Walmart's Gives Itself a Green Pat on the Back With Its New Sustainability Report

Walmart has just released its latest sustainability report, covering how much it has reduced waste, increased locally grown produce, increased renewable energy usage, and a whole host of chest-puffingly good green stuff.

Anyone who's followed what I've written about Walmart in the past probably knows that I'm no big fan of the Bentonville behemoth. Strictly from an environmental perspective, the distance between Walmart's laudable eco-claims and how well that's actually put into practice is significant. Plus, some of Walmart's biggest green impact is in its very model of business, and not even hinted at in its internal critique. And then there's the fact that I just hate big box stores, that model of development, and frankly no amount of superficial greening will change that. It's a detestable state of affairs that I want no part of.

Which is all to say, what follows is what Walmart's self-reported progress towards some of its green goals.

  • 80.9% of Walmart's waste from US operations was diverted from landfills last year—a figure achieved by "recycling, donating, and repurposing waste."
  • Locally grown produce now makes up 10% of all Walmart food sales in the US. That's an increase of 97% over the previous year. Walmart defines local as grown and sold within the same state.
  • Walmart used 1.1 billion kWh of green electricity last year, moving it up to second-place in the EPA rankings of onsite renewable energy generation—a ranking, it's worth noting, Walmart achieved by only counting stores in certain states as participating in the program.
  • Walmart has saved customers $1 billion via "reducing or eliminating the price premium on more than 350 better-for-you items including low-sodium lunch meat, reduced fat peanut butter and fat-free salad dressing.

For a less congratulatory perspective on Walmart's sustainability efforts, I'll just refer you to the excellent reporting Mother Jones has done on Walmart. It's all good stuff. Start with All Walmart's Chinese Factories as Bad as Apple's, if you don't know where to start.

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