Wal-Mart Stores Inc.'s seventh annual global responsibility report, “So Many Opportunities to Make a Difference,” spotlights the mega-retailer’s main achievements in the areas of social and environmental responsibility, particularly during fiscal year 2014.
"We have made significant progress across the entire chain, and have exceeded several goals we put in place to reduce our environmental impact and strengthen the communities where we live and work," noted Kathleen McLaughlin, SVP of sustainability and president of the Walmart Foundation. "We take our responsibility to create innovative solutions to key environmental and social challenges seriously, and we believe this will provide opportunities for our communities, customers and associates. Doing business the right way is of the utmost importance, and you can expect to see Walmart continuing to lead in areas that are crucial for our customers, our planet and people worldwide."
Among the accomplishments cited by the report:
- Ramped Up Global Transition to Renewable Energy: In keeping with its goal of producing or procuring 7 billion kilowatt-hours of renewable energy by 2020, Walmart had more than 323 renewable-energy projects in operation or under development globally by the end of 2013, accounting for 32 percent of the target.
- Boosted Energy Efficiency: Walmart’s goal in this area is to reduce total energy intensity per square foot of all facilities by 20 percent by 2020; this year it expended 7 percent less energy per square foot at the end of 2013 versus 2010. This was accomplished by expanding its use of LED lighting and opening its first 100 percent LED supercenter in Ohio, which consumes 34 percent less energy than a conventional store.
- Surpassed Hunger Relief Goals: Since rolling out the "Fighting Hunger Together" initiative in 2010 to donate 1.1 billion pounds of food and $250 million in cash by 2015, Walmart and Sam's Club facilities have exceeded both goals a year earlier than projected.
- Empowering Women in Local Communities: The Global Woman's Economic Empowerment Initiative aims to source $20 billion from women-owned businesses for Walmart's U.S. business through 2016 and double sourcing from women-owned businesses for international markets by the end of 2016. The company has also pledged to train almost 1 million women on farms and in the workforce through 2016, and by the end of 2013 had contributed to the training of more than 283,000 women. Further, in September 2013, along with other corporate and nonprofit organizations, Walmart pledged to train 15,000 women business owners and source $1.5 billion from women-owned businesses outside the United States by 2018.
- Hiring U.S. Military Veterans: In May 2013, Walmart undertook to hire more than 100,000 honarably discharged veterans at its U.S. business over the next five years, many within their first 12 months off active duty. Within the first eight months of this commitment, the company had hired more than 32,000 veterans across its U.S. stores and clubs, distribution centers, and home office.
- Reducing Waste: With a goal of achieving zero waste to landfill in operations by 2025, Walmart currently diverts 81.66 percent of the materials that pass through its U.S. stores, clubs, distribution centers and other facilities, and total waste generated from U.S. operations has declined 3.3 percent, compared with the 2010 baseline.
- Investment in Producing More Food with Fewer Resources: In 2013, Walmart invested in programs and initiatives to sufficiently feed an ever-more populated planet with fewer resources, including optimizing fertilizer use across food commodities and phasing sustainably sourced palm oil into its private-brand products.
"A chief pillar of the Walmart business is working to continuously improve the sustainability of the products we sell," observed Walmart VP of Sustainability Manuel Gómez Peña. "Over the course of 2013, we continued to drive innovation and accelerated toward our goals, both in our operation and in our product supply chain. These strides continue to support Walmart's everyday low prices and help set sustainability standards for the retail industry."
Also during the past fiscal year, Walmart and the Walmart Foundation gave more than $1.3 billion of cash and in-kind contributions to such causes as hunger relief, providing healthier foods and advancing sustainability practices. This was the largest level of giving in the company’s history, with the overall increase in contributions exceeding the previous year’s total by more than $244 million. Global in-kind donations made up $1 billion of the total, while $316.3 million was given in cash worldwide.
Bentonville, Ark.-based Walmart operates 10,984 stores under 71 banners in 27 countries, and e-commerce websites in 10 countries, employing more than 2.2 million associates worldwide.