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Is Walmart Doing Away With Plastic Bags (and Will it Cost You)?

Many people have become increasingly aware of humanity’s negative environmental impacts. As a result, many avoid using straws, water bottles, and other single-use plastics. Walmart plastic bags are one of the most overused single-use plastics, evidenced by the gigantic pile of plastic bags left after putting away the weekly grocery haul.

While some shoppers will use these bags to help keep the trash out of their vehicles, many quickly develop a large stockpile of these bags and toss extras into the garbage.

So what’s the solution to the Walmart plastic bags littering our beautiful planet? Unfortunately, the answer could cost you a pretty penny, depending on where you live. Let’s take a look!

Is Walmart Doing Away With Plastic Bags? 

As awareness of the harm plastic bags causes increases, it’s become complicated for retailers to justify them.

Walmart has committed to achieving zero waste in the U.S. and Canada by 2025. The company partnered with “Beyond the Bag” in 2020 to help create a new, more environmentally-friendly retail shopping bag. 

The partnership saw businesses like Walmart, Target, and CVS put aside their rivalries to focus on the common good of the planet. The companies combined to contribute $15 million to get the campaign rolling. They sought to help identify, test, and implement a more sustainable design.

However, some states have strict bans on plastic bags. Eight states currently ban single-use plastic bags: California, Delaware, Connecticut, Maine, Hawaii, Oregon, New York, and Vermont. Shoppers in these states must pay per bag or bring reusable bags since the latter are more sustainable and better for the environment.

Park volunteer removing old plastic Walmart bag from park
Walmart will be eliminating plastic bags in an effort to go zero waste.

Do You Have to Pay for Bags at Walmart?

Some states with bans on plastic bags will charge a per-bag fee to shoppers, including those at Walmart. This will typically be a nominal fee of $.05 per bag, but the cost makes an already expensive trip to the grocery store more expensive.

However, not every state requires shoppers to pay for bags at Walmart or other stores.

Walmart #2280 in Mountain View, California, is piloting an innovative process. GOATOTE is a reusable bag program where shoppers can “check out” reusable bags. If the customers do not return the bags within 30 days, the company charges a $2 per bag fee.

Renardo Page, the store’s manager, said, “If we play our part, we can help roll something out to the nearly 5,000 stores in our company where we can lead — we can truly innovate.”

Pro Tip: Make sure to follow these 10 Unwritten Rules for Shopping at Walmart on your next shopping trip.

How Many Plastic Bags Does Walmart Hand Out in a Year?

Some estimate that Walmart hands out more than 20 billion plastic bags yearly. If you’ve taken advantage of Walmart’s online grocery shopping service, you’ll notice how generous employees can be when using plastic bags.

A family’s weekly grocery haul can result in 30+ single-use plastic bags.

After a few trips, the family has more plastic bags than they could ever need or use. While recycling options exist, far too few take advantage of them. As a result, people toss these unwanted plastic bags into the trash, and they end up in landfills. However, it takes 1,000+ years for bags to degrade while they sit in a landfill.

Can I Use My Own Bags for Walmart Grocery Pickup?

Shoppers who live in states with strict rules and regulations regarding single-use plastic bags must bring personal bags for Walmart grocery pickup orders.

However, in many states, without the bans, the associates bag the items while preparing the order. Shoppers can try to transition the products into reusable bags when they pick them up.

However, the associates aren’t likely to reuse the plastic bags, defeating the purpose of the reusable bags.

Plastic bag next to reusable bag.
Prepare to trade in your plastic bags for reusable bags when shopping at Walmart.

What Are the Blue Walmart Bags Made Of?

To help shoppers go green, Walmart offers reusable insulated grocery bags. These may be blue, but they’re the greenest and most environmentally-friendly option for shoppers. These bags are polyethylene and have an EVA foam to help insulate and protect food until you can put it away at home.

Reusable bags from Walmart have sturdy handles, are washable, and can fasten with velcro to keep your cold and frozen items cool. These budget and environmentally-friendly bags only cost a few bucks but can positively impact the environment.

What Will Stores Use Instead of Plastic Bags?

Reusable canvas bags have become incredibly popular over the past decade. These bags will most likely be what stores rely on customers to use and bring in the future.

They’re more robust and more durable and degrade at a fraction of the time of plastic bag alternatives. Canvas bags typically degrade in 10 to 100 years instead of plastic bags’ 1000+ years.

Pro Tip: Want to spend the night at Walmart? Check out these 7 Things You Should Know About Walmart Camping.

How Soon Will Walmart Plastic Bags Go Away? 

In some states and Walmart locations, plastic bags are a thing of the past. However, the company has made it a part of its 2025 goal and commitment to the planet to make some significant adjustments as a company.

They’re working to “use less packaging, design for recyclability, and improve waste reduction systems.” A greener and cleaner planet is likely one we can all agree is beneficial to humans and wildlife. If us making this small change can have an impact, it’s worth the minor inconvenience.

Do you have reusable shopping bags at home? Tell us how you limit your plastic use in the comments!

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