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Large retailers dont have smokestacks, but they generate a lot of pollution and states are starting to regulate it [Video]

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Did you receive a mail-order package this week? Carriers in the U.S. shipped 64 packages for every American in 2022, so it’s quite possible.

That commerce reflects the expansion of large-scale retail in recent decades, especially big-box chains like Walmart, Target, Best Buy and Home Depot that sell goods both in stores and online. This has led to the growth of distribution centers that fulfill these orders. While mail-order commerce is convenient, these centers also have harmful impacts, including traffic congestion and air and water pollution.

I study environmental history, and I am part of a group of scholars examining the environmental impacts of big-box stores like Walmart, Target, REI and Bass Pro Shops. Sustainability is a hot topic in the retail sector, but my research on the history of Target – the sixth-largest retailer in the U.S. – shows how retail companies have largely escaped the kinds of environmental regulations that affect other sectors such as manufacturing.

California is leading efforts …

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