Walmart: Driving sustainable operations and global value chains
Multinational retail corporation - Walmart - shares its latest efforts to drive sustainability.
2015, saw hundreds of nations sign the Paris Agreement to undertake ambitious targets to combat climate change. As a result, organisations across the world such as Amazon and Etsy are setting greenhouse gas emissions targets to reduce global warming below two degrees celsius.
What are Walmart’s sustainability targets?
When it comes to sustainability, Walmart has three aspirational goals that it wants to implement across not only its operations, but its global value chain too. These three goals include:
Operate with 100% renewable energy
Sell products that sustain its resources and the environment
Over the last couple of years, Walmart Canada has been making implementation both internally and externally to improve its sustainability alongside its US counterpart that has been implementing, 120 electric car charging stations at its stores, committing to more sustainably sourced private coffee brands and agreeing to subscribe to 36 community solar gardens.
Walmart Canada’s implementations have included:
Adopting the launch of Reusable Bag Campaign
Providing a new wave of grants to fund reduced food waste
Phasing out paint removal products with Methylene Chloride and NMP
Late last week, Walmart US shared its recycling process to make its shopping cart production more sustainable. Currently, Unarco - a retail equipment company - has produced 3.4mn shopping carts for Walmart using its developed process of remanufacturing. Using its patented process, Unarco burns off the rust on the shopping carts, extending the life of the steel. In addition, the wheels and plastic is salvaged to be recycled to further reduce waste.
Key environmental saving figures as a result include:
485.3mn pounds of carbon emissions
3.6bn gallons of water
407mn kilowatts of electricity
“Recycling shopping carts has been the right thing to do from a sustainability perspective,” said Muriel McSweeny, senior sourcing manager for Walmart. “We are able to help keep the materials from heading to a landfill prematurely. We are also able to provide a savings to the stores because we aren’t having to pay steel costs. It’s all part of our mission to keep costs down and help customers save money.”
How innovation is transforming government
According to Washington Technology’s Top 100 list, Leidos is the largest IT provider to the government. But as Lieutenant General William J. Bender explains, “that barely scratches the surface” of the company’s portfolio and drive for innovation.
Bender, who spent three and a half decades in the military, including a stint as the U.S. Air Force’s Chief Information Officer (CIO), has seen action in the field and in technology during that time, and it runs in the family. Bender’s son is an F-16 instructor pilot. So it stands to reason Bender Senior intends to ensure a thriving technological base for the U.S. Air Force. “What we’re really doing here is transforming the federal government from the industrial age into the information age and doing it hand-in-hand with industry,” he says.
The significant changes that have taken place in the wider technology world are precisely the capabilities Leidos is trying to pilot the U.S. Air Force through. It boils down to developing cyberspace as a new domain of battle, globally connected and constantly challenged by the threat of cybersecurity attacks.
“We recognize the importance of the U.S. Air Force’s missions,” says Bender, “and making sure they achieve those missions. We sit side-by-side with the air combat command, intelligence surveillance, and reconnaissance infrastructure across the Air Force. There are multiple large programs where the Air Force is partnering with Leidos to ensure their mission is successfully accomplished 24/7/365. In this company, we’re all in on making sure there’s no drop in capability.”
That partnership relies on a shared understanding of delivering successful national security outcomes, really understanding the mission at hand, and Leidos’ long-standing relationship of over 50 years with the federal government.
To look at where technology is going, Bender thinks it is important to look back at the last 10 to 15 years. “What we’ve seen is a complete shift in how technology gets developed,” he says. “It used to be that the government invested aggressively in research and development, and some of those technologies, once they were launched in a military context, would find their way into the commercial space. That has shifted almost a hundred percent now, where the bulk of the research and development dollars and the development of tech-explicit technologies takes place in the commercial sector.”
“There’s a long-standing desire to adopt commercial technology into defense applications, but it’s had a hard time crossing the ‘valley of death’ [government slang for commercial technologies and partnerships that fail to effectively transition into government missions]. Increasingly we’re able to do that. We need to look at open architectures and open systems for a true plug-and-play capability. Instead of buying it now and trying to guess what it’s going to be used for 12 years from now, it should be evolving iteratively.”