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Dive Brief:

  • Rob Walton, former Chairman of the Board of Wal-Mart from 1992-2015, recently issued a commentary on CNBC regarding the retailer's commitment to sustainability, and its plan to enlist its supply chain in meeting those goals. 
  • Walton stated Wal-Mart intends to power 50% of its operations via renewable resources by 2025. The commentary also claimed that between 2005 and 2015, the retail leviathan doubled its fleet's efficiency, having cut CO2 emissions by roughly 650,000 metric tons.
  • Additionally, Wal-Mart aims to challenge countless partners throughout its supply chain to further cut 1 gigaton of emissions by 2030, equivalent to the total annual emissions from all U.S. passenger vehicles. 

Dive Insight:

It's well-known that the biggest of the big boxes wields considerable power among those whose products are lucky enough to occupy shelf space. Wal-Mart's company policies often rely on this leverage to encourage semi-willing collaborations from suppliers looking to retain market share.

But despite the talk of sustainability, doubt exists about whether Wal-Mart has actually succeeded in its greening efforts. A 2013 report published by the Institute for Local Self-Reliance found Wal-Mart’s greenhouse gas emissions have not only grown since 2005, but the percentage of power the giant retailer draws from renewable resources also falls well behind that of other companies. 

In theory, Wal-Mart's goal to enact sustainability are laudable,and shows the policies require long-term goals and full supply chain collaboration (like solar panels on distribution centers). In practice, however, it would not be the first time Wal-Mart fails to enforce a policy adopted in the 2000s, so until verifiable numbers are settled upon, questions will remain about Wal-Mart's environmental policy.


This post originally appears on our sister publication, Supply Chain Dive. Our mission is to provide busy professionals like you with a bird's-eye-view of the Supply Chain industry in 60 seconds. To subscribe to our daily newsletter click here.