Canadian Packaging

Walmart ratchets up green mandate


February 26, 2010
by Purchasingb2b Staff

The world’s largest retailer has expended much effort in establishing itself as a green leader in recent years. On February 25, it took things up a notch.

Walmart has announced its goal to eliminate 20 million tonnes of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions from its global supply chain by the end of 2015.

The goal—the effects of which would be equal to taking 3.8 million cars off the road—represents one and a half times the growth it estimates in its carbon footprint over the next five years, the company claims.

The ambitious target has been set in recognition of the fact that the carbon footprint of Walmart’s supply chain extends much further than its own operations. To establish the goal, the company collaborated with Environmental Defense Fund (EDF), PricewaterhouseCoopers, ClearCarbon Inc, the Carbon Disclosure Project and the Applied Sustainability Centre at the University of Arkansas.

“Today the world’s largest company begins a global race for carbon pollution cuts,” said Fred Krupp, president of Environmental Defense Fund.

“Walmart’s bold move will help companies identify steps to slash pollution and costs. As this story unfolds, it will transform a vast supply chain here at home, and around the world.”

Three steps

The company’s GHG-reduction program contains three steps.

First, the company will select products with the highest embedded carbon (that is, the lifecycle GHG emissions per unit multiplied by the amount sold).

Second, Walmart will encourage stakeholders in its supply chain responsible for these products to reduce GHGs in their sourcing, manufacturing, transportation, customer use or end-of-life disposal. In order to include these carbon reductions in its goals, the company must demonstrate that it has had direct influence on the change.

Third, Walmart and its suppliers will jointly account for the reductions, with ClearCarbon performing a quality assurance review of the claims to ensure the methodology, completeness and calculations are correct. If the claims meet the quality assurance check, PricewaterhouseCoopers will assess whether the defined procedures were followed consistently to quantify the reduction claim.

Mike Duke, Walmart’s president and CEO, explained the rationale behind the program.

“Reducing carbon in the life cycle of our products will often mean reducing energy use,” he said.

“That will mean greater efficiency and, with the rising cost of energy, lower costs, making our business stronger and more competitive. And, as we help our suppliers reduce their energy use, costs and carbon footprint, we’ll be helping our customers do the same thing.”