Walmart Canada Pilots Reusable Bag Program with Potential National Rollout: Interview

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Walmart Canada is piloting a circular economy reusable bag program in two Guelph, Ontario stores that could eventually be rolled out to other stores across the country.

The program allows customers to use in-store GOATOTE kiosks to check out clean reusable bags for a fee and return them by the end of the month.

“As we continue on our journey to becoming a regenerative company, we’re focused on testing innovative solutions that help to make the sustainable choice the easy, affordable choice,” said Gaurav Gupta, Director, ESG (Environmental, Social, Governance), Walmart Canada. 

Image: Walmart Canada

“GOATOTE is a program whereby our customers and our associates can participate in the circular economy. What that essentially means is there are kiosks in two of our stores in Guelph, in a pilot program, and these allow our customers to walk up, and check out reusable bags for a fee.

Gaurav Gupta

“There are two options of doing that. They can either use a subscription model where they pay a $3 fee and they can then pack as many bags as they want across the month or they can pay $1 a bag and take as many bags as they want. So really it’s a means for having our customers have reusable bags in case they forget to bring their own or would just like to purchase one at the store.”

The GOATOTE kiosks are located conveniently at the front of the store, prior to customer checkout. The exact location may vary by store or throughout the pilot as the retailer tests the best placement options.

Customers can use the bags for the shopping trip – and throughout the month if they’d like. Bags must be returned within 30 days to the kiosk. GOATOTE cleans and quality checks each bag before returning it to the kiosk to be used again.

Gupta said Walmart is starting with the two stores in Guelph and will see how the pilot goes.

About a year ago, Walmart introduced a 10-store pilot to eliminate single-use plastic shopping bags in its stores.

“Since the roll-out began in January 2022, we’ve prevented nearly 200 million single-use plastic bags from entering circulation. And we’re not stopping there – we’re building on that momentum to test and learn as we continue on our journey to become a regenerative company,” said Gupta.

Image: GOATOTE

“Eliminating single-use plastic shopping bags, as we did in April 2022, is only part of the solution as we all work to be more sustainable. Circular economy solutions, like the GOATOTE option we’re testing in our Guelph stores, focus on eliminating waste and recovering as much value as possible from the goods we use. This means reusing and repairing items while they’re in use and then upcycling or recycling once they’ve reached the end of their lifespan.

“Introducing GOATOTE kiosks into our Guelph stores provides our customers with more choice in how they carry out their purchases when they shop with us and provides us with an opportunity to test this concept for broader use.”

Gupta said Walmart is on a journey and sustainability is a key component of regeneration, moving more into a circular model. 

Article Author

Mario Toneguzzi
Mario Toneguzzi
Mario Toneguzzi, based in Calgary, has more than 40 years experience as a daily newspaper writer, columnist, and editor. He worked for 35 years at the Calgary Herald covering sports, crime, politics, health, faith, city and breaking news, and business. He is the Senior News Editor with Retail Insider in addition to working as a freelance writer and consultant in communications and media relations/training.

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