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Walmart Sustainability Report: GHG Intensity Down 5.4%

Walmart’s greenhouse gas emissions fell 5.4 percent relative to revenue in 2011, from 49.7 to 47.0 metric tons per dollar, according to the company’s sixth annual Global Responsibility Report.

GHGs for 2011 – the latest year for which it reports such emissions – were also down 3.8 percent per retail area on the previous year, from 20.9 to 20.1 metric tons CO2e per 1,000 square feet.

Worldwide, scope 1 and 2 GHG emissions were up 0.9 percent in 2011, from 20.6 to 20.8 million metric tons CO2e. The report shows US Scope 1 and 2 GHGs static from 2009 through 2011 at 15 million metric tons CO2e, though if there were any movement smaller than 1 mmt, this broad-brush chart wouldn’t show it.

Since 2005 the company’s total GHG emissions, including transportation and facilities, both old and new, grew at a quarter the rate of sales and square footage growth. Walmart says it is on track to eliminate 20 million metric tons of greenhouse gas emissions from its global supply chain by the end of 2015.

Report overview

Like Unilever on Monday, Walmart has managed to produce a thick sustainability report that omits a lot of key figures. How did energy consumption change in 2012? How much energy does it consume per dollar or square foot? What about water?

The company has also announced many of the headline results before. For example, in March it revealed that by the end of 2011, it had beaten its 2012 goal to cut GHGs 20 percent from a 2005 baseline.


One of the biggest, newly-reported improvements was in fleet efficiency. Walmart U.S. logistics improved their fleet efficiency by 10 percent in 2012, and by 80 percent over a 2005 baseline, although the company does not say how this efficiency is measured. The company has a goal of doubling its US fleet efficiency by October 2015.


As of 2012, more than 125 Walmart stores and two Sams Club locations in the US used the refrigerants glycol and carbon dioxide, which have low global warming potential. The company has committed, as a member of the Consumer Goods Forum, to begin phasing out hydrofluorocarbons by 2015.

Also last year, the company outfitted 138 stores and clubs in the U.S. and Puerto Rico with higher-efficiency motors in their walk-in coolers and freezers.

Refrigerants account for 13 percent of Walmart’s total corporate carbon footprint, contributing nearly twice the GHGs of its trucking fuel, and the company has cut total refrigerant-related emissions by nearly 8 percent compared to its 2005 base facilities. 


The company reported few consumption or efficiency figures. It did say that last year it met a goal to improve energy efficiency by 20 percent per unit of production, versus a 2007 baseline, at the top 200 Chinese factories from which it sources directly. During the program period, 210 factories achieved the goal, and total energy savings were 2.2 billion kWh, equivalent to 2.1 million metric tons.

Last week Walmart announced a new goal of cutting the energy intensity of its buildings by 20 percent by 2020, in kWh per square foot from a 2010 baseline.


As of 2012, Walmart-driven renewable energy projects and purchases provided about 4 percent of its buildings’ electricity needs. The grid supplied another 17 percent, for a total of 21 percent renewable electricity. Overall renewables supplied 17 percent of its buildings’ energy needs.

But the company does not say how this figure compares to previous years. It says total generation from renewables fell from 1.2 to 1.1 million MWh, a drop of 8.3 percent – but without similar figures for total energy consumption, one can’t tell if renewables’ share fell or rose.

The company has a goal to use 100 percent renewable energy, and last week it announced a new commitment to produce or procure 7 billion kWh a year of renewable energy by 2020, in a 600 percent increase over 2010 levels.

In 2012 Walmart installed 100 rooftop solar installations in locations such as Arizona, California, and Ohio, as well a 1 MW utility-scale wind turbine at a distribution center in California. Walmart Mexico started construction on two utility-scale wind projects and two micro-hydro projects, while Walmart India installed its first solar water heaters and Walmart Chile launched its first large-scale renewable RFP to begin introducing renewable projects to local operations.

EPA has recognized Walmart as the largest on-site green power generator in the US, with more than 200 solar projects across the country.


The company keeps 80.9 percent of its US store and Sam’s Club waste from landfill. It is aiming for zero waste to landfill at those locations by 2025.

In 2012 the company exceeded its target of reducing global plastic shopping bag waste by an average of 33 percent per store, against a 2007 baseline, meeting the goal a year early. It cut this waste by 38.1 percent, or about 10 billion bags. In Brazil alone, it says it cut plastic bag consumption by more than 50 percent.

Walmart says it will reduce food waste in emerging market stores and clubs by 15 percent and in its other markets by 10 percent by the end of 2015 (versus a 2009 Baseline). At Sam’s Club, the company rolled out its Fresh Inventory Optimization program in 2011. This cut the amount of food thrown away in 2011 and 2012, and in FY2013, helped the company avoid $10.5 million in costs while growing sales by over 5.1 percent.

It also recently met a goal to reduce packaging by five percent by 2013, from a 2008 baseline. It has worked with suppliers to cut the overall GHG impact of its packaging by an average of 9.8 percent in Walmart US stores, 9.1 percent in Sam’s Clubs in the US and 16 percent in Walmart Canada stores.

The company says returns from defective merchandise for FY 2013 were 0.94 percent, meetings its target to drive such returns to under 1 percent. 

Audits and certification

In 2013, 96 percent of direct import factories received one of the two highest Walmart ratings (green and yellow) for environmental and social practices. Its goal had been 95 percent by end of 2012.

The company reports that 97 percent of its farmed fish is BAP certified, and the remaining 3 percent are low environmental risk fisheries such as trout, oysters, clams and mussels, where there are no certification standards available. The company says it is therefore in compliance with its policy to require that all fresh and frozen, farmed and wild seafood products sold at Walmart and Sam’s Club are certified as sustainable by a third party using Marine Stewardship Council (MSC), Best Aquaculture Practices (BAP) or equivalent standards.

It reports that 20 percent of its global palm oil use supports sustainable growing, including GreenPalm, Mass Balance and Segregated certification systems. Six of Walmart’s international markets purchased GreenPalm certificates to cover all of their 2012 palm usage. Walmart is requiring sustainably sourced palm oil in all of its private-brand products globally by the end of 2015. 

Sustainability Index

The company aims to use its Sustainability Index to influence the design of its U.S. private-brand products starting in 2013, and says it is on track with that goal. It has started evaluating the index’s results in high-volume private brand categories, to find the products with the best opportunities for design improvements.

Walmart exceeded its goal to launch the index with buyers and suppliers in 100 categories last year, and today it is being used in 190. Walmart says it will continue to roll out the index across other categories this year. It has also committed to source 70 percent of US Walmart and Sam’s Club merchandise from suppliers using the index, by 2017.

With FY 2013 sales of $466 billion, Walmart employs more than 2.2 million people worldwide.

Click for summaries of its sustainability reports published in 20122011 and 2010.

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