Sustainability News from Wal-Mart

October 18, 2010

Walmart has announced a series of new goals at a Global Sustainability Milestone Meeting in Bentonville, AR that are intended to overhaul the global food supply chain.

According to Greenbiz.com, a series of five-year goals for the company address everything from farm to table, focusing especially on farming and the food supply chain.

“When we think about our sustainability goals up to this point, it’s not an area we have addressed adequately,” said CEO Mike Duke, stating that only four of Walmart’s 39 sustainability goals address food. “But that’s changing, today,” he added.

The goals include supporting farmers and their communities, producing more food with less waste, and sustainably source key agriculture.

Walmart has made these commitments:

  • sell $1 billion in food sourced from 1 million small and medium farmers;
  • provide training to 1 million farmers and farm workers on areas including crop selection and sustainable farm practices;
  • increase the income of the small and medium farmers it sources from by 10 to 15 percent;
  • In the U.S., doubling its purchase of locally sourced produce, to reach 9 percent by 2015.

It is estimated 30 to 40 percent of the food grown around the world never reaches a table. Knowing this, the second set of Walmart’s sustainable agricultural goals addresses cutting the amount of food waste by 15 percent in Walmart stores in emerging markets and by 10 percent in the United States.

Walmart’s Sustainability Index aims to bring the same level of transparency and reporting that its manufacturing suppliers have to food producers as well. “We will do this through our Sustainability Index by asking our top growers for the first time to provide detailed information on their agricultural practices,” Mike Duke explained. “This will lead to more efficient use of water, pesticides and fertilizer, and ultimately, more sustainable practices.”

Leslie Dach, Walmart’s executive vice president of corporate affairs, spelled out what that will mean for large agricultural suppliers: “We’ll be asking growers to share information about their water, fertilizer and chemical use,” he said. “And as we’ve seen from our other work, this kind of transparency encourages efficiency, innovation and the optimization of resources.”


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Glenn Meyers

Writer, documentary producer, and director. Meyers is a contributor to CleanTechnica, and founder of Green Streets MediaTrain, a communications connection and eLearning hub. As an independent producer, he's been involved in the development, production and distribution of television and distance learning programs for both the education industry and corporate sector. He also is an avid gardener and loves sustainable innovation.

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