Walmart released its 10th annual Global Responsibility Report, which looks back at the company’s progress during fiscal year 2017 in advancing the key areas of opportunity, sustainability and local communities. The report also looks ahead at the retailer’s role in helping rewire whole social and environmental systems as it strives toward a new era of trust and transparency.
“At Walmart, we aim to use our strengths and collaborate with others to transform the systems we all rely on,” Kathleen McLaughlin, chief sustainability officer and president of the Walmart Foundation, said in a statement. “We believe that the value-maximizing strategy is the one that creates shared value for customers, business and society.”
Earlier this week, Walmart launched a sustainability platform inviting suppliers to join Walmart in committing to reduce greenhouse gas emissions resulting from their operations and supply chains. Dubbed Project Gigaton, this initiative will provide an emissions reduction toolkit to a broad network of suppliers seeking to eliminate one gigaton of emissions, focusing on areas such as manufacturing, materials and use of products by 2030. That’s the equivalent to taking more than 211 million passenger vehicles off of U.S. roads and highways for a year.
Walmart says it is the first retailer with a verified science-based target emissions-reduction plan. The company aims to reduce its absolute Scope 1 and 2 emissions by 18 percent by 2025. The retailer will also work to reduce CO2e, or carbon dioxide equivalent, emissions from upstream and downstream Scope 3 sources by one billion tons (a gigaton) between 2015 and 2030.
“We are proud of the improvements we’ve made in reducing our own emissions, but we aim to do more. That’s why we’re working with our suppliers and others on Project Gigaton,” McLaughlin said in a statement.
Walmart has identified energy, agriculture, waste, packaging, deforestation, and product use and design as the goal areas in which to focus their Scope 3 climate efforts. Participating suppliers are encouraged to focus their commitment in one or more of these goal areas.
To help suppliers make commitments to emission reduction, or to establish emission reduction projects, Walmart collaborated with NGOs, like World Wildlife Fund (WWF) and Environmental Defense Fund (EDF), and additional like-minded organizations to create an emissions reduction toolkit. In this toolkit, Walmart highlights the business case for why suppliers should consider signing on to Project Gigaton.
"Supply chains are the new frontier of sustainability. The journey products take from source to shelf will collectively shape our planet’s future," WWF President and CEO Carter Roberts said in a statement. "Project Gigaton is a testament to the transformative impact that leaders of industry can have on our greatest common challenges. As more companies follow in the footsteps of Walmart and their suppliers, we can achieve the critical mass needed to address climate change. Today's commitment represents an important step toward a safer and more prosperous future."
“A challenge like Project Gigaton will catalyze leadership and innovative solutions around the globe,” EDF President Fred Krupp said in a statement. “Forward-looking companies like Walmart, and the suppliers that will join them, know that our economy and our planet can—and must—thrive together. Consumers deserve both, and these businesses are leading the way. EDF looks forward to helping them along this journey.”
“Through the years, we’ve seen that integrating sustainable practices into our operations improves business performance, spurs technological innovation, inspires brand loyalty, and boosts employee engagement,” said Laura Phillips, senior vice president, Sustainability for Walmart. “Our suppliers recognize the opportunity to realize those same benefits in their businesses. By working together on such an ambitious goal, we can accelerate progress within our respective companies and deep in our shared supply chains.”
Several Walmart suppliers have committed existing emissions-reduction projects to Project Gigaton. Colgate-Palmolive Co. committed to reduce absolute Scope 1 and 2 greenhouse gas emissions from manufacturing by 25 percent from 2002 to 2020, with a longer term goal of a 50 percent reduction by 2050. It also committed to reduce its most significant Scope 3 greenhouse gas emissions, to promote water conservation awareness to 100 percent of its global consumers and reduce emissions associated with consumer behavior by up to 5 percent from 2016 to 2022, and increase the recycled content of our packaging to 50 percent by 2020.
In additional, Campbell’s, Ocean Spray, Henkel, Nestle Waters, Reckitt Benckiser, Church & Dwight Co Inc. and Unilever committed to join the How2Recycle label program.
Unilever, Dairy Farmers of America (DFA), General Mills, Kimberly-Clark and Land O’ Lakes also committed new emissions-reduction projects to Project Gigaton.
Notable milestones and progress from Walmart’s 2017 Global Responsibility Report include:
Increasing Economic Opportunity in Retail Supply Chains
- Supporting Economic Mobility in Retail for Walmart Associates and Beyond
- Enhancing associate opportunity: Walmart is addressing barriers that can impede career advancement for associates. In FY2017, Walmart completed a $2.7 billion investment in U.S. associates that included increases in training, education and higher wages.
