unique knowledge hub solely dedicated to plastic waste education and reduction across Canada and beyond A founding member of the Canadian Circular Economy Leadership Coalition which seeks to foster collaboration among industries, experts, communities and all levels of government A supporter of the G7 Ocean Plastics Charter, which seeks to move toward a more resource-efficient and sustainable approach to the management of plastics A signatory to the Ellen MacArthur Foundation’s New Plastics Economy Global Commitment, which commits to eliminating all problematic and unnecessary plastic items Enacting the Closed Loop Fund to engage the industry in supporting recycling infrastructure (one of the major gaps in the circular economy) and supporting the major NGO/industry consortia studying the issue (Ellen MacArthur Foundation, Ocean Conservancy, Trash Free Seas Alliance) Working with The Walmart Foundation, which will provide support for Canadian initiatives aimed at reducing plastic waste
We believe food waste is a significant social and environmental problem. Good food should never go to waste, period.
In Canada, Walmart stores have donated more than 11 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?
Walmart Canada has committed to achieving zero food waste by 2025, building on business and philanthropic initiatives to eliminate waste and relieve hunger that have been underway since 2005. Walmart Canada reduced food waste in its own operations by 23 percent between 2015 and 2017.
The company’s journey to achieving this goal will continue to be guided by a three-part strategy:
Improving operational efficiencies while enhancing value to the customer by efforts such as: Discounting repackaged bruised or peak-freshness produce through Walmart’s $1/$2 Bag Program and reducing prices with Walmart’s Customer Value Program to allow for the quick sale of fresh meat, bakery, dairy and produce items approaching their best-before dates Improving bakery production operations to reduce over-production and create more consistent quality Providing additional processes, training and resources to associates Implementing organic recycling programs in 338 stores and distribution centre locations across Canada, allowing facilities to recycle unsaleable and unsafe food into compost and energy instead of sending it to landfill
Increasing food donations: All Walmart Canada stores will be paired with local food banks to maximize surplus food donations, with approximately 85 per cent of stores regularly donating their surplus food products. Through a similar program in Walmart US, Walmart has been able to provide millions of pounds of much-needed fresh food into the charitable meal system
Providing philanthropic support: Walmart Canada has committed $1 million CAD to Food Banks Canada for the 2018 Fight Hunger. Spark Change. Campaign in support of food banks across the country.
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:
Our customers have high expectations of us – and they should. They expect us to bring them a broad assortment of merchandise at everyday low prices. They also want products that are produced responsibly. We believe customers shouldn’t have to choose between products they can afford and products that are produced in an environmentally responsible way.
In partnership with our suppliers and NGO stakeholders, we’re working hard to exceed those expectations. We’re making sustainability an essential part of how we source merchandise around the world. In doing so, Walmart is taking a leading role globally in addressing the most important issues facing the consumer goods industry, helping our suppliers become more competitive businesses, creating a more resilient supply chain and increasing our customers’ trust in us and the brands we carry.