The announcement represents something of a turnaround for the company. At Walmart’s 2009 Sustainability Milestones Meeting, CEO Mike Duke announced that the retailer was on track to meet 36 of its 37 sustainability goals. The one goal that was not on track was the emissions reduction target, Bloomberg reports. By the end of 2010 Walmart had recorded an absolute greenhouse gas reduction from existing facilities of just 12.74 percent compared to its 2005 baseline.
Walmart’s use of green energy has been a significant factor in meeting the emissions goal, according to Greg Trimble, the company’s senior director of global energy development and reporting, and the company has just announced 12 new solar installations at stores in Ohio. The arrays will add about 6,000 MWh of generation production and are expected to supply about 5 to 20 percent of each store’s overall electricity use.
Walmart also just announced the installation of solar power arrays at three stores in Kahului, Kailua-Kona and Kapolei, Hawaii. The 311 kW solar power rooftop system on each store will produce more than 400,000 kWh of solar electricity.
According to the EPA’s Green Power Partnership ranking, Walmart is the fifth-largest user of clean energy in the US. While just 4 percent of its power comes from renewable sources, Walmart’s sheer scale means that that proportion translates to over 751,000 MWh of annual power usage.
Despite the emissions reduction at existing facilities, when accounting for expansion, the retail giant’s absolute emissions from Walmart stores, Sam’s Clubs, and distribution increased from around 19 million tons of carbon dioxide equivalent in 2005 to 22 million tons in 2010, the most recent year with published data, Bloomberg reports.
Furthermore, some environmentalists remain unconvinced by Walmart’s reported green progress. Stacy Mitchell of the Institute of Local Self-Reliance told Bloomberg that Walmart’s growth is “very bad for the environment.”
In February, Walmart announced plans to eliminate 20 million metric tons of greenhouse gas emissions from its global supply chain by the end of 2015.
The University of South Carolina recently revealed it will use the Walmart Sustainability Case Project, an in-depth analysis of the retailer’s effort to develop and implement zero waste goals, sell sustainable products and use 100 percent renewable energy, to teach business students and executives about sustainability and business development.