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Home > By DEPARTMENTS > Leadership and Governance for Sustainability > Governance Boards and Advisory Boards

Sustainability Programs Reach Out to Suppliers

Wal-Mart's "Sustainability 360" project launches to reduce packaging and non-renewable energy in their supply chain.

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Corporate Benefits from Sustainable Business Practices

Corporations have many reasons for redoubling their efforts for sustainable business practices. They face less compliance risk. They could pay lower insurance rates in the face of climate change. They balance healthy workplaces with employee retention. And they strengthen bottom line profits by eliminating costs...and waste.

Wal-Mart Sustainability Strategy

One company that is taking a lead in improving sustainable practices in their global and local business procedures is Wal-Mart. With retail outlets that affect most local communities in this country and around the globe. With the largest transportation system in the retail world. With product packaging that fills landfills. And with stores that pulsate with electricity, Wal-Mart is facing the challenge of sustainability both from bottomline and social responsibility perspectives.

Supply Chain Strategies for Sustainable Practices

Wal-Mart is known for its close work with its supply chain. And they are taking that same hands-on approach to improving sustainability throughout their community of suppliers.

Lee Scott, President and CEO announced Wal-Mart's "Sustainability 360" project intended to make environmental concerns central to its business decisions.

Key elements of the plan are:

  • Implementation of "Global Innovation Projects" which challenges Wal-Mart associates and suppliers to remove non-renewable energy from the products the company sells.
  • Wal-Mart will create metrics and share best practices so suppliers can make produts that rely less on carbon-based energy.
  • Wal-Mart will work with suppliers to reduce packaging by five percent by 2013. This effort will be equal to removing 213,000 trucks from the road, saving 324,000 tons of coal and 67 million galloons of diesel fuel per year.
  • They will develop partnerships that help suppliers run more sustainable businesses and factories.
  • Food packaging goals include a reduction of 25%
  • Wal-Mart will promote sustainable practices when entering new markets.
  • They will make environmentally friendly products more affordable and available to customers ... while helping people save money and better their lives.
Scott acknowledged that the journey to a sustainable corporation is long and stressed that all businesses have a role to play. "We need to be sustainable companies and countries made up of people who live sustainable lives."

Sustainability Practices

Every industry has its own set of key metrics for sustainable business practices. Retailers look at energy use, waste reduction, and reducing shipping costs. Manufacturers look at energy reductions, waste reclamation, safety and global competition. Banks look at community stability and livability as well as client risk factors.

Sustainability is about good use of resources. In the past we had abundant resources -- clean water, clean air, lots of land and fertile ground. Today that is changing because of population growth and density and the mega-growth of industry around the world.

Sustainable use of resources is becoming more important month by month, not only for risk management associated with global climate change, but everyday budgeting and corporate fiduciary management and survival.

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