November 21, 2023

Going Green: How Big Box Stores Champion Recycling Initiatives

Crowds of people line the parking lots with their scarves and mittens trying to keep warm, merchandise line the aisles inside creating a maze of products to choose from, and big savings await customers brave enough to face the crowds of large retailers on Black Friday every year. Customers anxiously wait for the announcement of Black Friday deals, and retailers gear up for the biggest day in merchandising of the year. Boxes upon boxes are stacked strategically. But once the holiday fun is over and Saturday rolls around, where do these boxes go? According to the Green Alliance, up to 80% of items bought on Black Friday and their packaging are thrown away after minimal use. In the U.S. waste increases by 25% between Black Friday and the New Year. However, some big box retail giants are combating this scale of waste through recycling programs. 

The term “Big Box Stores” refers to retailers that have a plethora of locations with large selections of products. The idea is that you only need to go to one store to get everything that you need. Big box stores dominate the Black Friday scene, with several departments of products to choose from in one location. Big box stores also have the opportunity to dominate the recycling initiative, as exemplified by stores such as Lowes, Best Buy, and Target. With help from software as a service technology, the recycling process becomes more efficient and streamlined for the consumer.


Lowe’s began working with Call2Recycle, the top battery collection and recycling non-profit in the country, in 2004 to give customers a convenient center to recycle batteries, cell phones, compact fluorescent lamps, and plastic shopping bags. Lowe’s has collected and recycled more than 6 million pounds of rechargeable batteries since 2004. In 2018, Lowe’s recycled around 728,000 pounds of rechargeable batteries from 1,726 sites. Lowe’s is paving the way for convenient recycling processes by researching how to recycle plastic film, and experimenting with artificial intelligence to further streamline the recycling process at their centers. Additionally, in some states, Lowe’s also accepts plastic planter pots and cases in the garden center for recycling. Through this work, Lowe’s is making a significant impact on recycling rates. 

Best Buy:

In 2009, Best Buy implemented their electronics recycling program. According to the World Health Organization, in 2019, an estimated 53.6 million tonnes of e-waste were produced globally, but only 17.4% was documented as formally collected and recycled. Since 2009, Best Buy has collected 2.7 billion pounds of electronics and appliances for recycling, making them the largest retail collector of e-waste in the United States. Best Buy has a goal by 2030, of reducing carbon emissions in their operations by 75% and reducing carbon emissions for their customers by 20%. Best Buy also signed The Climate Pledge and made a public commitment to be carbon neutral across the business by 2040. With the addition of SaaS technology, consumers may be better informed on what to take to Best Buy and what to recycle curbside. Consider using CIRT to confirm recyclability of electronics in your state before taking them to Best Buy. 


Since 2010, Target has offered front-of-store recycling kiosks that give guests a way to recycle cans, glass, plastic bottles, plastic bags, MP3 players, ink cartridges and cell phones in their local store. Target is also modifying their products to be more sustainable. Until 2021, Target’s holiday containment bins were made of corrugated cardboard with a plastic front. Following a 2022 redesign, these bins are now 100% corrugated cardboard, eliminating the use of more than 61,700 lbs of plastic and making them compatible with in-store recycling processes. Target is committed to the Zero Waste International Alliance.  In 2022, Target diverted 83% of operational waste and 59% of construction waste from landfills. By 2030, Target intends to divert 90% of waste from landfill through reuse, recycling, donation and reduction strategies. This commitment to sustainability creates a real impact on landfill emissions. 

Big box stores may have the capacity to create waste during the holiday season, but they also have the capacity to reduce it. As exemplified by these big box giants, recycling programs can have real impact on waste in the United States. Through commitment to sustainability and the implementation of recycling programs, big box giants create convenient recycling programs. With the addition of SaaS technology, consumers may be better informed on what to drop off at Big Box Stores and what to recycle curbside. CIRTR, a software that uses geo-spatial technology to inform the user on the recyclability of products can help further simplify this process for the consumer by confirming recyclability based on location. This Black Friday, consider these recycling programs for disposing of your waste and use CIRT technology to determine recyclability of materials in your area. Want to learn more about recycling? Visit our website to learn more: