As part of its companywide sustainability effort, giant retailer Walmart is trying to move all of its employees to electronic pay, eliminating the paper that’s involved in paying with checks and providing paper pay stubs. Walmart employees can choose between direct deposit and First Data’s Money Network Payroll Distribution service, which allows them to access their pay using either a prepaid debit card or self-issued checks.

The biggest challenge in eliminating paper checks and pay stubs came in complying with all the relevant state regulations, says Mike Cook, Walmart assistant treasurer and vice president. “There’s such a matrix of different state requirements,” Cook says. “There are many states where we can’t turn off the delivery of paper pay stubs, even if you’re receiving your pay electronically.”

Walmart has dealt with that problem by installing terminals in many stores that provide employees with paper pay stubs. Employees can also access that information online, over the telephone, or via pay stub text messaging services.

Ninety percent of employees now receive their pay electronically, and Walmart is aiming for 100%. Cook says the company is working on enhancements to its systems that will let it enroll new employees in the direct deposit program more quickly; currently it often takes until a new employee’s second pay period to implement direct deposit.

“Hopefully by first and second quarter of next year, we’ll have the ability to have day one participation, which will drive our numbers closer to that 100% mark,” he says.

When Walmart achieves 100% participation, Cook says, “the environmental impact on a conservative basis is that it would save more than 3,000 trees, eliminate 8.2 tons of wastewater, reduce 490,000 kilograms of carbon, and it would save 800 gallons of gasoline a year.”