Texan by Nature is excited to recognize Walmart as a 2021 TxN 20 honoree for their leadership in conservation and sustainability. Walmart’s commitment to conservation, their projects, programs, best practices, and lessons learned are an example and inspiration for us all.
Honoree Industry and Size: Retail – Enterprise
Walmart Inc. (NYSE: WMT) helps people around the world save money and live better – anytime and anywhere – in retail stores, online, and through their mobile devices. Each week, approximately 220 million customers and members visit approximately 10,500 stores and clubs under 48 banners in 24 countries and eCommerce websites. With fiscal year 2021 revenue of $559 billion, Walmart employs over 2 million associates worldwide. Walmart continues to be a leader in sustainability, corporate philanthropy, and employment opportunities.
What is Walmart’s conservation and sustainability mission and why is it important to your culture?
For more than 15 years, Walmart has been collaborating with others to drive positive impact across global supply chains. Our sustainability efforts prioritize people and the planet by aiming to source responsibly, eliminate waste and emissions, sell sustainable products, and protect and restore nature.
We understand that for a business to last, it must have a fundamental reason for being – which is found in the value it creates not only for shareholders, but for the world. That’s why we have committed to becoming a regenerative company dedicated to placing nature and humanity at the center of our business practices.
How is conservation and sustainability a part of Walmart’s business strategy?
Exceptional environmental, social, and governance (ESG) practices go hand-in-hand with financial value creation by enhancing customer trust, securing future supply, catalyzing new product lines, increasing productivity, and reducing costs.
Shared value—addressing societal issues in ways that create value for our business and stakeholders—lies at the heart of Walmart’s enterprise strategy and our approach to ESG issues, including sustainability. We strive to find the intersection between social and environmental issues and the products, services, and operating model of our business, and then derive the benefits that are both meaningful and economical. That intersection is not always easy to find but critical to address environmental or social issues through effective and economical business practices.
We make these practices central to what we do every day. For example, when it comes to climate change mitigation, efficiency savings have been a real driver. Our investments in energy efficiency, fleet efficiency, and renewable energy are critical to our climate targets but also generate a significant return on investment for our operations.
What are Walmart’s short and long-term goals as they relate to conservation and sustainability?
Walmart’s climate change mitigation strategy includes our efforts, aligned with the Science Based Targets initiative (SBTi), to eliminate emissions in our operations (scopes 1 and 2) by 2040 and aim to avoid one billion metric tons (a gigaton) of greenhouse gases in the global value chain (scope 3) by 2030 by inviting suppliers to set targets and take action through Project Gigaton.
Building upon years of work promoting the sustainable production of important commodities, Walmart and the Walmart Foundation committed in 2020 to help protect, manage or restore at least 50 million acres of land and 1 million square miles of ocean by 2030. We seek to achieve these goals by:
Walmart aims to achieve zero waste to landfill and incineration in our operations in U.S., Canada, Mexico, markets by 2025.
We believe it is the responsibility of business to respect human rights, and we aspire to use our capabilities and influence to bring about positive change at scale. To promote human dignity, we’ve set an aspiration to help make responsible recruitment standard business practice by 2026. To do so, we are working with other businesses, suppliers, governments and members of civil society to confront root causes of forced labor and trafficking. Through our business and philanthropic efforts, we have focused on:
Learn more about Walmart’s Sustainability goals here.
Who at Walmart is leading your conservation and sustainability efforts and what are some examples of employee engagement in conservation and sustainability at your company?
Our leadership on sustainability starts with Walmart President and Chief Executive Officer (CEO), Doug McMillon, who set a goal in 2020 for Walmart to become a regenerative company – one that restores, renews and replenishes. Leadership of ESG issues starts with our CEO — with oversight from committees of our Board of Directors — and cascades across our enterprise. Walmart’s Chief Sustainability Officer (CSO), Kathleen McLaughlin, helps define the ESG agenda and provides dedicated management and oversight of Walmart’s global ESG initiatives and goals. The CSO reports to our Executive Vice President, Corporate Affairs, Dan Bartlett, and provides updates on our ESG agenda and progress to the Nominating and Governance Committee of the Walmart Board and to the Walmart executive leadership team. Board committees also have oversight responsibility for particular ESG issues. Jane Ewing, Senior Vice President, Sustainability, leads Walmart’s sustainability team. The Walmart corporate sustainability team leads the development of the company’s climate strategy, working with a cross-functional team including finance, real estate, operations, merchandising, strategy, and public policy. Walmart and the Walmart Foundation complement Walmart’s sustainability initiatives with philanthropy that aims to advance sustainability of supply chains through promotion of and support for social and environmental sustainability efforts.
Our associates are passionate about many causes, and we support them by donating to nonprofits in honor of their service through Volunteerism Always Pays (VAP). In FY2021, more than 12,000 U.S. associates volunteered 278,000 hours through the program, generating more than $2 million in Walmart donations.
Praise for Walmart’s 2020 Nature Commitment:
“The choices we make today will fundamentally determine our long-term resilience to the biodiversity and climate crises, which is why we must rapidly scale up the protection and restoration of nature in the next few years. Walmart’s investments in our lands and oceans are a significant milestone for these efforts – and a testament to the fact that investing in nature benefits both businesses and local communities. Conservation International is proud to have partnered with Walmart on the science behind this commitment, and we look forward to turning today’s announcement into real impacts for people and the planet.”
