US retail giant Walmart has committed to achieving “zero waste” in its operations in Canada, Japan, the UK and the US by 2025 – and says it will work with suppliers to prevent products and materials from becoming waste upstream and downstream.

To achieve this goal, the retailer says it will measure waste, reduce waste from non-food items and packaging, and reduce food waste in its operations.

According to the company’s 2018 Global Responsibility Report, Walmart diverted 81% of unsold products, packaging and other waste from landfills in the US in 2017 and 78% globally. In addition, the total annual waste generated from operations in the US in 2017 fell by 1% compared to the 2016 amount.

According to a World Bank Report, the world generates an average of 3.5m tonnes of solid waste per day. Furthermore, daily waste is expected to climb to 6m tonnes per day by 2025. The World Economic Forum reports that 84% of material inputs are lost to landfill or incineration annually, representing a loss of US$2.7 trillion in potentially valuable materials.

In 2005, Walmart began to look for ways to reduce waste of all kinds. Today, the retailer is engaging suppliers and customers in pursuit of the circular economy, in which products are made, consumed and recycled in a continuous loop. It looks to the Ellen McArthur Foundation approach of maintaining materials at their best and longest use.

Its 2025 agenda for reducing waste and driving towards a circular economy not only includes plans to achieve zero waste in its own operations, but also to continue working to divert waste in all other markets, moving as fast as infrastructure and best practices allow. It will also work with suppliers and customers to prevent products and materials from becoming waste upstream and downstream in pursuit of a more circular economy.

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“As in all our programmes, we seek to improve technology and data collection to enable fact-based decision-making and to maximise impact,” Walmart said. “We will also focus on collaboration with customers, suppliers, other retailers, non-profit organisations and governments to help improve the broader ecosystem of waste prevention, reuse and recycling.

“In many places around the world, for example, there is simply not adequate recycling infrastructure and even where it exists, recycling may not be financially viable. We aim to catalyse the development of system-level solutions for reuse and recycling across the sector and throughout our supply chains – not just at Walmart.”