Environmental Defense Fund Partners with Wal-Mart to Cut Global Shopping Bag Waste

September 25, 2008


(New York - September 25, 2008) Environmental Defense Fund (EDF) will serve as Wal-Mart’s (NYSE: WMT) environmental partner in the Global Plastic Shopping Bag Waste Reduction Commitment that the retailer announced today at the Clinton Global Initiative Annual Meeting. EDF will help Wal-Mart develop reduction, reuse and recycling strategies as well as monitor efforts to reduce plastic shopping bag waste by an average of one-third per store from 2008 levels by 2013.

“Cutting bag waste is a common-sense solution to an environmental problem that we all see every day,” said Gwen Ruta, vice president for Corporate Partnerships at Environmental Defense Fund. “This initiative will help take 9 billion bags out of the environment each year.”

Total global consumption of plastic bags is estimated at 4 trillion per year, at the expense of the world’s marine life—as sea turtles, fish, mammals and birds eat or become entangled in bags—and at a cost of millions of dollars to municipalities, which must collect and dispose of bags. The Wal-Mart bag waste reduction pledge has the potential to eliminate approximately 9 billion plastic shopping bags per year from its existing stores by 2013.

“Environmental Defense Fund has provided valuable contributions in Wal-Mart’s effort to operate in a more environmentally sustainable manner, which includes helping the environment while building a stronger business,” said Matt Kistler, senior vice president for sustainability of Wal-Mart Stores, Inc. “EDF has helped us assess the full scope of environmental challenges and benefits of reducing Wal-Mart’s global plastic bag waste.”

EDF and Wal-Mart anticipate that the bag waste reduction initiative will reduce carbon dioxide emissions by 290,000 metric tons and reduce energy consumption equivalent to 678,000 barrels of oil per year.

Working with Wal-Mart, EDF will:
• Provide scientific advice on the environmental impacts of plastic bag waste and quantify the carbon footprint of alternative bags and packaging;
• Assist in developing educational materials for Wal-Mart customers;
• Evaluate Wal-Mart projections for environmental benefits of the project; and
• Monitor progress and assess program results.

Collaboration to reduce bag waste is just one aspect of EDF’s work since 2005 to inform and influence Wal-Mart’s sustainability goals and motivate change in the company, its supply chain and its customers to measurably reduce environmental impacts. EDF focuses on issues central to its mission and germane to Wal-Mart operations, including global warming, seafood, packaging, toxic materials and environmental performance of Wal-Mart suppliers worldwide.

Julie Stofer, (202) 270-1339, jstofer@edf.org
Maude Wilson, (415) 486-3217, maude.wilson@edelman.com, Edelman for EDF