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Walmart Behind on Carbon Goal

Walmart is slightly behind on its carbon reduction goal, according to its 2011 Global Responsibility Report.

The two million-employee company is targeting a 20 percent cut in emissions from stores, clubs and distribution centers by 2012, from a 2005 baseline. (The metric counts only those locations that existed in 2005.) By the end of 2009 – the most recent year for which it has such data – Walmart had reduced its GHG emissions by 10.6 percent.

Meanwhile the company’s overall CO2 emissions, including stores constructed since 2005, have increased slightly (see chart). Walmart aims to eliminate 20 million metric tons of greenhouse gases from its global supply chain by the end of 2015.

The report said that Walmart has made steady year-to-year improvement towards its goals of creating zero waste, using 100 percent renewable energy and selling products that sustain people and the environment. Overall, the company has met 15 sustainability commitments, and announced nine new targets in 2010.

Efficiency improvements

Walmart has met a goal to improve the energy efficiency of its most energy-intensive products by 25 percent by January 2011, from a 2008 baseline. It made the improvements to 963 (or 52 percent) of its 1,847 computers, video game consoles, air conditioners and TVs.

Walmart has also met a goal to increase the efficiency of flat-panel TVs sold in the U.S. by 30 percent by 2010, from a 2008 baseline, although it has not hit the target at its Japanese stores.

To date, 119 factories in China have demonstrated a greater than 20 percent improvement in efficiency compared to a 2007 baseline, and Walmart met a goal to open a Chinese store prototype that reduces energy consumption by 40 percent from a 2005 baseline. It far exceeded a goal for half of electronics on its Chinese shelves to be Reduction of Hazardous Substances (RoHS) compliant by 2010, with 90 percent of products now RoHS-compliant.

Water reductions

Walmart China met a goal to cut water use in half by 2010, from a 2006 baseline.

Walmart de México reduced water intensity by 17 percent compared to a 2008 baseline, well on its way to meet a goal of 20 percent by 2013.

Fleet achievements

Walmart achieved a 65 percent improvement in fleet efficiency from 2005 to 2010, having already met a goal to achieve a 25 percent increase by 2008. In the past two years, Walmart replaced nearly two-thirds of its fleet with more efficient tractors, and says that in 2010 it delivered 57 million more cases while driving 49 million fewer miles.

This has avoided almost 40,000 metric tons of CO2 emissions, the equivalent to taking 7,600 cars off the road, Walmart said.

In Japan, the company has already met a goal to improve fleet efficiency by 25 percent from 2006 to 2012.

Progress on waste

Walmart said it cannot measure whether it has met a goal of reducing solid waste from its U.S. stores and clubs by 25 percent between 2005 and 2008 – because the company does not know the percentage of waste redirected or reduced in 2005.

“When our waste-reduction goals were set in 2005, we quickly realized that our previous waste-management tracking system was insufficient to accurately measure and manage our waste stream,” the report said. “Since setting the goal, we have worked side-by-side with our waste vendors to develop a more sophisticated waste-hauling system that allows us to measure and manage our waste stream.”

The company did report that its waste-redirection rate in 2010 was 64 percent. As reported last month, Walmart now redirects 81 percent of its waste from its California operations away from landfills.

And the company has a goal to eliminate landfill waste from U.S. stores and Sam’s Club locations by 2025.

Walmart also aims to reduce global plastic shopping bag waste by an average of 33 percent per store by 2013, from a 2007 baseline. So far it has found a 21 percent reduction – or about 3.5 billion bags – putting it on track to meet the target.

Other progress

Walmart met a goal to ensure that all foreign companies supplying shrimp for U.S. stores adhere to best aquaculture practices (BAP) set by the Aquaculture Certification Council (ACC) by 2011, and 73 percent by weight of wild and farmed seafood sold at Walmart U.S. and Sam’s Club is now certified.

The company reports that it has reduced customer returns on defective merchandise to 1.76 percent globally. And it says that more than 94 percent of its direct import factories have received one of the company’s two highest audit ratings.

Missed goals: Energy Star, PVC

Goals not met include an aim to, by 2010, sell only those air conditioners that are Energy Star rated. As of January 31, six of the eight models sold by Walmart are Energy Star-rated. The company says it was unable to meet the goal on the manual and remote-control models of its 5,000 BTU air conditioner, with the investment needed to bring these units into compliance far exceeding the energy savings a customer could realistically expect over the product lifetime.

Another unmet goal is a pledge to eliminate PVC from private brand packaging in the U.S. by 2007. Walmart says it continues to look for but has been unable to find suitable replacements for PVC in packaging such as meat wrapping, metal can sealants and tamper-evident bands for over-the-counter medications.

The company is behind the curve on its aim to cut use of phosphates in laundry and dish detergents in the Americas region by 70 percent from 2009 to 2011, having made only a 14.5 percent cut so far. And while it aims to have doubled the sale of energy-efficient products for the home (such as caulk, weather stripping, air filters, programmable thermostats and expanding foam) between 2008 and 2011, it’s so far increased sales by 28 percent.

“One primary challenge that has been identified as we work to achieve this goal is that a number of these items, such as programmable thermostats, once purchased, do not need to be repurchased,” the report noted. “Sales from the more consumable categories such as weather stripping and air filters, however, do continue to show strong growth.”

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