Walmart Is Getting Rid of Single-Use Bags at Dozens More Locations Tomorrow
The store is expanding its eco-conscious initiative to another state this week.
Walmart is one retailer that seems to be ahead of the curve when coming up with ways to win over its customers. The store now provides everything from a home delivery service that unloads groceries right into shoppers' refrigerators to drones that can ferry orders to your front door in as little as 30 minutes. But the company is also making changes with the environment in mind, including getting rid of single-use bags at dozens more of its stores. Read on to see which locations will be affected when the policy takes effect tomorrow.
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The retailer has been rolling out a new bag policy since 2021.
Depending on where you live, you may have noticed Walmart making some changes at checkout counters in the last few years. As part of its efforts to become a zero-waste entity, in 2020 the company joined the Beyond the Bag Consortium along with other retailers "to identify bagging options that are convenient and advance reusability." Initially, the company began by removing single-use paper and plastic bags from stores in Vermont and Maine in 2021 before New Jersey locations followed suit. The list will grow even more in 2023: On Jan. 1, Colorado Walmart stores rang in the new year by adopting the new bag policy ahead of New York locations dropping all paper bags on Jan. 18.
"We are working hard to ensure a seamless and convenient shift to reusable bags for our customers and associates," Lauren Willis, global communications director for Walmart in the western U.S., said in a statement announcing the Colorado changes. "Eliminating single-use bags is part of our commitment to achieve zero waste across our operations and ultimately shift gradually toward a circular economy built on advancing reuse, refill, and recycling habits." Willis also previously clarified to Best Life that "reusable bags are available starting at $0.33 for those who wish to purchase one."
Now, more Walmart locations will be adopting the policy.
Walmart stores in another state will stop using almost all single-use bags as of tomorrow.
Walmart shoppers in Connecticut will soon have to remember to bring their own totes from home or purchase some of their own. On Jan. 18, the store's 33 locations across the state will discontinue the use of single-use plastic and paper bags for customers at checkout or pickup orders, local ABC affiliate WTNH reports.
The company clarifies that it will still be using paper bags for delivery orders for the time being. The stores will also still provide single-use bags in areas where law requires them to prevent food contamination.
The change marks the end of the store's current policy, which was implemented after a new state law was enacted in July 2021. Those rules eliminated single-use totes and charged customers a fee for slightly thicker plastic bags that could be reused up to 125 times.
"Eliminating single-use bags in Connecticut is part of our effort to reduce waste," Senior Vice President of Walmart Sustainability Jane Ewing said in a statement, per WTNH. "Our customers want to be engaged on this journey, and we remain committed to making the sustainable choice the everyday choice."
Best Life reached out to Walmart for more information on the Connecticut bag policy change, but has not yet heard back.
Some shoppers are supportive of the eco-friendly change.
According to the company, the new policy should save 1.2 billion plastic and paper bags annually across the six states, local NBC affiliate WJAR reports. And even though it can be challenging to adapt to changes—especially when it comes to convenience at your top shopping destination—the eco-friendly policy shift already appears to be catching on.
"The plastic bag ban, you know, was tough to do and customers didn't react so well, but after a while, they got used to it and they adapted to it so I think the same will come with this," Mike Lombardi, store manager of Walmart's Lisbon, Connecticut location, told WJAR. He added that reusable bags in his store were available for purchase ranging from $0.74 to $2.
Another shopper noted that the progression of the policy felt like the right move. "Personally, I think it's a good thing, I think it's good not to have the paper bags because we're saving trees, and I think it's better for the environment," Walmart shopper Lisa Long told WJAR.
Critics have pointed out some flaws with the well-intentioned single-use bag policy.
But not all Walmart customers think the policy is perfect just yet. Some customers point out that the changes could lead to more bags making their way into circulation.
"For me, who already has a bunch of bags and the one day I forget it's just going to stink," Walmart shopper Corrie Hoyt told WJAR. "They're paper, I don't really get why they're getting rid of them."
Walmart shoppers in Canada—where the retailer already phased out single-use bags as of April 2022—have also taken to social media to air their grievances. "Really appreciate the fact that @WalmartCanada has phased out plastic bags for recyclable ones but this was the number of bags I got from one grocery delivery," one customer tweeted on Aug. 17, along with a photo of a pile of blue reusable Walmart bags. "There is no way I can reuse all of them. If Walmart can have a takeback program to reuse them that would be nice."
And despite the recent changes, the company is still experimenting with more ways to reduce bags. For example, in 2021, the retailer announced that its Mountain View, California location had begun test piloting a new system called GOATOTE. Customers can use an app to "check out" and borrow reusable bags for free under the condition that they're returned to the store within 30 days, charging anyone who misses the deadline $2 to keep them.