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Wal-Mart Releases Sustainability Report


Bentonville, Ark., Wal-Mart Stores Inc. on Thursday released a comprehensive report of its sustainability efforts. It is the first time Wal-Mart has published a comprehensive audit of its social and environmental practices.

The much-anticipated report details dozens of programs, ranging from environmental to economic development, and from employee health care to ethics in overseas factories where it buys goods.

With regards to the environment, Scott said Wal-Mart Stores is making progress, but still has work to do.

"We make no claims of being a green company. And we're not saying we're better than other companies. But what we are saying is we're doing sustainability in a way that's real and right for Wal-Mart and is touching the lives of millions of people around the world," Scott wrote.

He reiterated Wal-Mart's stated theory of two years ago that reducing its environmental impact is a smart business move because it saves money and produces better products.

The Sierra Club's national press secretary, David Willett, called the report "a good first step" that shows Wal-Mart is trying to improve.

Environmental Defense, which works with large companies including Wal-Mart to help them design and implement green plans, welcomed the report.

"The company is moving in the right direction, and learning as it goes," the group said in a statement. Environmental Defense is the only green group to open an office, with two staff members, in Wal-Mart's headquarters town of Bentonville, Ark., to coordinate the effort.

Environmental Defense said, however, that Wal-Mart must provide more data and context in the sustainability report. For example, it said, the report lists new low-flow sinks that cut water use in some store bathrooms, but does not specify how many stores use the technology and what water use was before the installations. In terms of health care, Scott said the company is offering associates a greater variety of health plans and that more than 90% of them report having coverage. Wal-Mart has also formed the Better Health Care Together coalition, Scott said, to help spur the conversation on healthcare reform in America.

Scott outlined the company’s diversity initiatives, which include the launch of the “Senioras de Atendimiento” program in Brazil and the Gender Equity Model in Mexico.

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