Walmart stores in the Colorado Springs area that posted signs saying they were phasing out plastic bags in the upcoming days and weeks jumped the gun, the retail giant says.

While Walmart plans to stop utilizing single-use carryout bags in Colorado starting in early 2023, the switch hasn't started yet; Walmart said it is working with the local stores to remove the signs that warn of a more imminent change.

Walmart's move away from single-use plastic bags is part of its larger sustainability efforts, which includes their involvement with the Beyond the Bag initiative, a consortium of retailers also including CVS Health and Target. So far, Walmart has transitioned away from plastic bags in Vermont, Maine and New Jersey.

Colorado stores will follow suit with the option for customers to purchase reusable bags at several price points.

"For in-store and curbside delivery, we will continue to encourage our customers to bring their own bags and/or purchase reusable bags and will be switching to reusable paper bags for delivery," Lauren Willis, global communications director for Western U.S. Walmart Corporate Affairs, said in a statement  to The Gazette.

The move is in step with Colorado law that will prohibit retail and food establishments from providing single-use plastic bags to customers starting in 2024. During 2023, stores can provide recycled paper bags or single-use plastic bags if the customer pays a fee of at least 10 cents; by 2024 only recycled paper bags can be sold, at a 10-cent fee or higher. Restaurants or small stores solely in Colorado with three or fewer locations will be able to continue to give out single-use plastic bags.

The shift is intended to help reduce the estimated use of 100 billion plastic bags in the U.S. annually, of which less than 10% are recycled, according to Walmart's website.

"Walmart has been exploring alternatives to single-use carryout bags from our stores since 2021 while prioritizing our customers’ convenience and product safety," Willis said in the statement. "...Walmart remains committed to identifying solutions that are scalable, convenient and sustainable.”

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