Wal-Mart Plans to Reduce Supply Chain Emissions

Posted on 02/26/2010 at 12:00 AM by Christa Hartsook

Wal-Mart Stores, Inc., announced a new initiative to cut 20 million metric tons of greenhouse gas emissions from the retailer’s global supply chain over the next five years.

The world’s biggest retailer is partnering with the Environmental Defense Fund to work with Wal-Mart suppliers on identifying ways to reduce pollution and energy costs, according to a joint statement.

Wal-Mart’s global supply chain carbon footprint is “many times” larger than its operational footprint and “represents a more impactful opportunity to reduce emissions,” Wal-Mart said in the statement. According to Wal-Mart, the reduction target would be the equivalent of taking 3.8 million cars off the road for a year.

Meat processors and fresh fruit and vegetable growers are among hundreds of Wal-Mart suppliers, and what steps they may take as part of the new effort isn’t yet clear. Wal-Mart has already been buying more fresh produce from local growers in recent years, lowering transportation costs.

Emission-reducing efforts will focus on product categories “with the highest embedded carbon,” the statement said, without listing any specific categories. Wal-Mart wants suppliers to curb emissions from raw materials sourcing, manufacturing, transportation, customer use or “end-of-life” disposal.