Wal-Mart details environmental progress

The majority of Walmart’s upcoming solar power sites will utilize thin film panels as seen on the Mountain View, Calif. store.

Bentonville, Ark. -- Wal-Mart Stores on Monday released its "2011 Global Responsibility Report." According to the report, the chain has made steady year-to-year improvement towards its goals of creating zero waste, using 100% renewable energy and selling products that sustain people and the environment.

The company is targeting a 20% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions by 2012 from its 2005 base of stores, clubs and distribution centers by 2012, from a 2005 baseline. By yearend 2009 -- the most recent year for which it has such data -- Walmart had reduced its GHG emissions by 10.6%. 

Here are some highlights with regards to Walmart’s U.S. operations:

Renewable Energy: In 2010, Walmart completed the installation of 35 solar projects in Arizona, California and Puerto Rico.  Eight of the installations utilized thin-film solar technology, (according to the report, the new technology, while similar to traditional crystalline panels in appearance, significantly reduces the use of raw materials in the manufacturing process.), and more installations are in the works. The thin-film solar arrays are expected to supply 20% to 30% of the total energy needs for each location.

The company also completed two microturbine wind projects on the parking lot light poles at the Walmart in Worcester, Mass., and at the Sam’s Club in Palmdale, Calif.

Lighting: As of March 2010, the majority of new and remodeled U.S. Walmart stores had replaced the 77-watt ceramic metal halide spotlights used to highlight produce, fixtures and wall-mounted signage with 12-watt LED PAR38 spotlights, saving approximately 50% in energy per installation.

In addition, 12.5-watt LED fixtures also replaced the 64-watt fluorescent fixtures in many of its store restrooms, generating an anticipated savings of 9,000 to 15,000 kilowatt hours per site. An additional 200 stores retrofitted the 58-watt traditional fluorescent lamps in low- and medium-temperature refrigerated cases with 20-watt LED fixtures, saving in excess of 67,000 kWh in each case door lighting and indirect refrigeration annually in the average superstore.

Refrigerant Leaks: Walmart’s U.S. facilities team has initiated a refrigerant leak reduction program across domestic stores and warehouse clubs that will significantly reduce GHG releases from refrigeration systems. (After purchased electricity, refrigerants are the chain’s second-largest source of GHG emissions.) As of 2010, this initiative led to a reduction of more than 107,000 pounds of refrigerants. 

Fleet Efficiency: Walmart realized a 65% improvement in fleet efficiency over its 2005 baseline in the United States. During the past two years, the chain has replaced nearly two-thirds of its fleet with more efficient tractors. Investments also include the purchase of 3,000 skirted trailers, which will drive fleet efficiency. In 2010, Walmart delivered 57 million more cases, while driving 49 million fewer miles.

Waste: According to this new tracking program, piloted from January through October 2010, Walmart’s stores in California have redirected 81% of their waste from landfills. The company has since rolled this program out to each state and anticipates having a U.S.-wide redirection rate with similar results.

The report can be found at walmartstores.com/Sustainability/7951.aspx.

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