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Home > By DEPARTMENTS > Green Manufacturing > Manufacturing Management > Supply Chain for Green Manufacturing

Wal-Mart Measures Supply Chain Greenhouse Gases

Wal-Mart undertakes measurement of their supply chain energy use and greenhouse gas impact...follow the saga.

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Wal-Mart's Supply Chain Initiative Grows Beyond Prototypes The following news story points out the complexity and high value of working with a company's supply chain to reduce energy use and greenhouse gas emissions. The job isn't easy. It requires cooperation. And it pays to start on "small items" to work out the kinks of the process. Then move on to the goliaths in one's footprint. And it pays to build momentum slowly as the science and team member capacity catches up with the plan.

Wal-Mart leaders are now educated about green processes and they are gaining skills, confidence and a good team in their babysteps. Each project seems to get bigger. That's a good thing. They certainly have a long road to travel and travel is getting more problematic! But they have the size to make a real difference across the globe.

As this article points out, Wal-Mart's impact is larger than a number of countries...combined. Their internal governance has scale and does set the standard for a large portion of the communities in which they operate -- those communities just happen to be dispersed: employees and their families, vendors and their employees and families, and customers and their families. When you add up all those numbers -- their governance matters.

I grew up in Springdale, Arkansas, the town-next-door to Wal-Mart's headquarters and I have watched this giant grow through infancy, the terrible-twos, playful childhood, exuberant sexy development of adolescence...and maybe now the very real people who are part of the Wal-Mart community are striving to reach responsible adulthood. Slow though this process is, maturation beats the alternative of being an eternally adolescent bully. Carolyn

Wal-Mart Measures Supply Chain Greenhouse Gases

Sept 25, 2007 - Wal-Mart says it plans to use the Carbon Disclosure Project's expertise to help set up a new supply chain energy monitoring program with its suppliers. They are working to measure their global supply chain footprint and to encourage suppliers to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

The program will measure the amount of energy used to manufacture and distribute products, and Wal-Mart will launch a pilot project with some of their suppliers to look for new ways to cut their energy use.

The effort will begin with suppliers in seven product categories: DVDs, toothpaste, soap, milk, beer, vacuum cleaners, and soda. These seven product categories wee selected in part because suppliers in those categories were willing to work with Wal-Mart and the CDP on the issue.

20 of Fox Home Entertainment's suppliers got involved to track the emissions associated with the production, manufacturing, and distribution of DVDs.

60,000 Suppliers in the Wal-Mart Supply Chain

If Wal-Mart leaders really push for change with this supply chain initiative, they have the scale, with $350 billion in annual sales and 60,000 suppliers, to make a real difference.

Once measurement is working, the question is what Wal-Mart will do with the information. Will they, people who make decisions in the Wal-Mart community, stop doing business with high-polluting companies, even if they provide the lowest-cost goods?

"It's too early to tell," says Jim Stanway, senior director of Wal-Mart's Global Supply Chain Initiatives, in an interview with MSNBC. "Significant amount of work has to be done before we reach that point where we have to decide carbon reduction standards for each category."

"We don't believe a person should have to choose between an environmentally friendly product and one they can afford to buy," he said. "We want our merchandise to be both affordable and sustainable."

For years Wal-Mart has refused to collect greenhouse gas emissions data. Last year that changed. The company began to ratchet up its green initiatives after being advised by the consulting company McKinsey & Co. that it would help Wal-Mart's image if it took a proactive stance and shaped the debate, "by becoming a role model on a significant societal issue."

Since then Wal-Mart has improved the fuel efficiency of its trucking fleet, reduced the packaging on foods, led the charge in selling more energy-efficient light bulbs, and decided to purchase its wild seafood only from fisheries that have been certified as sustainable by an independent nonprofit.

Wal-Mart has also unveiled Sustainability 360, setting a goal of one day using only renewable energy and creating zero waste, as well as challenging its suppliers, customers, and employees to do the same.

Environmenatalists' View of Wal-Mart Green Initiatives

Heather Rogers, author of Gone Tomorrow: The Hidden Life of Garbage, says that Wal-Mart's entire business model is built on environmental waste. The company, she says, sells loads of cheap, disposable goods, and emphasizes a business strategy of rapid growth, resulting in so much negative environmental impact that its latest initiatives can make only an incremental impact. "It's an aggressively growing company," she says, "and with this business model you're inevitably going to put ever greater pressure on ecosystems."

Wal-Mart certainly casts a long shadow. The company is the biggest private user of electricity in the U.S. — each of its 2,074 supercenters uses an average of 1.5 million kilowatts annually, enough by one estimate to power all of Namibia. It also has the nation's second-largest fleet of trucks that travel a billion miles a year.

By Wal-Mart's own admission, its U.S. operations were responsible for 15.3 million metric tons of carbon emissions in 2005.

"Wal-Mart hopes to cut 2.5 million metric tons of carbon dioxide emissions by 2013, by making its existing stores 20 percent more efficient," says Stacy Mitchell, a senior researcher at the Institute for Local Self-Reliance, an environmental group. "New stores built in 2007 alone, however, will consume enough electricity to add approximately 1 million metric tons of carbon dioxide to the atmosphere. At that rate, by 2013 Wal-Mart will be offsetting its cut of 2.5 million metric tons of carbon dioxide by adding 28 million metric tons of new emissions within the same time period."

SOURCE: Read the full story at MSNBC

Edited by Carolyn Allen, owner/editor of California Green Solutions
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