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Walmart is enhancing sustainability of operations and global value chains

Walmart recently released its eleventh annual Global Responsibility Report (GRR), highlighting the company’s progress and accomplishments in the fiscal year 2018 to increase economic opportunity, enhance the sustainability of supply chains and strengthen local communities.

Walmart is enhancing sustainability
Figure: 2018 Global Responsibility Report outlines Walmart’s milestones toward increasing economic opportunity, enhancing sustainability and strengthening local communities. Credit: Walmart.

Walmart is the world’s largest company by revenue—over US$ 500 billion, according to Fortune Global 500 list in 2018—as well as the largest private employer in the world with 2.3 million employees.

“At Walmart, we believe strengthening societal systems is not only the responsible thing to do, but it also maximizes business value,” said Kathleen McLaughlin, President of the Walmart Foundation and chief sustainability officer for Walmart.

She also hoped that, through their initiatives, we hope to accelerate progress and spark collective action on the issues that matter most to their customers, business and communities – helping to transform retail and retail supply chains for economic, environmental and social sustainability.

Walmart aims to lead on the environmental, social and governance issues that matter most to customers, associates, shareholders and communities. To become the most trusted retailer in a way that creates value for business and society, Walmart works in partnership with suppliers, NGOs, thought leaders and elected officials to positively create an impact on entire systems.

According to the ‘2018 Global Responsibility Report’, the company plans to achieve ‘zero waste’ in its American, Japanese, Canadian, and British supply chains by 2025. It has also set a goal to be powered by 50 percent renewable sources by 2025 and has currently achieved 28 percent of the same. With such impressive targets and work that have been done so far, this report explains Walmart’s efforts for being sustainable.

With regards to its stakeholders and their environmental, social, and governance (ESG) priorities, understanding Walmart’s standards, responsible sourcing, emissions, deforestation, water, waste, safe and healthy products; and opportunity for diverse suppliers are the main points.

Walmart is pursuing with suppliers and others in apparel and textiles including promoting safer working conditions, encouraging responsible recruitment practices, collaborating with industry stakeholders and setting expectations for responsible labor practices with suppliers. To ensure transparency in this product category, Sustainability Index and Higg Index are being used by the company.

At Walmart, we believe strengthening societal systems is not only the responsible thing to do, but it also maximizes business value.

Kathleen McLaughlin, Chief Sustainability Officer, President, Walmart Foundation

For improving practices in the textile and apparel value chain, Walmart is supporting efforts across the textile value chain to help improve sustainability while delivering high-quality apparel, towels, and other fabric products which cover sustainable cotton and sustainable mills.

For sustainable mills, it launched the Mill Sustainability Program in October 2016 with 10 suppliers and their mill partners to improve environmental-impact areas of the mill. Since the program’s launch, the participation has expanded to suppliers representing over 40 percent of its U.S. sales volume for apparel and home textiles.

The company is challenging suppliers to deliver Every Day Low True Cost (EDLTC) products that are more sustainable—without raising the price. For example, Hanes Max Cushion Crew Socks are made with 20 percent recycled Repreve polyester in an efficient facility that derives an average 70 percent of its energy from renewable sources in 2017. To engage customers in these products, the company will be soon highlighting the key sustainability attributes of the EDLTC story alongside the product.

Doug McMillon, President and CEO, Walmart Inc., proudly stated, “Today, we’re leading a new transformation—one that combines our stores and clubs with e-commerce to make every day easier for busy families. At the same time, we know our transformation is about more than the shopping experience. Technology has created a new level of transparency and, increasingly, customers want to do business with companies they trust.”

Walmart has made significant progress towards ambitious goals set more than a decade ago including to be powered by 100 percent renewable energy, create zero waste and sell products that sustain people and the environment.

The report highlights a number of initiatives including significant investments in higher wages, training and increased parental leave for eligible associates; a collaborative initiative with suppliers across the value chain to reduce one billion metric tons, or one gigaton, of emissions by 2030 known as Project Gigaton™; and further collaborations with suppliers, nonprofit organizations and others to help combat forced labor in the global supply chain.

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