Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Top Story

Wal-Mart leads corporate greening movement

Wal-Mart, once thought of as the big bad guy on the block, says it has reduced the carbon footprint of its stores by 10 percent, and its trucking fleet by much more than that since 2005, saving hundreds of millions of dollars in the process and driving an industry-wide corporate sustainability movement.

The Bentonville-based retail giant says it has also shown its suppliers in the U.S. and China how to lower their carbon emissions and energy bills by 20 to 60 percent, according to Edward Humes, author of "Force of Nature: The Unlikely Story of Wal-Mart's Green Revolution," in a story in the L.A. Times.

Humes says in the article: "The golden age of environmentalism is long over. The days when 20 million Americans showed up for Earth Day and pressured Congress into creating landmark bipartisan legislation to protect air, water and endangered species are unlikely to return any time soon. Back then the enemy of the environment was big business. Today, businesses provide one of the few encouraging trends on the environment, a way to turn the tables and show that opponents to investing in green are the ones hurting America."

Wal-Mart, and others following the retailer's example, is, according to Humes, finding out that sustainable initiatives are not just good public relations, but can make financial sense as well.

Other industry-leading green initiatives by Wal-Mart include the effort to reduce all of its product package sizes by 5 percent that, while saving more trees, is projected to save the company an estimated $3.4 billion.

Wal-Mart in turn is making these types of demands on its suppliers, such as the example Humes gives of detergent bottles that retailer sells, needing to be smaller, reportedly saving 400 million gallons of water, 95 million pounds of plastic, 125 million pounds of cardboard and half-a-million gallons of diesel fuel from reduced transport, over a three-year period.

Wal-Mart also has the goal of zero-waste going to landfills, and the company says it has already slashed its waste in California by 81 percent in a pilot program.

Big manufacturers that supply Wal-Mart, such as Unilever, General Mills, along with industry sectors like apparel and electronics companies, have partnered with the world's largest retailer in green initiatives in addition to launching their own.

For the full L.A. Times story:



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