Walmart Expands Sustainability Initiatives

Is Walmart Building a Sustainable Future?

Written by Brian Hicks
Posted April 19, 2012

This week, Walmart (NYSE:WMT) released its 5th annual Global Responsibility Report.

Titled “Beyond 50 Years: Building a Sustainable Future,” the report outlines the corporation’s goals to reduce its impact on the environment, improve efficiency in terms of its supply chain and address social issues.

While the company’s goals are lofty (create zero waste, use 100% renewable energy and sell more sustainable products) the report shows the progress it’s making towards those goals.

In the report, Walmart lists the following as its top 10 achievements in the past year:

  • Reduced waste by 80%. Instead of shipping all trash to landfills, Walmart recycled, donated and re-purposed waste as part of its Zero Waste Program. By reducing waste, Walmart saved 11.8 metric tons of carbon dioxide from being emitted. This is the pollution equivalent of 2 million cars.

  • Expanded locally grown produce. Walmart increased the amount of locally grown produce by 97%, which is around 10% of all produce sold in US stores. Walmart’s ultimate goal is to double the amount of locally grown produce it sells by 2015.

  • Supported women around the world. Walmart achieved this by expanding retail training programs to help over 400,000 women and provide skill training for 60,000 female factory workers. In addition, the company committed to source $20 billion from women-owned businesses in the US over the next five years.

  • Saved customers $1 billion. As part of an initiative started by First Lady Michelle Obama, Walmart has made healthier foods, fruits and vegetables more affordable. By doing this, Walmart has saved its customers more than $1 billion since January 2011.

  • Announced “Great For You” icon. This icon, appearing on packaging this summer, will help the consumer easily find healthier food options.

  • Utilized 1.1 billion kWh of renewable energy. As a result, the EPA now ranks Walmart as the second largest onsite renewable power generator in the US. Renewable energy projects currently account for 4% of Walmart buildings globally with 180 renewable energy projects currently in development.

  • Integrated Sustainability Index. After working the last two years in conjunction with 90 suppliers, NGOs and academics through the Sustainability Consortium, Walmart has assessed and improved the sustainability of its products while issuing its first category scorecards. These scorecards will be given to customers to evaluate products.

  • Responded to natural disasters. Walmart donated more than $5 million in relief efforts and donating supplies like tents, blankets and flashlights. After the US was hit with deadly tornadoes last spring, Walmart donated $1 million in cash to help rebuild these communities.

  • Nurtured diversity and inclusion. 53% of 179,000 hourly promotions were women and 200,000 female associates have been with the company for 10 years or longer. In the last five years, Walmart has increased female store managers by 46%.

  • Expanded global direct-farm program. In addition to increasing efforts to buy locally grown foods, Walmart is working with small to medium-sized farmers and their communities in China, India and other countries to buy directly from the farmers. This helps farmers increase profits and receive crop planning advice.