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Planet-saving progress detailed in sustainability report

Walmart is out with its 2011 Global Responsibility Report, and it is a beast of a document at 106 pages. A lot of those pages contain pretty pictures, such as the cover which shows a young girl in a grassy field pointing skyward to Walmart’s Spark logo, but there is plenty of substance too. The document is also broader in scope than prior iterations, which had a tighter focus on sustainability.

In an introductory message from Walmart president and CEO Mike Duke, he said the name change “reflects the new social and environmental dimensions we have added to our efforts, as well as new data and metrics to track and measure our progress.”

In addition, Duke noted that, “We do not view our sustainability work as a philanthropic add-on to what we do, but as a core part of who we are. We are pleased that the global conversation around sustainability is moving toward this point of view, and when we hear people talk about ‘responsible consumption’ and about creating ‘shared value’ for both business and society, we feel like we have been pioneers at Walmart. It is our goal to continue to lead in both the difference we make and how we make that difference.”

As for differences made, Walmart disclosed that it has improved the efficiency of its private fleet by 65% and reduced greenhouse gas emissions by 10.61% compared with 2005. The company also reduced plastic bag waste by nearly 48 million pounds or the equivalent of 3.5 billion bags globally.

In keeping with the spirit of increased transparency in this year’s report, Walmart included a section called “goals not met,” where it disclosed way it fell short on some objectives. For example, the company said it didn’t meet goal relating to the traceability of silver and diamonds, the elimination of PVC from private brand packaging and selling only Energy Star compliant air conditioners.

However, the bulk of the report is devoted to previously articulated major goals and what really are some pretty amazing accomplishments against three priorities of being supplied 100% by renewable energy, creating zero waste and selling products that sustain people and the environment.

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