Wednesday, April 26, 2006

Wal-Mart, Red, White, & Blue, & Green?

The Grist Magazine interviews H. Lee Scott, the CEO behind Wal-mart.

For many enviros, the name "Wal-Mart" has always triggered a shudder. The world's biggest retailer has been charged with exacerbating suburban sprawl, burning massive quantities of oil via its 10,000-mile supply chain, producing mountains of packaging waste, polluting waterways with runoff from its
construction sites, and encouraging gratuitous consumption. (And those are just the environmental complaints.)But it's precisely Wal-Mart's size and reach that could make it a powerful force for good for the planet, say market observers and a growing number of activists. The company controls so much of the retail market, and has such sway over manufacturers, that any green initiatives on its part have huge ripple effects. And it's certainly CEO H. Lee Scott's intention to make waves.

In October, Scott announced a preposterously ambitious goal to
transform Wal-Mart into a company that runs on 100 percent renewable energy and produces zero waste. Since then, he has impressed greens with specific commitments to cut the corporation's greenhouse-gas emissions by 20 percent over
the next seven years, double the fuel efficiency of its truck fleet within 10 years, reduce solid waste from U.S. stores by 25 percent in the next three years, and double offerings of organic foods this spring, selling them at prices more affordable to the masses.

Is Wal-Mart engaging in a huge environmental wave of good marketing or are they serious? What could the impact be? Read Amanda Griscom Little's interview with the corporate giant.

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