In California, a general rule of thumb to remember is that for years, 90% of our population has lived on 10% of the land. Growth in the Central Valley has skewed that statistic, but the truth is that most of the Golden State, despite massive population growth over decades, is still relatively empty. Nevertheless, all that land is valuable: farms, military bases, national and state parks, wilderness, and mountains all are part of California’s valuable real estate. While California’s growth has slowed the past decade--for the first time since statehood we are not picking up another seat in the House of Representatives--Californians are running out of space.
California has long been a leader in recycling simply because municipalities have run out of landfill space in the past 25 years. Add the fact that California is often NIMBY (not in our backyard) central, no one wants a landfill near his or her home. That trash has to go somewhere, however, or more realistically, it must be recycled, up-cycled, down-cycled, or repurposed. Walmart, which has had a huge challenge entering some of California’s cities, now takes a leadership role in landfill waste diversion programs across the state. The super-center giant's zero-waste model could be one that its competitors follow.
Last Thursday Walmart announced that it eliminated over 80% of its waste that otherwise would have ended up in landfills across California. The initiative’s success has sparked Walmart to roll out the program across the United States. If this plan can roll out beyond California’s state line, Walmart could prevent almost 12 million metric tons of carbon from emitting into the atmosphere, the equivalent of taking 2 million cars off of American roads.
The reductions date back to 2009, when Walmart rolled out several pilot programs that found alternatives to dumping waste into landfills. The zero waste program centers on three points:
A video summarizing Walmart’s efforts is below:
Leon Kaye has written for TriplePundit since 2010, and became its Executive Editor in 2018. He is also the Director of Social Media and Engagement for 3BL Media. His previous work can be found at The Guardian, Sustainable Brands and CleanTechnica. Kaye is based in Fresno, CA, from where he happily explores California’s stellar Central Coast and the national parks in the Sierra Nevadas. He's lived in South Korea, the United Arab Emirates and Uruguay, and has traveled to over 70 countries. He's an alum of the University of Maryland, Baltimore County and the University of Southern California.