America’s biggest retailer, Walmart, has started to eliminate the availability of single-use bags, whether plastic or paper, at checkout. This comes in a move that has already affected customers in six states and will likely spread further.
Walmart Goes ‘Bagless’ Slower in US Than in Canada or Mexico
Earlier this month, Walmart ditched paper or plastic single-use bags from its stores’ checkout registers. This happened in New York, Colorado, and Connecticut, after previously doing it in New Jersey, Maine, and Vermont.
The move is supposed to convince Walmart customers to bring their own bags or to buy the retailer’s reusable bags, The Hill reported.
The elimination of single-use bags also applies to Walmart clients who pick up online orders. However, delivery orders in most of the six states in question are still provided in single-use paper bags, with plastic bag options reserved for meat and produce.
Jane Ewing, senior VP of Walmart Sustainability, told WTNH that the retailer sought to “reduce waste” by ditching single-use bags.
She insisted that Walmart customers were eager to be “engaged” with those efforts and the corporate giant would make “the sustainable choice” people’s “everyday choice.”
According to the website of the company’s “Bag Better” initiative, it’s supposed to eliminate bag waste altogether. Single-use bags have already been completely eliminated at Walmart’s stores in Canada and Mexico.
The Walmart site proclaims the retailer has decided to be a “zero waste company,” leading to the need to get rid of disposable bags entirely.
Even so, in the United States, the nation’s biggest retailer only moved to ditch single-use bags in states that adopted similar policies, such as bans, limits, or extra fees for such bags.
Paper? Plastic? Or none of the above?
This month, Walmart locations in three states eliminated single-use plastic and paper bags at checkout, as part of a move designed to encourage customers to bring, or buy, their own reusable bags.https://t.co/JZ5BHE0SQb
— KTLA (@KTLA) January 22, 2023
Paper bags will no longer be available at checkout at Walmart stores in Connecticut, New York and Colorado starting Wednesday.https://t.co/iCu8iwJ4AB
— The National Desk (@TND) January 17, 2023
If you forget your bags when you go into Walmart you can purchase a reusable Walmart bag for 74 cents! Didn’t see any plastic bags at all! What a joke! 🤡🤡🤡 Thank a Democrat and King Polis! pic.twitter.com/05QNt52YU3
— 🏔️🇺🇸 (@Fightfo28852270) January 12, 2023
Going Further than the States Required
Thus, in Vermont, Walmart stores did away with disposable bags in summer 2020. A similar development occurred the same month in Maine, which banned plastic bags, with Walmart acting accordingly to make its stores there “bagless.”
The three new states where Walmart no longer provides disposable bags to customers – New York, Connecticut, and Colorado – have already adopted or have plans to adopt such restrictions.
As of January 1, retailers in Colorado are obliged to charge 10 cents for a single-use paper bag, leading Walmart to end the use of all disposable bags in its stores in the state.
New York state adopted a ban on single-use plastic bags in 2020 and Connecticut did so in July 2021.
In several of these states, Walmart’s management decided to outdo the states’ disposable bag requirements by going for the total elimination of all single-use bags, even though the laws’ restrictions may be only partial.
Walmart has not revealed or hinted which states might be next in its action to eliminate single-use bags altogether.
However, it’s not expected to ease its efforts in that area. The company website makes it clear it is supporting and donating money to the “Beyond the Bag” initiative, which also includes other retailers like CVS and Target.
Walmart’s stated goal is to achieve “zero waste” in operations before 2025.