Recycling centre at Walgreens distribution center

During fiscal 2018 the Company generated 670,000 metric tonnes of waste, a decrease of 1.3 percent from fiscal 2017, and an increase of 12.0 percent from fiscal 2016, our baseline year.

The decrease in fiscal 2018 compared with fiscal 2017 was primarily due to the divestment of our Boots Contract Manufacturing business. 

Waste by method of disposal
(000 metric tonnes)

Fiscal 20181

Fiscal 20172

Fiscal 20162

Change vs.
baseline year
fiscal 2016





















1 Fiscal 2018 data within Deloitte & Touche LLP’s review scope as detailed on pages 90-91 of our 2018 CSR Report.
2 We previously reported amounts that totaled 626,000 metric tonnes for fiscal 2017 and 549,000 metric tonnes for fiscal 2016. The relevant figures have been restated to reflect changes to the methodology as well as the omission of source of waste at our distribution centers.
3 Without heat recovery.
4 Includes materials recovered via incineration with heat recovery.

Of the waste generated, approximately 54 percent was recycled, up 1 percentage point from fiscal 2016, mainly due to the improved recycling rate at Walgreens, which makes up most of our Retail Pharmacy USA Division. Recycling rates at our Divisions were as follows: Retail Pharmacy International 77 percent, Pharmaceutical Wholesale 69 percent and Retail Pharmacy USA 52 percent.

Beyond 34: Our role in eradicating waste

Walgreens Boots Alliance is committed to doing its part to improve recycling rates and eradicate waste in order to promote a more circular economy, a restorative and regenerative economic model designed to eliminate waste and minimize negative impacts of products and services through system-wide innovation.In line with this commitment, Walgreens Boots Alliance is a sponsor of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation’s Beyond 34: Recycling and Recovery for A New Economy.

The pilot project selected Orlando, Florida as the location to create a scalable model for achieving a more circular economy through innovative recycling and recovery solutions. In June 2018, more than 60 local business, nonprofit and government stakeholders gathered for a Recycling Planning and Prioritization Workshop to implement and provide advisory support for priority projects to increase Orlando’s diversion and processing of recyclables. Through the end of 2018 and beginning of 2019, programs are expected to be implemented throughout Orlando and expanded, scaled, and replicated elsewhere.


Zero waste to landfill project implemented across U.S. distribution centers

Walgreens zero waste to landfill project diverted 93 percent of waste from landfill in 2018, compared with 88 percent in fiscal 2017, across 15 distribution facilities in the U.S. and Puerto Rico.

Feeding America 

In fiscal 2018, Walgreens diverted more than 3.4 million pounds (1.5 million kilograms) of products from landfills across the U.S. by donating them to Feeding America, the largest domestic hunger-relief and food rescue organization. Donations of unsold or discontinued products, screened for safety, include food, toiletries and household items that often cannot be purchased through government assistance programs.


Efforts to reduce single-use plastics

The UK Plastics Pact
In a commitment to reduce single-use plastics, Boots UK in July 2018 joined the UK Plastics Pact, led by WRAP. The Pact initiative brings together businesses from across the entire plastics value chain with UK governments and non-governmental organizations to tackle the issue of plastic waste. Boots UK is working with members of the Pact, including other major retailers, to transform the UK plastic packaging sector through a multi-step approach, including making 100 percent of plastic packaging reusable, recyclable or compostable by 2025.

Spring cleanup initiative

In April 2018, the Walgreens support office in Deerfield, Illinois held its annual Spring Cleanup Campaign. Over the course of the week-long campaign, more than 37,000 pounds (16,000 kilograms) of paper were collected for shredding and recycling. Additionally, more than 3,400 pounds (1,500 kilograms) of electronic waste were collected for environmentally responsible disposal.

The Spring Cleanup Campaign at Walgreens Boots Alliance UK office locations resulted in the removal of redundant IT equipment, documents for archiving, used batteries and general waste. Employees also donated gently used clothing items to Cancer Research UK, replaced plastic bottled water with canned water and replaced plastic cutlery and dishware with compostable alternatives.

Walgreens pharmacy recycling

In fiscal 2018, Walgreens retail pharmacies completed the implementation of a new process for returning disposable patient information to distribution centers for recycling. Between December 2016 and August 2018, this recycling process has translated to more than 317,000 saved trees and more than 129 million saved gallons of water.

Incineration of feminine hygiene products

Boots UK works with an external waste service provider to divert feminine hygiene products and diaper waste from landfill, converting them to fuel pellets for incinerators. After a pilot program in the Boots UK support office in fiscal 2017, the process was extended in 2018 to most Boots stores. During the fiscal year, 97 metric tonnes were diverted for incineration, out of a total of 136 metric tonnes.

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