At this past week’s (November 4) Net Impact Conference, Walmart president and CEO Doug McMillon will have outlined a roadmap that will guide the company’s role in society on critical issues over the next several years, pointing to a “new era of trust and transparency.” The roadmap adds new detail to Walmart’s sustainability agenda and contains new commitments that reflect a wider recognition of the company’s impact on communities and the planet.
Among other things, Walmart is setting an aggressive goal 100% recyclable private brand packaging by 2025. As well as doubling sales of locally grown produce in the U.S.; expanding and enhancing sustainable sourcing to cover 20 key commodities, including bananas, coffee and tea; and implementing a new plan designed to achieve science-based targets for reducing greenhouse gas emissions.
Walmart is the first retailer with an emissions-reduction plan approved by the Science Based Targets Initiative, in alignment with the Paris Climate Agreement in December 2015. Under the approved plan, Walmart will use a combination of energy-efficiency measures, together with a commitment to source half of the company’s energy needs from renewable sources, to achieve an 18 percent emissions reduction in its own operations by 2025. Additionally, Walmart will work with suppliers to reduce emissions by 1 Gigaton by 2030, equivalent to taking more than 211 million passenger vehicles off of U.S. roads and highways for a year.
In his remarks, McMillon discussed company programs that will train hundreds of thousands of U.S. associates by the end of next year, providing them with skills needed to move from entry-level positions to jobs with more responsibility and higher pay, along with a new pledge to take a leadership role in promoting ethical recruitment and treatment of workers in the global retail supply chain.
Taken together, the initiatives are designed to make good on the Walmart’s goal of becoming the most trusted retailer, not just by delivering affordable goods and a time-saving shopping experience, but with trust-building transparency and actions.
“We want to make sure Walmart is a company that our associates and customers are proud of – and that we are always doing right by them and by the communities they live in,” McMillon said. “That’s really what these commitments are about. And that’s why we’re so passionate about them.”
The roadmap builds upon the three environmental sustainability goals Walmart set in 2005: to create zero waste in company operations, to operate with 100 percent renewable energy, and to sell products that sustain natural resources and the environment. Those aspirational goals have guided how Walmart engages on those vital issues and progress has been made toward them. The new roadmap builds on progress to date, but also broadens the company’s vision of its role in society.
The commitments shared includes:
- Power half of the company’s energy from renewable sources under a plan designed to achieve science-based emissions targets:Walmart is one of the largest private-sector investors in renewable energy, including solar and wind power. In 2015, 25 percent of Walmart’s operations were powered by renewable energy, a significant step towards the 2005 goal. Going forward, the company will source half of its energy needs from renewable sources by 2025, as part of a plan designed to achieve science-based targets for reducing greenhouse gas emissions. Walmart is the first retailer with an emissions-reduction plan approved by the Science Based Targets Initiative, in alignment with the Paris Climate Agreement. Under the recently approved plan, Walmart will use a combination of energy-efficiency measures, together with expanded use of renewable energy, to reduce emissions in its own operations by 18 percent by 2025. Additionally, Walmart will work with suppliers to reduce emissions by 1 Gigaton by 2030, equivalent to taking more than 211 million passenger vehicles off of U.S. roads and highways for a year.
- Achieve zero waste to landfill in key markets by 2025: Progress so far has been significant on the original goal. In 2015, 75 percent of Walmart’s global waste was diverted from landfills, helping to reduce costs to the business, customers, and society. Under the roadmap, the company will achieve zero waste to landfill from our own operations in key markets, including the U.S., U.K., Japan, and Canada by 2025. The commitment is designed to meet or exceed EPA zero waste guidelines. Walmart will also continue working to reduce landfill waste in all markets, moving as fast as infrastructure and best practices allow.
- Sell more sustainably produced products while maintaining the low prices customers expect:
- Packaging: Walmart pledges to work with suppliers to reduce product and packaging waste and preserve natural resources. Our goal by 2025 is for Walmart’s private brand packaging to be 100 percent recyclable.
- Affordable, safe and healthier: Walmart will double the sales of locally grown produce in the U.S. by 2025 and work with suppliers and its own private brand products to remove certified synthetic colors and artificial flavors in products where customers don’t expect to find them, as well as reduce sodium, added sugars and saturated fat where possible. Additionally, Walmart will expand and enhance sustainable sourcing to cover 20 key commodities, including bananas, grapes, coffee, and tea.
- Natural resources: Walmart is expanding sourcing of commodities produced with zero net deforestation. In partnership with governments, NGOs, and industry groups, Walmart has previously been working to source private-brand palm oil and beef from Brazil’s Amazon with zero net deforestation. Under the roadmap, Walmart will expand its work into additional critical commodities, including all Brazilian soy and private-brand pulp and paper.
McMillon also discussed the company’s $2.7 billion investment over the past two years in education, wages and training for associates in the U.S. and called for a broader industry push to ensure retailers are seen as employers of choice. “Today we are asking other retailers to join us in helping people live better,” he said. “Let’s use our collective power to create good jobs with good training that become good careers for all our associates.”
Walmart will work to achieve the following:
- Support the human dignity of workers in the retail supply chain:Walmart is to ensure ethical recruitment and treatment of workers globally. This is on top of Walmart’s work underway in four areas that present risk to the dignity and safety of workers: seafood; apparel; produce; and electronics.
- Be the place to go for an individual’s first job:Walmart will further its efforts to afford a good experience for the thousands of people who come to the retailer for their first job. Associates will be provided with workplace mobility — a good start, new skills and a clear path to grow and succeed — joining the Leadership Group for Responsible Recruitment, a collaboration of businesses and NGO partners working whether or not they remain with the company. To further these efforts, Walmart has recently signed on to the White House First Jobs Compact, a nationwide effort to help connect out-of-school, out-of- work youth to their first jobs.
- Provide a clear path for career advancement: By 2025, Walmart U.S. will put millions of associates through focused training programs to equip them with skills to improve career growth, from entry level positions to jobs with more responsibility and higher pay. The retailer’s Pathways program provides training in core skills for entry-level associates and rewards them with a pay increase upon completion. The Academy training program – for supervisory associates – is expected to graduate 250,000 people alone by the end of 2017. As part of this commitment, Walmart strives to be a destination employer for young people and returning service members.
- Predictability, stability and pay:Walmart is committed to improving predictability in the lives of its associates by providing work schedules more than two weeks in advance in the U.S.; as well as implementing a strong leave policy that empowers associates to decide how to use their paid time off based on individual needs. Walmart also believes in equal pay for equal work. Associates with the same qualifications, performing the same jobs and making the same effort to achieve the same results, should receive the same pay.
- Improve the lives of people in communities:Walmart will source more products locally around the world, including $250 billion in products supporting American jobs by 2023 and $20 billion in products from women-owned businesses in the U.S. by the end of this year. The retailer also committed to donating 4 billion meals to fight hunger by 2020 and, over five years, to contributing $25 million towards disaster relief and resiliency around the world.