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Environmental Sustainability at Walmart

Walmart views “environmental sustainability as one of the most important opportunities for both the future of our business, and the future of our world.”* Its environmental vision is clear: “. . . to be supplied 100 percent by renewable energy; to create zero waste; and to sell products that sustain our natural resources and the environment.” Its specific goals in the three areas are as follows:

Renewable energy: existing stores are to be 20% more efficient in 7 years, new stores are to be 30% more efficient in 4 years, and the trucking fleet is to be 25% more efficient in 3 years and twice as efficient in 10 years.
Zero waste: 25% reduction in solid waste in 3 years and improved brand packaging through right-sized packaging that uses reusable material.
Sustain resources and the environment: 20% of its 61,000 suppliers will abide by the program within 3 years.
The three above goals make up what Walmart refers to as its Sustainable Value Network. Renewable energy includes global logistics, Greenhouse Gas (GHG) emissions, and sustainable buildings, in addition to alternative fuels. Waste refers to packaging, operations, and procurement.

Walmart has also launched various experiments and innovations, including the following:
Building high-efficiency stores using recycled building material and lighting that conserves energy. These new facilities are 25% more energy efficient than the firm’s 2005 baseline.
Purchasing solar-powered equipment at a rate that could put it in the top 10 largest-ever solar-power purchasers in the U.S. Solar power is to be used at 22 locations in Hawaii and California.
Reducing packaging. For example, changes to packaging for patio sets resulted in 400 fewer shipping containers. And the company used 230 fewer shipping containers to distribute toys.
Selling reusable bags to reduce the use of disposable plastic bags; encouraging schools to collect plastic bags, for which the schools are paid.
Adopting a series of aerodynamic innovations for its trucking fleet. It even developed a power unit to warm or cool drivers at night without turning on the truck’s engine.
With these policies and initiatives, Walmart hopes to blunt criticism and as a major world wide employer lead the way in environmental sustainability. As one critic admitted begrudgingly, “Walmart has more green clout than anyone.”
Discussion Questions

1. How is Walmart doing in terms of environmental sustainability?

2. Based on library and Internet research, report on other Walmart sustainability efforts.

3. Compare the firm’s sustainability plan to those of Home Depot, Target, or other big-box retailers.

4. How much of Walmart’s sustainability effort is (a) resource focused, (b) recycle focused, (c) regulation focused, and (d) reputation focused?

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