Walmart is known for a lot of things – from everyday low prices, destroying local communities to creating imbalance in US-China trade. However, for the past year or so it has been creating ripples in the Sustainability field. The ripples were for two reasons. One, should Walmart be believed? and two, if what Walmart is saying is true then it can effect the whole business world due to the size and influence of the organization.
Last year, H. Lee Scott, the CEO of Walmart have a speech on Leadership in the 21st Century. In this speech he outlined the need for sustainability and three ambitious goals for the corporation.
1. to be supplied 100 percent by renewable energy;
2. to create zero waste; and,
3. to sell products that sustain our resources and the environment.
After this speech, Walmart took many steps forward(PDF) in the sustainability field.
In a keynote speech to the Prince of Wales’s Business and Environment Programme, Lee Scott unveiled a company wide program called “Sustainability 360″. The sustainability program will now be part of its associates, customers and more importantly suppliers.
In the realm of the supply chain Walmart can make a huge difference. For example, Walmart’s target to reduce 5% packaging in all its products by 2013 will result in its 60,000 suppliers changing and saving a whooping $3.4 billion in Walmart’s supply chain and the potential to save $11 billion in the global supply chain.
Walmart is clearly showing leadership in its short 1.5 year journey in the sustainability area. It is a matter of time other large organizations around the world take this up. Clearly, the discussion for the “business case for sustainability” is over. The time is now for ideas, strategies, frameworks and tools and ofcourse the right people to make this happen.