Walmart recently released its 2010 Global Sustainability Report. Being the world’s largest public corporation, Walmart has enormous impact and influence directly and indirectly to businesses around them. Whether your business has direct dealings with Walmart or not, it is worth taking notes on their targets, achievements, and future plans in the areas of sustainability.
The forty-seven page report details Walmart’s sustainability actions around the world, from energy efficiency, waste reduction, and product packaging, to social responsibilities. Walmart is continuing to buy renewable power, reduce packaging, reduce waste, make its fleet more efficient, and sell more sustainable products. If you are interested in their actions from a global perspective, Marc Gunther’s blog post, Walmart: Still The Green Giant, provides an excellent summary. In this post, however, I will focus on their Canadian effort.
Canada is Walmart’s 6th largest market. Walmart Canada‘s annual sales is approximately $15 billion U.S. This represents 4% of Walmart’s global sales, compares to 51% from the U.S. It operates in 317 Canadian locations, including 89 Supercentres. Almost 80,000 Canadians work for Walmart. In the 2010 Global Sustainability Report, Walmart highlighted three areas of their Canadian operations: energy efficiency, waste reduction, and packaging reduction.
In the area of energy efficiency, Walmart Canada met their goal to design and build new stores that are 30% more energy efficient compared to stores built in 2005 by opening two high-efficiency store prototypes in Waterdown and Oshawa, Ontario. These two stores are projected to be 30% more energy efficient than the 2005 baseline store. Technologies that are proven to be successful in these stores are expected to be retrofited to existing stores across Canada.
In the area of waste reduction, Walmart Canada surpassed its goal to reduce waste produced by its stores across the country by 65%. At the high-efficiency store in Waterdown, opened in September 2009, they were able to reduce waste by more than 80%. The techniques used at this facility, once refined, are expected to be replicated at other stores.
In the area of packaging reduction, Walmart’s goal is to reduce packaging in their supply chain by 5% by 2013 compared to their 2008 baseline. They expanded the use of their packaging scorecard and established their Packaging Sustainable Value Network (SVN) to Canada. Mirroring their U.S. Packaging Network, these SVNs include membership from the government, academia, suppliers and NGOs. By January 2010, suppliers in Canada had been informed on the scorecard and are in the process of adding their product packaging information into the system. It is expected that by the end of 2011, buyers in Canada will be able to use the information to influence their purchasing decisions.
Those are the three highlighted areas for Canada. I will end this post with a question. Why does Walmart—a company known for its agressive cost cutting and razor thin profit margin—spend so much valuable resource on sustainability? CEO Mike Duke says in the report: Sustainability continues to make Walmart a better company by reducing waste, lowering costs, driving innovation, increasing productivity and helping us fulfill our mission of saving people money so they can live better.
In other words, sustainability saves more than the environment … it saves money.