I know, I know. . .Walmart doesn’t SEEM like the type of company who is interested in sustainability. . . and there are folks out there who won’t believe it no matter what information or evidence I put out there. Oh well, you can’t reach everyone.
For those of you who know and trust me I will say this-I truly believe from everything I have seen, heard and learned that Walmart is committed to being sustainable.
Last week I watched Walmart’s Sustainability Milestone Meeting webcast live. Walmart asked if I’d like to share some information about the meeting and the things that I thought were most important. There was a lot to digest-it was an hour and a half long-so I want to just give you a few bullet points on what I thought was interesting or exciting:
- Regarding sustainability, Walmart CEO Mike Duke stated unequivocally: “Frankly, it is your job and it is my expectation that you will do your job” he also said that how folks are doing on sustainability is part of their performance evaluation. (note: if you want to make sure folks do something, then as the boss you make it part of their performance review!)
- Walmart actually started being concerned about sustainability after Hurricane Katrina. The executives and board saw how much the scale of Walmart enabled them to make a difference there and they saw that they had the scale and power to make a difference elsewhere-specifically in sustainability.
- This last year Walmart changed the packaging on their internal brand of toys to get rid of those twist ties that everyone hates. They saved 1 BILLION feet of wire-enough to wrap around the world 8X!
- At Sams Club, getting rid of those “full form” plastic body things they used to put their swimsuits on and using regular hangers saved 160,000 lbs of plastic!
- Walmart is working with others to create a sustainability index that would go on packaging, like the nutritional information label that we have currently. This is a HUGE undertaking (what do you measure exactly? how do you grade it?) but it will be an amazing tool for consumers to use when deciding what products to purchase.
- Walmart sees sustainability as a win all the way around, their Chief Financial Officier stated that with sustainability “the customer wins, the associate wins, company wins, and the environment wins” and “From a financial perspective, we need to reduce expenses – we can’t do that without sustainability.”
- This last year Walmart increased it’s locally grown produce sold in US stores by 97%–locally grown produce now accounts for more than 10% of all produce sold in U.S. stores.
- Walmart has done (and will continue to do) internal “Trash Audits” where they actually went through what was thrown out in the Walmart HQ building to see how much was being wasted-things like half used pencils or white paper without printing on it. They found over $9000 worth of waste in a week and made a commitment to change that.
There was plenty more, about increasing fleet efficiency, the commitment to sustainable palm oil, working with coffee growers to find the best methodology for sustainable production–It took them an hour and a half to cover it all, I can’t pop it all out in a short blog post!
If you want to hear exactly what was said at the sustainability milestone meeting last week-the 90 minute webcast is up and available for anyone who would like to watch it: Walmart Sustainability Milestone Meeting 2012