Is Walmart Zero Waste + Other Common Questions! [Important Guide]

The environmental movement has made significant progress over the years, and many corporations are now taking responsibility for their environmental impact. One such corporation is Walmart, which generates a considerable amount of waste every year. It’s only fair that they step in and become part of the solution instead of just being part of the problem.

So, the question is, is Walmart making a difference in reducing waste, and can they be considered a zero-waste company? Read on to find out!

Walmart, Image Credit: Walmart

Is Walmart Zero Waste?

If you’re wondering whether Walmart is zero waste, the answer is not yet. However, the company has made a commitment to achieving zero-waste operations by 2025. Walmart has reported that most of its waste reduction efforts have been accomplished through recycling and donation programs. Furthermore, Walmart has also made an effort to sell zero-waste products in its stores. If you’re interested in learning more about Walmart’s zero-waste initiatives, recycling programs, or how the company deals with unsold food, keep reading for more information.

What Is Walmart’s Zero Waste Program?

Back in 2005, Walmart’s CEO Lee Scott announced the company’s ambitious plan to achieve zero-waste operations by reducing landfill-bound waste to nothing. They enlisted Vonda Lockwood to lead the program, and the Environmental Defense Fund monitored their progress.

Walmart’s program prioritized reusing and recycling over incineration as a waste diversion method. They aimed to achieve this by measuring their waste, reducing non-food item and packaging waste, and minimizing food waste in their operations.

By partnering with Feeding America, Walmart managed to divert millions of pounds of food waste and 4.6 billion pounds of cardboard waste by 2011. The company also announced a reduction of 20 million tons of greenhouse gas emissions in its 2018 Global Responsibility Report.

To encourage sustainability from their suppliers, Walmart created the Walmart Sustainability Hub, an online platform that allows suppliers and partners to manage their participation and reporting for Walmart’s major sustainability initiatives. The site provides helpful tools such as waste reduction tips and carbon emissions calculations.

For more information on Walmart’s global sustainability initiatives, visit their Global Responsibility page. While Walmart has not yet achieved zero waste, they have made significant strides in reducing waste and promoting sustainability.

Walmart NYC
Walmart NYC, Photo Credit: Elizabeth Wright

Does Walmart Sell Zero Waste Products?

Walmart may not be the first place you think of when it comes to zero-waste products, but there are a few options available. One Redditor discovered zero/low-waste soap bars on the shelves, for example. While the selection may not be extensive, there are some great guides out there to help you make your Walmart trip as close to zero waste as possible., for example, suggests bringing reusable bags, making a list and sticking to it to avoid impulse purchases, and buying produce that isn’t packaged. If you must buy packaged items, she recommends avoiding plastic and instead opting for items in glass, aluminum, or cardboard that are easily recyclable.

With Walmart’s huge selection of hundreds of thousands of items, there are plenty of choices available to help you make the most sustainable choice possible.

Does Walmart Have A Recycling Program?

Walmart used to have a partnership with Waste Management for recycling programs that allowed customers to drop off clean glass, plastic, metal, and paper products. The program had bins set up in some Walmart parking lots. Unfortunately, the program was eventually phased out because people were not following the proper recycling instructions, and it was too expensive to maintain and access the bins.

Currently, Walmart still recycles plastic bags and bottles. If you are interested in learning more about Walmart’s recycling efforts, you can visit their website or check out their sustainability initiatives page.

Are Walmart Bags Biodegradable?

Walmart’s regular plastic grocery bags are not biodegradable, but they do offer on-premise bag recycling and sell reusable bags. In 2018, Walmart started handing out biodegradable bags on the first day of Wasilla, Alaska’s ban on single-use plastic bags, but planned to charge 10 cents for each bag. However, these bags have not yet been widely available.

Walmart is moving towards a bagless system in some markets, such as in Mexico, where over 70% of their stores no longer offer bags. The company also launched a pilot program in Vermont to test a bagless Walmart chain in the US. Furthermore, Walmart co-sponsored the Beyond the Bag Innovation Challenge to find a sustainable solution to the bag problem, and the winners offered solutions ranging from digital to chemical, such as seaweed and starch-based compostable materials.

Can You Recycle Plastic Bags At Walmart?

Recycling plastic bags has become easier thanks to Walmart’s partnership with the How2Recycle program. Many Walmart stores have How2Recycle bins located near the entrance where customers can drop off their grocery bags, newspaper bags, produce bags, zipper sandwich bags, and most plastic wraps, such as those around paper towels or bottled water. Additionally, plastic pouches and mailer pouches can also be recycled, such as those used for dishwasher detergent pods and Amazon purchases.

How2Recycle bins can also be found in front of some Targets, Lidls, and Wegmans stores, making recycling even more convenient. To learn more about Walmart’s on-premise recycling program, you can read this article.

What Does Walmart Do With Unsold Food?

Walmart has taken up the cause of reducing food waste, which is a huge problem in the United States, accounting for 30-40 percent of the total food supply.

As the country’s leading seller of groceries, Walmart can make a big impact in this area, and it has implemented several strategies to address the issue.

Firstly, the company aims to improve its supply chain operations to create less food waste in the first place.

Secondly, Walmart donates perfectly good food that has passed its sell-by date to people in need.

Finally, non-edible food is converted to animal feed, compost, or fuel/fertilizer.

Walmart has been committed to reducing food waste since 2005 and in 2008, it built its own infrastructure to further this goal.

Walmart, Image Credit: Walmart

Moreover, the company has implemented a more uniform “Best if Used By” labeling system on its products, making it easier for shoppers to know when a product is past its peak freshness but is still safe to consume.

If you want to learn more about shopping at Walmart, you may also want to check out other topics like what the company does with returns, whether Walmart is an ethical company, and whether Walmart accepts bottle returns.

Also Read: Walmart Donation Program


In conclusion, Walmart is making significant strides towards achieving its zero-waste goal by 2025. With various initiatives, such as their bag recycling program in many stores and their efforts to reduce food waste, Walmart is using its power as a leading retailer to create a more sustainable presence on our planet. Additionally, the company has also made efforts to reduce carbon emissions and greenhouse gases. It’s inspiring to see a corporation of such a large scale take responsibility and work towards reducing its impact on the environment.