- Sam’s Club has launched self-service recycling units in its Northwest Arkansas stores as part of its commitment to becoming a regenerative company, according to a Friday press release.
- The rollout of more self-service recycling units, which began last week, follows a successful pilot Sam’s Club ran in El Paso, Texas, where an estimated 200,000 pieces of loose packaging were diverted from landfills or incineration.
- The retailer’s goal is to launch at least 30 of these units this year and follows an industry-wide trend of grocers expanding their sustainability efforts.
Materials from eight different waste streams can be dropped off at the units, including paper boxes, PET thermoforms, pet food bags, aluminum packaging, clear plastic containers, home cleaning and beauty product bottles, plastic bags and films, plastic bottles and rigid food packaging, according to the retailer’s website.
The retailer’s goal this year is to divert 150 tons of recyclable materials, according to the announcement.
Sam’s Club aims to use the recycled PET thermoforms, which are the plastic clamshells baked goods are packaged in, to create new packaging. Only 9% of PET thermoforms are recycled due to them not being widely accepted in North America, the press release noted.
To use and access the recycling units, individuals scan the QR code on the unit and then deposit the recyclable items into separate waste streams. From there, collected waste is transported to facilities for recycling or returned to brand sponsors to use in circularity initiatives.
Sam’s Club piloted the units for six months at all four of its El Paso, Texas, stores focusing on PET thermoforms, which include clear fruit and produce containers, trays, tubs, cups, lids and plastic egg cartons, the grocer stated in a July 2022 announcement.
The retailer launched the pilot in collaboration with Texan by Nature and Texans for Clean Water as part of a goal to reduce litter in waterways and roadways via community-driven recycling. The project was fully funded by Texans for Clean Water while Texan by Nature managed the pilot.
More grocers are making sustainability strides, specifically in recycling. In late April, Kroger announced reaching a milestone of recycling 1 million pieces of its Our Brands flexible plastic product packaging.
In July 2022, Giant Food announced bringing Loop, a reusable packaging program, into its stores in the greater Washington, D.C., area in order to bolster reusable options for shoppers.