Walmart continues to impress us with its sustainable initiatives–just take a look at our slideshow listing 11 ways that the company is changing retail for good. The retail behemoth’s latest innovation is a big one: a plan to cut 20 million metric tons of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions from its global supply chain by the end of 2015.
It won’t be an easy task. Walmart has over 100,000 suppliers with a combined footprint that is much larger than the company’s operational carbon footprint alone. That’s why Walmart is teaming up with the Environmental Defense Fund (EDF), one of the organizations behind the company’s Sustainability Index, to achieve the goal. EDF and Walmart will focus on three main components to cut emissions: selection (a focus on products with the highest life cycle amount of carbon emissions), action (products where greenhouse gases can be cut from sourcing of raw materials, manufacturing, transportation, customer use, or end-of-life disposal), and assessment (quality assurance reviews by ClearCarbon and PriceWaterhouseCoopers).
So how will Walmart’s carbon reduction plan work? The EDF gives us this example:
A couple of years ago, Walmart asked one of its DVD suppliers–20th Century Fox–to be a part of a pilot for our project. They made simple changes to make DVD packaging lighter, which cut energy use by 28% and reduced the lifecycle carbon emissions of DVDs sold to Walmart by about 25,000 tons. It had a big multiplier effect, too, because the lighter packages were also used on DVDs sold at other stores, and the change evolved from movies to video games and software too. Small change–big cumulative effect.
We’ll be watching to see how these supply chain requests shake up other industries that Walmart is involved in. But the end, Walmart’s plan will undoubtedly have the ripple effect of reducing carbon emissions at companies around the world. Because when Walmart tells you to do something, you listen–or risk losing major business.