Walmart’s sustainability efforts are making a positive impact on a global scale. These efforts are evident from the products they sell to the packaging, to the way those products are used by their customers. Sustainability is inextricably embedded within their overall business strategy and carbon reduction is a key element of their sustainability program.
Their overarching goals are to: Be supplied 100 percent by renewable energy; Create zero waste; and Sell products that sustain people and the environment. They have driven specific strategies that will reduce risks and increase opportunities associated with carbon for their company, their supply chain, and their customers. Their GHG reduction targets were set in order to increase their efficiency, lower their costs, save their customers money, and provide for positive social and environmental impacts. Their scope ensures significance.
By focusing on emissions reduction since 2005, they have achieved an annual savings rate in excess of $150 million compared to that base year by increasing their efficiency in the use of electricity, natural gas, refrigerant and transportation fuels. By reducing their energy consumption now, they are better positioned for further savings should any proposed carbon legislation be enacted into law. Similarly, just as they found efficiencies within their own footprint, they realized the opportunity to help their supply chain find these same, or even greater, efficiencies that will lead to additional financial and environmental benefits.
Walmart has announced an aggressive goal to eliminate twenty million metric tons of GHGs from their global supply chain by the end of 2015. This represents one and a half times their anticipated cumulative carbon footprint growth over the next five years. That amount of carbon decrease, if all achieved from electricity use reduction in the U.S., would have an associated annual cost reduction in excess of $2.5 billion. There are many opportunities to reduce throughout the product life cycle from the sourcing of the raw materials, to the manufacturing of a product, to its transportation, and to how customers use it, dispose of it and recycle it.
On public policy engagement, Walmart is working with industry groups, NGO’s, consultants, and members of Congress and their staffs in order to foster better communication and understanding on the issues, challenges, and potential impacts to their business and customers. These understandings allow them to continuously re-evaluate their progress and impacts and to refocus or redirect their efforts when needed.