Wal-Mart sets en­vi­ron­men­tal plan as peo­ple seek green items

Daily Local News (West Chester, PA) - - BUSINESS - By Anne D’In­no­cen­zio

Wal-Mart is lay­ing out its en­vi­ron­men­tal map for the next sev­eral years as it tries to sat­isfy cus­tomers who want green prod­ucts at af­ford­able prices.

The world’s largest re­tailer says it will seek to re­duce emis­sions in its own op­er­a­tions by 18 per­cent by 2025, and work to­ward adding no waste to land­fills in key mar­kets like Canada and the United States. It also plans to be pow­ered by 50 per­cent clean and re­new­able en­ergy sources.

Wal-Mart’s goals, be­ing an­nounced Fri­day by CEO Doug McMil­lon, fol­low a plan set in 2005 as the com­pany sought to de­flect crit­i­cism of its prac­tices and bur­nish its im­age. Wal­Mart has ex­tended its ef­fort since then into its sup­ply chain, which be­cause of its size — more than 10,000 stores glob­ally — gives it out­sized in­flu­ence on the over­all in­dus­try.

The Ben­tonville, Arkansas-based re­tailer is un­der pres­sure from con­sumers, espe­cially mil­len­ni­als, who want en­vi­ron­men­tally friendly items. Wal-Mart is look­ing at tech­nol­ogy that will let shop­pers scan food to learn its ori­gins and other in­for­ma­tion, beyond just tag­ging prod­ucts with “green la­bels.”

Kath­leen McLaugh­lin, a Wal-Mart se­nior vice pres­i­dent, said she couldn’t es­ti­mate how much the pro­grams will save or cost. While they have an im­pact on society, they over­all also make good business sense, she said.

Some ar­eas of fo­cus in­clude:

The com­pany will use a com­bi­na­tion of en­ergy-ef­fi­ciency mea­sures and ex­pand its use of clean and re­new­able sources to re­duce emis­sions in its op­er­a­tions. Wal-Mart says it will be the first re­tailer to have an emis­sion­sre­duc­tion plan ap­proved by the Sci­ence Based Tar­gets ini­tia­tive in part­ner­ship with the Paris Cli­mate Agree­ment in De­cem­ber 2015. The Sci­ence-Based Tar­gets ini­tia­tive is a part­ner­ship with World Wildlife Fund, World Re­sources In­sti­tute and oth­ers. Wal­Mart will also work with sup­pli­ers to scale back emis­sions by one gi­ga­ton by 2030, which it says is equiv­a­lent to tak­ing 211 mil­lion cars from the road a year.

Wal-Mart says it hopes to be adding zero waste to land­fills in Canada, Ja­pan, the United King­dom and the United States by 2025. It plans to re­fine how it buys food so less of it goes un­sold, and any that does is con­verted to pet food or fer­til­iz­ers or di­verted to char­i­ties.

The com­pany wants its pri­vate-brand pack­ag­ing to be 100 per­cent re­cy­clable. It also plans to dou­ble sales of locally grown pro­duce by 2025. It’s also work­ing with sup­pli­ers and its pri­vate-la­bel prod­ucts to elim­i­nate cer­ti­fied syn­thetic col­ors and ar­ti­fi­cial fla­vors and get rid of other food ad­di­tives where pos­si­ble.

Wal-Mart plans to work with in­dus­try groups and oth­ers to en­sure that work­ers glob­ally in sec­tors like seafood, pro­duce, cloth­ing and elec­tron­ics are not forced to pay fees to land jobs and are not taken ad­van­tage of by re­cruit­ing agents. It plans to train sup­pli­ers to mon­i­tor whether work­ers are be­ing ex­ploited.

Wal-Mart was among the com­pa­nies to which an Associated Press probe last year traced seafood that came through a fish­ing in­dus­try that used slave la­bor. The seafood was also linked to su­per­mar­kets and pet sup­pli­ers such as Kroger, Whole Foods, and Petco.

Diane Re­gas, ex­ec­u­tive di­rec­tor at the En­vi­ron­men­tal De­fense Fund, says Wal-Mart de­serves credit for more than meet­ing its sus­tain­abil­ity com­mit­ment. “I think that sur­prises peo­ple,” Re­gas said, but added, “There is a huge amount more to be done.”

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from USA

© PressReader. All rights reserved.