Wal-Mart goes green

It started five years ago when Wal-Mart announced three goals: 1) 100 percent renewable energy; 2) Zero waste; 3) Sustainable products.

Wal-Mart stores have already gone sustainable on dozens of fronts from shipping to selling to storing to recycling. Last year, Wal-Mart saved 4.8 billion plastic shopping bags.

That’s how they roll in Bentonville: Big.

Even the combined efforts of 8400 stores with two million associates doing $400 billion in sales every year was not enough: Wal-Mart figured out 90 percent of the carbon was coming from its supply chain. So it reached down to all its 100,000 vendors — and their vendors and their vendors — and told them that reducing carbon footprints — reducing energy — will save money.

And it has. Their transportation strategy alone is now saving them $200 million a year and cuts GHG emissions by 200,000 tons a year. They are installing solar on store roofs and wind turbines in parking lots. They pushed CFL light bulbs into the mainstream in 2007 when they said they would sell 100 million of them that year and met the goal by early Oct. Plus, they are also a huge buyer of locally grown produce.

Yes, they pay low salaries, have terrible medical, and are hugely anti-union – but credit where credit is due. They are greening their company and have the clout to force suppliers to do the same. Other corporations like Proctor and Gamble, IBM, and GE are doing the same. This is a good thing.

  • woody

    It’s nice that people think they’re doing something. The real issue here is that they’ve asked people to do this. They haven’t demanded it, or made changes contingent to continued business. So companies that have done it are now wondering why they did it, since there’s little reward coming back to them. A couple local operators putting solar panels on their roof to cut costs is great, but that wasn’t something subsidized by Walmart. That was something done by the local operator that Walmart thinks is a great idea.

    All I’ve seen come out of Walmart are words. Their actions aren’t matching their rhetoric, nor is their wallet open to those taking action on their words. When they actually start doing something where they’re footing the bill, doing something not profitable, to help the environment, let me know.

    • I thought they mandated that suppliers follow the guidelines. It’s not voluntary. Comply or we stop buying from you.

  • The bottom line is that as long as there are corporations as big and rich and powerful as Wal Mart, most of our problems won’t be fixed. Sure, it’s great that they’re reducing their carbon footprint, but it’s not in any effort to be sustainable – the CEO has admitted that they’re doing it to improve their bottom line. It’s still a good thing, but in general the concentration of power in Wal Mart’s hands is just terrible for society.

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