While switching from cardboard to single-use plastic may make the packaging lighter, it’s still not ideal for the planet for a few reasons.
First, cardboard boxes are fully recyclable, and most municipalities process cardboard in their recycling programs. Recyclable cardboard is often made from post-consumer materials, and it has a high recyclable success rate of 70%.
Second, Walmart recently announced a shift toward electric trucks for some deliveries, helping to reduce its carbon footprint and decrease its production of carbon pollution. Shipping fully-recyclable containers on pollution-free trucks is better for the planet virtually 100% of the time.
Using plastic means dirty energy sources are still involved in the product, since plastic is a byproduct of dirty energy. And while some single-use plastic bags can be recycled, not all can. These flimsy bags often tear, making them not an ideal reuse candidate. Plastic is also a leading ocean polluter, poisoning wildlife and exacerbating the overheating of our planet.
Redditors were quick to blast the retail giant’s decision. “[Y]ou would hope the swap would be the other way,” wrote one user.
“We are heading in the wrong direction,” wrote another user.
One Redditor shared some insight as to why Walmart may have made the shift. “I work in packaging,” they wrote. “There have been intermittent paper shortages since COVID. It’s getting a little better now, but I’ve seen a lot of brands go from paper to cheap overseas plastic, [as] opposed to paying a few cents more per unit to get it made domestically with paper.”
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