Ten years ago, the CEO of Walmart and the president of Environmental Defense Fund hiked together on Mount Washington in New Hampshire. Along the way, Lee Scott of Walmart (now retired) and Fred Krupp of EDF talked about climate change and the environmental challenges of our time. They also talked about ways that Walmart could drive positive environmental change in its product lines and operations.
The hike turned out to be the start of a ten-year journey of collaboration between Walmart and EDF, one that has helped define a new model of corporate sustainability.
In a speech that year, Lee Scott laid out three aspirational goals:
“Our environmental goals at Walmart are simple and straightforward:
1. To be supplied 100 percent by renewable energy.
2. To create zero waste.
3. To sell products that sustain our resources and environment.
These goals are both ambitious and aspirational, and I’m not sure how to achieve them…..at least not yet. This obviously will take some time…”
Lee Scott, Oct. 23, 2005
Now, on the ten-year anniversary of the 21st Century Leadership speech, EDF is taking a moment to take stock of how far this journey has taken us and the distance left to travel.
First, what have we achieved? Here are three of our proudest accomplishments:
1. Today, Walmart is announcing that it will surpass its aggressive goal of reducing 20 MMT of greenhouse gas emissions from its supply chain. In total, Walmart will reduce 28 MMT of GHG from its supply chain by the end of 2015. To achieve this goal, Walmart tackled a diverse range of projects: from helping end consumers through improving products like LED light bulbs; to creating a Closed Loop Recycling fund, and changing food date labeling to reduce waste; and working with EDF to conserve fertilizer use on over 20 million acres of U.S. farmland.
Overall, the 20 MMT reduction of GHG from Walmart’s supply chain is the equivalent of getting almost six million cars off the road.
Yes, EDF pushed Walmart to set this goal; but we also worked side by side with them to achieve it. It is this type of long-term collaboration that drives results at scale, an achievement foreshadowed by EDF president Fred Krupp when he said, “When you can get big companies to do important things, you can change the world.”
2. In 2013, Walmart put a chemicals policy in place that is phasing out chemicals of concern in over 100,000 home and personal care products like laundry soap and shampoo. Private brand products now list all of their ingredients online so consumers have more transparency into what chemicals they are using in their home and on their bodies.
3. EDF and Walmart helped create the Sustainability Index, a tool powered by The Sustainability Consortium (TSC) that has evaluated billions of dollars of products on Walmart shelves. To date, 70% of Walmart suppliers have filled out the Index. Read more