Wal-Mart revises sustainability initiatives

by Keith Nunes
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PHILADELPHIA — Doubling the sales of locally grown produce in the United States, enhancing the sustainable sourcing of such commodities as bananas, coffee and tea, and adopting a new plan to reduce greenhouse gas emissions are just three goals Wal-Mart Stores Inc., Bentonville, Arkansas, will strive to achieve going forward. The company’s updated sustainability agenda was first outlined by CEO Doug McMillon Nov. 4 during a presentation at the Net Impact Conference held in Philadelphia.

Doug
Doug McMillon, CEO of Wal-Mart 

“We want to make sure Wal-Mart is a company that our associates and customers are proud of — and that we are always doing right by them and by the communities they live in,” McMillon said. “That’s really what these commitments are about. And that’s why we’re so passionate about them.”

The updated plan builds on three environmental sustainability goals Wal-Mart set in 2005 — to create zero waste in company operations, to operate with 100 percent renewable energy, and to sell products that sustain natural resources and the environment.

Going forward, McMillon said the retailer will source half of its energy needs from renewable sources by 2025. Wal-Mart will use a combination of energy-efficiency measures, together with expanded use of renewable energy, to reduce emissions in its own operations by 18 percent by 2025. Additionally, Wal-Mart will work with suppliers to reduce emissions by 1 gigaton by 2030, equivalent to taking more than 211 million passenger vehicles off of US roads and highways for a year, according to the company. In addition, Wal-Mart has set a goal of ensuring its private brands packaging will be 100 percent recyclable by 2025.

 Great Value
Wal-Mart has set a goal of ensuring its private brands packaging will be 100 percent recyclable by 2025. 
 

Private brands product reformulation efforts also will be a part of the plan. The company has pledged to work with its suppliers to remove synthetic colors and artificial flavors in products as well as reduce sodium, added sugars and saturated fat where possible. In the presentation, McMillon added that Wal-Mart will work with national brands to do the same.

“As it relates to food, our goal is to become the world’s most affordable retailer of safe and healthier foods by 2025 and we are going to be transparent about it,” he said.  “We have some big goals as it relates to food.”

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