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Walmart reportedly reducing in-store waste with AI

Walmart Store of the Future
Walmart is using AI to track produce freshness.

A new Walmart pilot reportedly provides store associates with artificial intelligence insight on products that may be close to expiration.

According to CNBC, Walmart is testing an in-house-developed, AI-based solution that provides employees in stores with insight on items that will soon wind up in a landfill and advice on how to keep them out of the waste stream. Associates can use a mobile app to scan produce items.

A generative AI engine then identifies produce that is nearing expiation, which would require disposal, and creates recommendations for actions such as price markdown or return to vendor. The solution can also reportedly be used to identify apparel items that are nearing end of season and recommend actions to help avoid their being thrown away, if they are not recyclable. 

Walmart will reportedly expand this pilot to stores in Canada and also wants to test the solution in other countries where it operates.

"Using tools like our AI-powered waste management system helps lessen our environment footprint, requiring fewer societal resources and, at the same time, helping to reduce our own operating costs," Sravana Karnati, senior VP and CTO for Walmart International Technology, Walmart Global Tech, told CNBC. Read more coverage here.

Walmart fights waste, develops AI

This pilot combines two major Walmart efforts: reducing its environmental foortprint and creating its own AI technology solutions. In 2017, Walmart introduced Project Gigaton, an initiative to avoid one gigaton (one billion metric tons) of carbon dioxide from its global value chain by 2030. Since that time, the discount giant has launched numerous efforts to promote sustainability across its enterprise and among its partners and customers.

On the AI development front, Walmart offers employees the Walmart GenAI Playground, an early-stage internal  tool where they can explore and learn about the technology. The discounter also includes a generative AI assistant in its employee app, and is developing generative AI tools to assist customers with search and complex purchases, researching how the technology can aid consumer decision-making.

Headquartered in Bentonville, Ark., Walmart Inc. operates approximately 10,500 stores and numerous e-commerce websites in 19 countries.

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