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.