IN PLAIN SIGHT

Programs May Not Exist in Your Area? 

Plastic bag collage on paper

18 x 12 inches

2019

Programs May Not Exist in Your Area

Walmart has made public announcements claiming efforts towards zero waste programs and better recycling education. However, they continue to use plastic bags, the most direct point for a company to move towards lessening plastic waste. Their argument? Labeling on the bags that inform the public how to recycle the product. The caveat? "Programs may not exist in your location...Must be clean...must be dry...must not be damaged..." The problem is not entirely in the consumers recycling habits and education (although another important topic). The problem starts with the companies laziness and insatiable desire for profit.

 

Walmart, “2019 Sustainability Milestone Meeting,” Youtube Video, 1:36:45, Published 10 April, 2019. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tfVWNwYYQbc&feature=youtu.be&fbclid=IwAR0ilLCKtEm57oVy3--hNklGDhnL6DZ2A866XSM6o38-DnO5LDdUNC_w-pY

Doug McMillon

"There is virtually no distinction between being a responsible citizen and a successful business." -Lee Scott 2015.

Doug MicMillon and various Walmart entities discus their movement towards a sustainable company while maintaining a profit. Countless times they address that the demand of their customers is what is shifting their goals. I found it promising. A company that is listening (or so it seems) to the demands of their consumers. That being said, Walmart still continues to use tons of plastic in their production. Especially with plastic bags for checkout. The bags are labeled, and they are hosting recycling programs, but that doesn't change the fact that recycling processes are complex. Again, 91% of recycled plastics WILL NOT BE RECYCLED. Labeling products does not change this reality.
Based on the conference, Walmart appears as a company that wants to change and can change. They can be a company that inspires other big corporations to change and value the demand of the customers. Walmart, stop with the plastic.

 

Walmart, “2019 Sustainability Milestone Meeting,” Youtube Video, 1:36:45, Published 10 April, 2019. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tfVWNwYYQbc&feature=youtu.be&fbclid=IwAR0ilLCKtEm57oVy3--hNklGDhnL6DZ2A866XSM6o38-DnO5LDdUNC_w-pY

Bratspies 

Plastic bag collage on paper

18 x 12 inches

2019

Bratspies

Walmart's ploy for "Project Gigaton," is an attempt on sustainability, but misses the point due to corporate greed. To the vendor, they offer a credit so that the vendor feels motivated to conform to a more environmentally sustainable practice. Fantastic, great. Plays the capitalist system towards bettering the future. However, one claim companies can make is labeling and education on recycling in-order-to receive said credit. Walmart itself hosts "recycling programs," to teach consumers how to recycle their products. [1]Nothing wrong with that, except the fact that it allows the scapegoat, "We [Walmart] continue to use plastic products, but by labeling them we are 'less accountable." Labeling is the answer! Just slap a logo saying, "recycle at participating stores," and climate change will be deterred...False.

              This is what they fail to analyze: There are two forms of plastic, thermoplastics and thermoset plastics. Thermoplastics can be melted down and recycled into a regenerated product. HOWEVER, plastic is made of polymers, with each regeneration to a new form polymer(s) are lost resulting in the manufacturing process to add a virgin polymer to the equation. So, still producing plastic. Thermoset plastics are absolutely horrid, involving other chemicals which result in the inability to recycle them by melting and repurposing. [2]And we haven't even touched on microplastics...
Educating the public on how to recycle and labeling your products is just fine and dandy, but it does not address the issue. The issue is we need to reduce the production of plastic products. Plastic provides companies with a safe for-profit source. [3]The reason they don’t revert back to glass or aluminum, products that are actually recyclable and fine on the environment, is because they value the security in plastic investment.
So, the question is, how do you entice companies from monetary greed towards environmental sustainability?

 

[1] Walmart, “2019 Sustainability Milestone Meeting,” Youtube Video, 1:36:45, Published 10 April, 2019. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tfVWNwYYQbc&feature=youtu.be&fbclid=IwAR0ilLCKtEm57oVy3--hNklGDhnL6DZ2A866XSM6o38-DnO5LDdUNC_w-pY

[2] “7 Things You Didn’t Know About Plastic (and Recycling),” National Geographic, 4 April 2018. Accessed 16 November 2019. https://blog.nationalgeographic.org/2018/04/04/7-things-you-didnt-know-about-plastic-and-recycling/?fbclid=IwAR2tV0NqlsBNg8DsljrQT2lrS-CZri8yO0YpTheqfnrjUQLPIMTI2B5asdA

[3] “Glass vs Plastic: 7 Factors to Consider for Packaging your Product,” The CaryCompany Accessed 16 November, 2019 https://www.thecarycompany.com/about/blog/glass-vs-plastic-packaging

Doug McMillon

Plastic bag collage on paper

18 x 12 inches

2019

©2018 by Mackenzie Madison