What conservation and sustainability programs and projects does Walmart lead and participate in?
Because most emissions in the retail sector lie in product supply chains (scope 3) rather than in stores and distribution centers (scopes 1 and 2), we launched Project Gigaton™ to engage suppliers, non-governmental organizations (NGOs), and other stakeholders in climate action. Project Gigaton™ aims to avoid one billion metric tons (a gigaton) of greenhouse gases in Walmart’s global value chain by 2030 by inviting suppliers to set targets and take action across the program’s pillars: energy, waste, packaging, nature, transportation and product use and design changes.
As part of our goal to help protect, manage or restore at least 50 million acres of land and one million square miles of ocean by 2030, we aim to conserve one acre of land for every acre developed by Walmart U.S. stores.
As part of the Beyond the Bag Initiative, we’re identifying, testing, and implementing innovative design solutions to the single-use plastic retail bag. In addition, more than 72% of our stores in Mexico have stopped offering plastic bags and we have launched several in-store pilots and tests of new design solutions to combat plastic waste.
After five years working with the Midwest Row Crop Collaborative (MRCC), we recently announced 2030 goals aimed at driving a regenerative agriculture system, including:
How do you see the future of conservation and sustainability evolving, and what role will Walmart play in that progress?
It is no longer enough to “slow down” climate change and protect what we have. Society must bend the curve on emissions and restore nature and that means shifting from protection and preservation to restoration and regeneration.
Walmart seeks to go beyond sustainability as it is understood and practiced today. In 2020, we raised our ambition for climate and nature, setting ourselves on a path toward becoming a regenerative company.
“Building on more than 15 years of our sustainability journey Walmart continues to raise our ambitions and place nature and humanity at the center of our business practices. The TxN 20 recognizes the critical role business plays in taking systemic and sustained action to protect and restore nature, and we’re thrilled to be among this year’s honorees.”
– Jane Ewing, Senior Vice President, Sustainability at Walmart.
How does Walmart quantify investment and return on conservation and sustainability?
Walmart believes a strong climate strategy contributes to business results by creating shared value for the business and stakeholders in several ways:
Our ESG reporting is guided by frameworks such as the Sustainability Accounting Standards Board (SASB), the Task Force on Climate-related Financial Disclosures (TCFD), Global Reporting Initiative (GRI) Standards and the United Nations (U.N.) Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). We also report through programs such as CDP, a global environmental disclosure system.
What is the one lesson that Walmart has learned from your conservation and sustainability efforts that others can take back and think about applying within their own space?
As the climate crisis intensifies, so does the situation regarding the degradation of critical natural ecosystems. As a retailer, many of the products our customers buy come from prairie, forests, and ocean ecosystems. Scientists tell us that nature can provide a third of the solution to climate change. In 2020, we set a goal – along with the Walmart Foundation – to help protect, manage or restore at least 50 million acres of land and one million square miles of ocean by 2030. Recognizing that we need to address these systemically, since then, we have been working on three types of efforts in support of these nature goals:
For example, we have engaged beef suppliers to improve grain sourcing and grazing management practices, which help store carbon in the soil and enhance habitats.
We have also invested in a grant (along with Cargill and McDonalds) to the World Wildlife Fund to engage cattle ranchers in restoration and conservation of Northern Great Plains ecosystems.
Why is Texas an important home or base of operations for Walmart?
Texas is a critical region for Walmart’s operations, with the company operating 593 retail units, including Supercenters, Neighborhood Markets, Distribution Centers and Sam’s Clubs. Our more than 170,000 associates in the state serve Texans in rural, suburban and urban markets. Their dedication as essential workers in hundreds of Texas communities during the pandemic, and beyond, embodied Walmart’s commitment to our customers and the communities we serve.
Additionally, Texas is home to more than 3,500 crucial suppliers that provide the products that our customers need every day. Walmart’s purchases of Texas suppliers’ products exceeded $76 billion in the last fiscal year. Moreover, the company donated $129 million in in-kind food and goods, and grants dedicated to state nonprofit organizations.
Learn more about Walmart’s conservation and sustainability efforts here.
Walmart employs 2.2 million associates worldwide. In FY2021, 12,000+ U.S. associates volunteered 278,000 hours, generating more than $2 million in Walmart donations.
Walmart’s efforts to double fleet efficiency saved over $1 billion and over 10 years 1.5 million LED lights across facilities saved more than $100 million.
Texas is home to more than 3,500 crucial suppliers – Walmart’s purchases of Texas suppliers’ products exceeded $76B in the last fiscal year. Additionally, Walmart donated $129M in in-kind food and goods, and grants dedicated to state nonprofit organizations.
Last year, 950M+ lbs of food waste was diverted globally from the waste stream through composting, animal feed, anaerobic digestion and biochemical processing. During 2020, Walmart recycled more than 375 million pounds of plastic film and rigid plastics globally, an increase of more than 12% from 2019
Additionally, in 2020 Walmart and the Walmart Foundation committed to help protect, manage or restore at least 50 million acres of land and 1 million square miles of ocean by 2030.
Since 2005, Walmart has conserved more than 1.6 million acres through the Walmart Acres for America program, administered by the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation.
~ 36% of Walmart’s global electricity needs were supplied by renewable sources in 2020.
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