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Walmart leaving smaller footprints on sustainability journey


Landfill operators got some bad news this week when Walmart said it prevented 81% of waste generated by U.S. stores from going to landfills. That nugget is just one example of the progress Walmart has made on its broad sustainability agenda and was among numerous others contained in the company’s 5th annual Global Responsibility Report released this week.

The new report includes data and reveals progress the company has made against its three primary sustainability goals to use 100% renewable energy, create zero waste and sell products that sustain people and the environment. The waste diversion was part of the company’s Zero Waste Program, which consists of recycling, donating and repurposing waste. Similar efforts and progress has been made internationally, with ASDA now sending zero food waste to landfills and Walmart stores in China and Brazil diverting 52% of operational waste from landfills.

"Good work is taking place every day across our global operations to make us a more responsible and sustainable company, and the results have been significant," said Mike Duke, Walmart's president and CEO. "We set ambitious goals to challenge ourselves but are committed to making change in a way that will be meaningful and long-term. Understandably, in some areas our progress is slower than we would like and sometimes we hit temporary roadblocks. Our commitment is clear and our resolve to lead is stronger than ever.”

Other key highlights of the report with an environmental impact included:

  • Walmart used 1.1 billion kilowatt hours of renewable energy. The United States EPA Green Power Partnership program now ranks Walmart as the second-largest onsite green power generator in the United States. Renewable energy projects provide 1.1 billion kWh annually, or about 4% of electricity for Walmart buildings globally. Walmart also purchases another 18% from the grid for a total of 22% renewable electricity as of 2010. Walmart has 180 renewable energy projects in operation or under development, which use a diversity of innovative technologies, including solar power, fuel cells, micro-wind, offsite wind projects and more.

  • Made progress on the goal of creating an integrated Sustainability Index. For the past two years, Walmart has worked with more than 90 suppliers, academics, NGOs and other retailers through The Sustainability Consortium (TSC) to assess and improve the sustainability of its products. Walmart used the consortium's data to develop its first category scorecards to help buyers evaluate products and expects to expand the scorecards in up to 100 major categories by the end of 2012.

Other highlights called out in the report focused on Walmart’s efforts to expand locally grown produce, support of women around the world, saving customers money on affordable food, natural disaster response and expansion of the global direct-farm program that allows small farmers to sell directly to Walmart.

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