Walmart recently used its annual Global Sustainability Milestone Meeting to highlight progress with its Sustainability Index, an index used to track the environmental impact of its products, and to announce its future sustainability objectives. To date, the index has been applied to 200 product categories and 1,000 suppliers.
Dan Bartlett, Executive Vice President Corporate Affairs told the meeting that, for Walmart, sustainability is always a business-led process. Bartlett said that, to sustain over the long haul the type of achievements and objectives that Walmart has, sustainability has to be driven from within the business.
Among Walmart’s sustainability objectives:
- increased recycling and use of recycled materials
- reducing or eliminating the use of certain priority chemicals and their replacement with greener alternatives
- reducing fertilizer use in agriculture by requiring suppliers who use commodity grains, corn, wheat and soy in their products to develop a fertilizer optimization plan
- expanding the sustainability index to Walmart operations in Chile, Mexico, and South Africa
- improving energy efficiency throughout the supply chain
An approximately 90 minute video of the Milestone Meeting, which includes presentations on some of the initiatives already taken is available at http://news.walmart.com/events/global-sustainability-milestone-meeting-february-2014
Walmart’s 170-page 2013 Global Responsibility Report is at http://cdn.corporate.walmart.com/39/97/81c4b26546b3913979b260ea0a74/updated-2013-global-responsibility-report_130113953638624649.pdf
As the progress summary beginning on page numbered 152 of the Global Responsibility Report shows, Walmart does not always achieve its objectives (eg. packaging reduction), some objectives are adjusted while still in progress, and some are rather small, but overall Walmart sustainability initiatives provide useful ideas as well as some inspiration and leadership for other food and consumer products companies.