Posted by: shoji | October 26, 2007

Wal-Mart saving green by being green

Haters will criticize Wal-Mart no matter what it does. That’s politics and ideology.

But bottom line is that Wal-Mart’s saving money from their green-tech initiatives. Is the means or ends more important? (i.e., should a company strive to-be eco-friendly because it’s the right thing to do, or can a company strive to-be eco-friendly because it’ll improve their profits?)

I’m agnostic to means vs. ends regarding companies– I think companies exist to make money for their shareholders. Hopefully, enlightened policy/regulation (it’s not an oxymoron, but it may seem to be) will guide companies’ choices to make the world livable.

For examples: moving to unleaded fuel; unleaded paint for that matter; reduce sulfur emissions (acid rain is not the fearsome environmental catastrophe as vast improvements have been made); etc.

Wal-Mart, because of its size and influence (shall we say strangle hold?) on its suppliers, makes for a potent ally in helping the environment. Here’s to the bottom line.

Wal-Mart & Microsoft’s new cleantech deals | Cleantech.com
Wal-Mart’s sustainability strides are impressive. As quoted by Waddoups at the conference, Wal-Mart has:

Achieved 15% in two years of its 25% in three years efficiency improvement in its 6,500 truck fleet in the U.S., mostly by adding auxillary power units (APUs) to cut down on truck idle time
Saved $2.6M a year by installing low-heat LED lighting in its freezers, and 35M pounds of CO2 a year
Saved $10M a year by recycling cardboard and plastic. The company today said it is on target to actually make the 100M tonnes of solid waste it generates every week into a profit center, beginning this year
Helped suppliers reduce their energy costs, which it says lowers the prices it pays for goods, which it then passes to customers—WalMart says it helped underwear maker Dana Undies save 52 percent a year on its electricity [ed. never thought we’d get a chance to write undies in a story.]
Saved $1M a year on energy costs by removing the light bulbs from employee coke machines in the back rooms

That’s not to say all the initiatives Wal-Mart has tried to date have been successful. Wal-Mart’s Waddoups acknowledged that, at two trial stores in the U.S., “the wind turbine we chose didn’t work. It’s broken all the time.”

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Responses

  1. Companies will always try to maximise their profits before all else, as you say they exist to do that. If at the same time they help the environment – so much the better! I think more and more companies are seeing that taking on board environmental issues can win them more custom as well as in many cases directly increasing their profit margin. Good post.


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