A worker seals a recyclable fiber package at a Walmart shipping facility. | Courtesy of Walmart

An e-commerce packaging change by Walmart may mean fewer plastic mailers and more recyclable fiber ones coming into U.S. MRFs. 

The country’s largest retailer on June 1 announced changes to the packaging it uses in its e-commerce division, which ships hundreds of millions of packages a year. 

“Moving forward, nearly all orders shipped in plastic mailers from fulfillment centers, stores and marketplace items shipped with Walmart Fulfillment Services, will arrive in recyclable paper bag mailers,” according to a press release. 

The move is expected to eliminate 65 million plastic mailers weighing over 2,000 tons in the U.S. by the end of the current fiscal year, which ends Jan. 31, 2024, according to the company. 

In addition, Walmart is giving customers the ability to opt out of single-use plastic bags for their online pickup orders. Walmart will provide that option nationwide by the end of the year. 

Although it’s still dwarfed by Amazon, Walmart’s e-commerce business remains one of the largest in the U.S., and The Wall Street Journal reports it is growing. Lists that exclude online marketplaces such as eBay say Walmart’s e-commerce business is the second largest in the U.S., by revenue. 

In addition to switching from plastic to paper, Walmart also announced plans to improve efficiencies in shipping products in corrugated boxes. 

The company plans to transition to right-sized boxes for about half its fulfillment network, making it so the boxes better fit the product, thereby reducing the need for filler materials. The company is also now allowing all online customers the option to consolidate multiple items into fewer boxes. 

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