Wal-Mart: The Next Steps Toward Sustainability


Image Credit- Jeff McIntyre-Strasburg at Sustainablog
Two years ago inTreeHugger we wrote about Lee Scott's October Surprise, his speech laying out the dramatic plans he had to take Wal-Mart into the 21st Century. He said at the time: "What if we used our size and resources to make this country and this earth an even better place for all?

We were skeptical and said " We will wait and see"

To our surprise, Lee Scott is still at the helm of Wal-Mart, and he has been meeting many of his commitments. Yesterday he made new ones; we provide a quick summary below and will follow up with greater detail.
Compact fluorescent bulbs at a Wal-Mart in Kansas City, Mo. Lee Scott says that the company had sold 145 million of the bulbs. Image credit Ed Zurga, Bloomberg News

Some of the points from Lee Scott's speech:

-to work with suppliers to make electrical products 25% more efficient;
-to sell only energy star rated air conditioners by 2010;
-to double the sales of home efficiency products;
-to look at selling hybrid or plug-in electric cars (and maybe charge them from turbines in our parking lots)
-to rebuild the supply chain:

"We will require these suppliers to demonstrate that their factories meet specific environmental,
social and quality standards.....we will favor -- and in some cases even pay more -- for suppliers that meet our standards and share our commitment to quality and sustainability. Paying more in the short term for quality will mean paying less in the long term as a company."

In another post on Wal-Mart we noted that Lee Scott's ambitions contradicted those of the founder, Sam Walton, and that all of the green pronouncements in the world do not speak to their core customer, who is after always low prices, always. But he has survived and the company has thrived. The Wal-Mart Effect may yet do for the environment what it did for the American economy, which was to affect us all, whether we shopped there or not. ::PDF of speech by Lee Scott from New York Times

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