Monday, September 17, 2012

Walmart and Sustainability

Remember back in 2007, when Walmart began to go green in a big way?

The world's largest retailer surprised a lot of people with its full-speed-ahead sustainability initiatives. It began adding solar panels to distribution centers and stores, introduced many green products, and jumped on the recycling and CFL bandwagons. Given the huge influence Walmart has on its supplier base, this was a very promising beginning.

Since then, Walmart has logged many accomplishments in its sustainability efforts, including adding alternative energy sources to reduce dependence on traditional energy generation and reducing excess packaging to keep stuff out of landfills. The retailer recycles more than 80% of its waste, not quite reaching its 100% goal--but given the company's global operations, this milestone is positive from any perspective.

Some programs are moving ahead more slowly. Walmart's Sustainability Index, announced in 2009, is making some progress through an industry consortium. However, some observers say the pace is too slow.

On the other hand, even small changes can make a difference in sustainability. Walmart is asking PC manufacturers to put their computers into sleep mode sooner, as an energy saving measure. Its SVP of sustainability explains: "We've really been trying to focus on things that we can do that can provide a benefit but that won't cost our customer[s] more because that's not something we believe that they'll pay for."

Read all about Walmart's green goals and achievements in the company's latest sustainability report.

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