Wal-Mart CEO Announces Company-Wide Sustainability Plan

Wal-Mart CEO Announces Company-Wide Sustainability Plan

As the keynote lecturer at the Prince of Wales's Business and the Environment Programme, Wal-Mart President and CEO Lee Scott announced the company’s "Sustainability 360" project, intended to make envirnonmental concerns central to its business decisions.

A key element of the plan is the introduction of "Global Innovation Projects" -- one of which is a challenge for Wal-Mart associates and suppliers to start thinking about how to remove non-renewable energy from the products the company sells.

"Perhaps the most far-reaching opportunity we have with our suppliers is a simple idea with potentially profound consequences," Scott said. "Just think about this: What if we worked with our suppliers to take non-renewable energy off our shelves and out of the lives of our customers? We could create metrics and share best practices so our suppliers could make products that rely less and less on carbon-based energy."

In laying out the plan, Scott highlighted Wal-Mart’s initiative to work with suppliers to reduce packaging by five percent by 2013 -- an effort that will be equal to removing 213,000 trucks from the road, and saving approximately 324,000 tons of coal and 67 million gallons of diesel fuel per year. He also talked about the company’s goal to develop partnerships that help suppliers run more sustainable businesses and factories.

In his speech, Scott highlighted how initiatives taking place at Wal-Mart’s operations in the United Kingdom fit this idea, including reducing packaging on food products by 25 percent and selling more energy efficient light bulbs than standard bulbs by 2008.

Focusing on Wal-Mart’s work to reach out to communities around the globe, Scott discussed efforts to promote sustainable practices when entering new markets. The company’s effort to make environmentally friendly products more affordable and available to customers aligns with Wal-Mart’s purpose to save people money so they can live better lives.

Scott also emphasized that sustainability is consistent with the company’s culture, describing the integral role that associates play in helping Wal-Mart reach its objectives.

Scott acknowledged that the journey to a sustainable corporation is long, but stressed all businesses have a role to play. "We all have an opportunity to be more sustainable. But even more, we have a responsibility. We need to be sustainable companies and countries made up of people who live sustainable lives. If we do that, if we do it throughout the coming decades, I believe we will make sustainability... sustainable. And this generation will leave a healthier humanity and a healthier planet to future generations."