Fact check: Walmart is only going bagless in Maine, not across the U.S.

The claim: Maine Walmart stores will be bag-free starting July 1

A recent article on a Maine law banning single-use plastic bags in stores has caused confusion for Walmart customers in the United States.

“Walmart is Going Bagless July 1st” read the June 7 headline of an article posted on the website 92 Moose, a radio station in central Maine.

The article starts off saying Walmart will have “no bags at all.” Then it says customers will have to bring their own bags or use a bin for their items.

The claim spread wildly across social media, accumulating more than 20,000 shares and 35,000 comments, most in the days immediately after it was posted.

Comments show the buzz was from readers believing this was a nationwide policy for Walmart, since the original version of the story made no mention the policy was limited to Maine. USA TODAY reached out to the 92 Moose website for comment. 

“Starting July 1st we are going bagless at every Walmart,” said a Facebook user in a now-deleted June 8 post. “Bring your own bags and remember we just work here so try to hold back your frustration just a bit.”

By early on June 11 — four days after the initial publication — the 92 Moose article’s headline was updated and a clarification added to the story to point out the change only applied to Walmart stores in Maine.

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Indeed, all Walmarts are not going bagless. The article refers to the enforcement of a Maine law that bans single-use plastic bags in stores.

Bagless policy is not nationwide

Walmart stores in Maine are going bagless because of a new state law. It does not apply to every Walmart store in the U.S.

In 2019, Maine Gov. Janet Mills, a Democrat, signed a bill into law that targets single-use plastic bags, according to the Natural Resources Council of Maine. The law is a statewide ban on the distribution of single-use plastic shopping bags at all grocery stores, retail stores, restaurants and seasonal or temporary stores or markets. Retailers must provide reusable or paper bags.

The law is set to go into effect July 1, according to the Maine Department of Environmental Protection.

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“With that ban soon taking effect, Walmart is converting all Maine stores to bagless on July 1,” Charles Crowson, Walmart’s communications director for the northern U.S., said in an email to USA TODAY.

Crowson said this decision aligns with the company’s  existing sustainability initiatives.

“A similar initiative began in Vermont four months ago and was well-received by customers there. However, there isn’t a national rollout planned at this time,” Crowson said.

Our rating: True

The claim that Maine Walmart stores are going bagless on July 1 is TRUE, based on our research. The original version of this post was misleading, and thousands of people got the wrong idea about the scope of this policy. But the updated article accurately notes the decision to go bagless applies only to stores in Maine, based on a new state law that prohibits the use of single-use plastic bags. There is no impact on other U.S. stores.

Our fact-checking sources:

  • Moose 92 FM, June 7, updated June 10 or 11, Maine Walmarts are Going Bagless July 1st
  • Walmart, Feb. 22, Somewhere Beyond the Plastic Bag Lies the Future of Retail
  • Vermont Business Magazine, Jan. 1, Walmart to go ‘bagless’ February 15
  • National Resources Council of Maine, accessed June 9, Reusable Bag Ordinance Toolkit
  • Office of Governor Janet T. Mills, accessed June 9, About the Governor
  • Maine Department of Environmental Protection, accessed June 9, Plastic Bag and Plastic Film Recycling
  • Maine Department of Environmental Protection, accessed June 9, GUIDANCE ON SINGLE-USE PLASTIC CARRY-OUT BAG BAN
  • CBS 13, June 8, Walmart stores across Maine are going bagless
  • Charles Crowson, June 10, Email exchange with USA TODAY

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