retail news in context, analysis with attitude

Bloomberg writes that the the Institute for Local Self-Reliance has issued a report saying that Walmart is not living up to pledges made after Hurricane Katrina to "rely fully on renewable energy and sell products that sustain the environment."

Eight years later, the report says, Walmart's "greenhouse-gas emissions are rising, and its share of renewable energy, measured as a percent of power it uses, lags behind rivals such as Kohl's Corp. and Best Buy."

"Rather than allocate resources to reduce emissions, Wal-Mart has launched a publicity campaign that boasts of solar installations while green-washing the true environmental costs of its business model,” said Stacy Mitchell, a senior researcher at the Institute and author of the report.

The story continues: "Mitchell and environmental allies say the company is falling short of its pledge to use all renewable energy, with just 4 percent of its power coming from renewable sources it operates. Another 17 percent of renewable energy is supplied by the grid. As it continues to grow, Wal-Mart has continued to generate more total emissions. Since 2005, Wal-Mart’s greenhouse gas emissions rose 11 percent, reaching 21 million metric tons per year, according to company data."

Walmart spokesman Tara Raddohl responded: "The results speak for themselves -- we’re showing that we can grow our business while slowing our greenhouse gas emissions, improve the supply chain, make renewable energy more affordable and serve our customers for generations to come."

Walmart says that it has met "a goal of cutting greenhouse gases by 20 percent at its existing stores, and has increased the mileage efficiency of its fleet of trucks, the company said. It predicts that it will begin reducing its overall emissions by 2020, even as it grows the number and size of its stores."
KC's View:
I suspect that the truth may be somewhere in the middle … that Walmart has not achieved the kind of sustainable purity that the Institute would like, but that it is doing better than many companies even while dealing with a much bigger infrastructure. But I think the bigger problem for Walmart is an increasing perception that it is playing the image game … that its first goal is to shine up its image, with actually addressing issues somewhat lower on the priority list.