A Green Wal-Mart? Wal-Mart embraces environmental sustainability
Rhett A. Butler, mongabay.com
February 8, 2006
While Wal-Mart is a favorite target for a broad spectrum of activist groups, the world's largest retailer has taken a number of steps in recent months to improve the environmental sustainability of its operations.
In 2005 Wal-Mart also opened two experimental "green" superstores in McKinney, Texas and Aurora, Colorado. The environmentally-friendly buildings are powered by renewable energy—including photovoltaic solar panels and wind turbines—to reduce carbon emissions and feature water-saving and pollution-reduction technologies.
|Polycrystalline photovoltaic laminates have been integrated into the Garden Center's canopy in the experimental McKinney, Texas store to help reduce the store's demand on the local electrical power grid. The Garden Center canopy is estimated to generate 14,585 kwh per year, which is enough electricity to power 486 single-family homes for one day and reduces greenhouse emissions by an estimated 22,100 pounds per year. Text and photo courtesy of WalMart Stores.|
MSC says that Conservation International and WWF will be working with Wal-Mart and their suppliers to make improvements in less well managed fisheries, including strengthening management practices, rebuilding stocks, reducing environmental impacts, and encouraging support for broader marine ecosystem management and protection efforts. As fisheries improve, Wal-Mart and suppliers will encourage them to participate in the MSC certification program.
While some may dismiss these developments as "greenwash", it seems more likely that Wal-Mart is looking at its bottom line in making these decisions. The notoriously cost-conscious firm probably recognizes that over the long-run it can save money by reducing energy consumption and waste, while at the same time minimizing the risk that the natural resources used in its products will be exhausted in the near future. It's a position that we're likely to increasingly see from other firms in the near-term.
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New York-based banking giant J.P. Morgan Chase & Co. joined the ranks of a select group of firms in the financial sector who have adopted environment policies with an increased focus on more ecologically responsible business practices. This move signals a larger trend and is indicative of the current state of the marketplace as well as that of the government
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Companies increasingly at risk for climate change litigation says UN
Companies which contribute to climate change will increasingly face legal action according to a U.N.-sponsored report accounced last week but scheduled for release in March 2006. London-based law firm Freshfields is working with Dutch bank ABN Amro to produce the U.N. report which aims to encourage investors to address environmental, social and governance issues in their investment decisions.
This article used information from press materials from Marine Stewardship Council and Wal-Mart.