- Accelerating frontline retail job mobility beyond Walmart: In addition to investing in its own associates, Walmart and the Walmart Foundation in 2015 launched the Retail Opportunity Initiative, a five-year, $100 million sector-wide effort aimed at strengthening the transferability of skills of the U.S. retail workforce and developing ways to make it easier for front-line workers to advance their careers. Through the end of FY2017, Walmart and the Walmart Foundation invested more than $59 million and collaborated with leading nonprofits, employers, government agencies and educational institutions such as the Chicago Cook Workforce Partnership, The League of Innovation and the Aspen Institute.
- Investing in American Jobs
- Supporting local, diverse and small businesses: In 2013, Walmart pledged to purchase $250 billion more in products supporting American jobs through 2023. To raise awareness for this initiative, Walmart hosted the U.S. Manufacturing Summit and Open Call for new U.S. made products in June 2016. Entrepreneurs from 40 states participated in 800 meetings at the event.
- Walmart, the Walmart Foundation and the U.S. Conference of Mayors launched a $10 million U.S. Manufacturing Innovation Fund in 2014. The fund supports innovative research into manufacturing processes. The FY2017 funding cycle marks the completion of the $10 million commitment; however, the projects continue to advance.
Enhancing the Sustainability of Operations and Our Value Chain
- Reducing Emissions, Energy Intensity and Waste In Operations
- Setting emissions reduction goals: Walmart is the first retailer with an approved science-based target emissions-reduction plan. The company aims to reduce its absolute Scope 1 and 2 emissions by 18 percent by 2025. The retailer will also work with its suppliers to reduce CO2e, or carbon dioxide equivalent, emissions from upstream and downstream Scope 3 sources by one billion tons (a gigaton) between 2015 and 2030.
- Continued advancement toward 100 percent renewable energy goal: Walmart aspires to eliminate reliance on fossil fuel-based energy sources by meeting its needs with 100 percent renewable energy. By 2025, Walmart aims to power 50 percent of its operations with renewable energy. At the end of FY2017, approximately 26 percent of Walmart’s electricity needs globally were supplied by renewable sources, including more than 460 onsite and offsite projects in operation or under development globally.
- Progress toward zero waste goal: By the end of FY2017, Walmart diverted from landfills 82 percent of materials previously considered waste from Walmart U.S., and 77 percent* from Walmart International. As a large global grocer, Walmart is also committed to reducing food waste within its own operations. Since 2005, Walmart stores, clubs and distribution centers have donated more than 3.3 billion pounds of food to organizations that distribute to those in need in the U.S., including more than 600 million pounds in FY2017.
- Improving Sustainability in Global Value Chains
- Working with our suppliers: Since 2014, suppliers have reported a 96 percent reduction of high priority chemicals by weight in Walmart U.S. stores. In FY2017, Walmart reached a goal set in 2012, of buying 70 percent of the company’s U.S. goods from suppliers that participate in the Sustainability Index, in categories where the Index is available.
Strengthening Local Communities
- Relieving Hunger
- Efforts to donate 4 billion meals: Walmart and the Walmart Foundation surpassed the halfway point in their goal to provide 4 billion meals over five years, by providing support for 2.4 billion meals to date since 2014. In FY2017, Walmart and the Walmart Foundation donated more than $50 million toward hunger relief.
- Strengthening the capacity of hunger relief programs: Walmart and the Walmart Foundation are helping organizations who are on the front lines of charitable food provision to improve their infrastructure, so they can increase access to charitable meals. In the U.S., Walmart stores and Sam’s Club locations teamed up with customers and participating suppliers to support Feeding America through the “Fight Hunger. Spark Change.” campaign, raising more than $17 million in funds in FY2017.
- Engaging associates to volunteer:
- Walmart associates around the world are dedicated to addressing hunger. In the U.S. alone, Walmart associates donated more than 110,000 hours toward hunger relief in FY2017.
- In FY2017, 73,000 full-and part-time associates volunteered more than 1.2 million hours generating more than $12 million in Walmart donations.
- Strengthening Disaster Response and Community Preparedness
- Increasing disaster relief and preparedness efforts: In FY2017, Walmart and the Walmart Foundation supported communities after 30 disasters. A total of $6.8 million in cash donations was given specifically for disaster preparedness and relief.