[Editors note: A previous headline mischaracterized Wal-Mart’s global emissions based on erroneous information from the chart above from the Wal-Mart report.]
While seeing an overall rise in carbon emissions to about 20 million tons in 2008, Wal-Mart Stores International is making progress in reducing its emissions per sales. In 2008, the retailer emitted about 53 tons of emissions per $1 million in sales, down from about 55 tons in 2007 and 58 tons in 2006, according to its 2009 Global Sustainability Report.
The retailer, which owns 7,873 retail outlets internationally, is striving for what President and Chief Executive Officer Michael Duke calls “sustainable sustainability.” Wal-Mart adopted its “Sustainability 360” initiative in 2005, which operates under three overall goals: 100 percent reliance on renewable energy; to create zero waste; to sell products that sustain resources and the environment. Like everything else Wal-Mart does, its CSR report is big, at 111 pages. Download the PDF here. Here are some highlights from the report.
- About 57 percent of waste generated by stores, clubs and disribution centers was diverted from landfills in 2008.
- The retailer has more than 100,000 suppliers worldwide.
- Wal-Mart will open a prototype store in the U.S. that is 25-30 percent more efficient.
- More than 500 locations have been retrofitted with refrigerated display cases that use LED bulbs.
- The company has surpassed its goal to increase fleet efficiency by 25 percent by 2008, against a 2005 baseline. At 38 percent increased efficiency, the retailer is moving toward its goal to double U.S. fleet efficiency by 2015.
- Wal-Mart China has reduced energy use in existing stores by 24 percent since 2005.
- Seiyu, Wal-Mart’s Japanese subsidiary, was able to transport 16 percent more goods over the same distance by using more efficient routing and loading practices, as well as through consolidating operations and deliveries.
- The retailer has used its Packaging Scorecard system to gather information on 300,000 items carried at Wal-Mart and 90 percent of items at Sam’s Club.
- At Sam’s Club, 100 percent of jewelry gift boxes are made from recycled content.
- The company had pledged to remove PVC from U.S. private brand packaging by October 2007. However, Wal-Mart says it has not found suitable replacements for over-the-counter, tamper-evident items, as ell as metal can sealants and meat wrapping. PVC will not be replaced until the retailer decides on a suitable alternative.
- About 79 percent of direct import products came from factories that received one of the retailer’s top two ratings regarding environmental and social practices. By 2012, the retailer aims for 95 percent of production to achieve either of the top two ratings.
- More stores are adding daylight harvesting into their design, a practice that reduces electric lighting in sales areas up to 75 percent during the daytime.
Earlier this year, Wal-Mart said it aims to double the amount of solar power it uses by late 2010. Here is how Wal-Mart organizes sustainability functions within its operations.