Jun 1, 2023 - Business

Walmart to cut plastic and reduce waste in e-commerce

Walmart will replace plastic mailers with a recyclable paper mailer by the end of the year. Photo: Worth Sparkman/Axios

Walmart kicked off its annual shareholders' and associate celebration on Wednesday, where more than 10,000 employees from around the world convened to tour stores and see headquarters.

Catch up quick: The weeklong event is also when shareholders get business updates and vote on proposals to shape the company's future.

Here's what happened on Day 1:

1. The company is set to announce initiatives to reduce waste and use of plastic in its online business, including:

  • Switching from plastic mailer envelopes to recyclable paper mailers by the end of the year;
  • Rolling out technology in its fulfillment centers to help "right-size" cardboard shipping boxes so a single item isn't sent in a too-large container;
  • Offering customers the option to consolidate their online shipments;
  • Giving customers the ability to opt out of single-use plastic bags used in online pick-up orders across the U.S. by the end of the year.

Between the lines: The changes aim to make it easier for customers to recycle and potentially eliminate from circulation millions of single-use bags.

  • The company claims the move to paper mailers will eliminate 65 million plastic envelopes — or 2,000 tons of plastic — by the end of its fiscal 2023, which ends in January 2024.

Zoom out: Walmart has stated sustainability goals of zero waste in its operations in key markets and for 100% of its private brand packaging to be recyclable, reusable, or compostable by 2025.

Walmart's Jane Ewing, Jennifer McKeehan, and Karisa Sprague talk about the company's sustainability efforts. Photo: Worth Sparkman/Axios

2. Shareholders voted in favor of the company's proposals and opposed all external recommendations, including a floor proposal to limit the company's political action committee from supporting candidates who oppose democracy. (Read our coverage of shareholder proposals.)

3. The company announced that it raised pay for about 3,700 U.S. pharmacists to an average of more than $140,000, not including bonuses and benefits, and for 4,000 U.S. opticians to an average of $22.50 an hour.

A Walmart spokesperson said its wages vary by location so it couldn't provide historical data on earnings before the raises, but according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics the average median wage for pharmacists was $128,570 in 2021, and opticians earned a mean hourly wage of $21.58 in 2022.


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