Walmart, with headquarters in Bentonville, Arkansas, is the major force in global retail.  Net sales for their last fiscal year topped $405 billion, with international net sales exceeding $100 billion. 

  • Walmart is the world’s largest retailer.  It is the largest corporation and private employer in the United States.
  • Walmart is the biggest employer in 25 states. They set the standard for wages and labor practices.
  • Walmart employs 1.4 million workers worldwide and over 1 million in the United States.  
  • Walmart has more than 3,000 stores in the U.S. and almost 1,300 International operations.
  • Walmart topped the Fortune 500 list of America's largest corporations ranked by sales for the fourth year in a row.
  • Walmart is the top U.S. seller of products ranging from dog food to diamonds.

Whatever you think of Walmart, whether you shop there or not -- they have a huge impact on global commerce and goods. And the company is very serious about energy efficiency and sustainability. 

The company's motivations may not be out of pure altruism.  But the firm seems to realize that long-term competitiveness, value, and costs are improved by doing the right thing from a carbon footprint standpoint.

To that end, Walmart made this announcement this morning:

Their goal: to eliminate 20 million tons of greenhouse gas emissions from life cycle of products they sell around world by 2015.

The announcement was made to a room of Walmart suppliers and it is the suppliers who have something to prove to Walmart.  Fred Krupp, President of EDF, the Environmental Defense Fund, was present when the announcement was made and had this to say: "What's sensational is that Walmart is launching a race and a treasure hunt amongst its suppliers to reduce carbon." Krupp is glad that Walmart is, "looking at the big picture."

The carbon data is still uncharted territory for many suppliers.  But Walmart, along with Clear Carbon Consulting, is launching a cooperative effort with its suppliers to identify, measure and eliminate 20 million tons of greenhouse gas emissions from the life cycle of the products they sell around the world by 2015.

Elizabeth Sturken of EDF said, "Walmart's supply chain is where the action is."  90% of Walmart's carbon footprint is in the supply chain.
 
And Walmart CEO Mike Duke said, "We will be a leader in retail, because we will be first to take a look at the supply chain on a global scale."  Walmart's CEO also called for a comprehensive legislative policy that addresses energy, energy security, the country's competitiveness as well as reducing pollution.  He said,  "Our GHG goal will be measurable and will be done in partnership with our suppliers."

Regardless of Walmart's sometimes questionable labor and community practices -- this is not just greenwashing on the retail giant's part.  The company already has an amazing array of sustainability and energy efforts.  These efforts include:

  • Solar energy sources on stores
  • Obtaining power from wind-based electricity
  • Local food offered at stores
  • Refilling laundry detergent bottles rather than selling new packaging
  • Eliminating plastic bags
  • Offering sustainable seafood and produce
  • Looking at their waste stream
  • Looking at the chemical intensity of their products
  • Studies of wood products, paper products, China's sustainability practices, and much more.

 

Tags: carbon footprint, edf, mike duke, supply chain, sustainability, walmart