Wal-Mart wants suppliers to cut greenhouse gas emissions

Bentonville, Ark. In its latest sustainability initiative, Wal-Mart Stores Thursday announced an ambitious goal to eliminate 20 million metric tons of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions from the lifecycle of products its sells around the world by the end of 2015. The company said the effort would be measurable and done in close partnership with its suppliers.

“Walmart and our supplier partners have a history of working together to create a more efficient supply chain that benefits all. This effort to reduce energy will be no different,” said Mike Duke, Wal-Mart president and CEO.

Wal-Mart’s announced goal represents one and a half times the company's estimated global carbon footprint growth during the next five years and is the equivalent of taking more than 3.8 million cars off the road for a year.

Calling energy efficiency and carbon reduction the central issues in the world today, Duke cited the need for a comprehensive legislation policy that addresses energy, energy security and pollution reduction. He said Wal-Mart needs to push for greater efficiency to maintain a competitive edge as it expands globally amid higher energy costs.

“We’ve been working to make a difference in these areas, both in our own footprint and our supply chain,” he said. “We know that we have an opportunity to do more and the capacity to do more. Our analysis has shown that we have opportunities in many of our private-label products and with our supply chain.”

Wal-Mart plans to focus on product categories that have the highest carbon footprint and work with those suppliers to reduce emissions from the product's life cycle. That could include sourcing the raw materials, manufacturing, transportation, and the use of the product or disposal. The company said it will provide experts to work with the suppliers to assess how they can cut emissions.

Wal-Mart is collaborating with the Environmental Defense Fund and other environmental experts to measure reduction. It said it won't force suppliers to make changes but will work with them on projects that will reduce both emissions and costs.

The chain’s other external advisers include PricewaterhouseCoopers, ClearCarbon, the Carbon Disclosure Project and the Applied Sustainability Center (ASC) at the University of Arkansas. This team will identify projects, quantify reductions, engage suppliers and ensure proper procedures are followed for each GHG reduction claim.

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

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