Walmart Turns Up Volume on Sustainable Agriculture
Late last week, Walmart added another plank to its sustainability push by announcing new goals to source its food products more sustainably. Lately I’ve written about a number of niche green consumer products companies like Seventh Generation and Dr. Bronner’s but it’s also important to keep an eye on what the big guys are doing, precisely because their footprint is so large, the opportunities for them to reduce their impacts are also huge.
Among other promises, Walmart pledges to sustainably source all the palm oil that it uses in its private label brands by 2015. This is the same promise made by Unilever, the UK-based consumer goods and food manufacturer which is the largest buyer of palm oil in the world. Sustainable palm oil is grown on land that does not require clear cutting tropical rainforests. For Walmart’s part, not cutting down the rain forest for palm oil in its U.S. and U.K. products alone will save the company 5 million metric tons of CO2 emissions by 2015, according to a press release.
Other stated goals for the mega-merchant include selling $1 billion in food sourced from 1 million small and medium farmers, upping the amount of organic product sold in China, doubling the amount of local produce it buys, and — as part of it’s overall sustainbility program — requiring ag product suppliers to report on the water, energy, fertilizer and pesticide they use per unit of food produced.
C&EN recently reported about Walmart’s new plan to use thin-film CIGS and CdTe solar cells as part of its rooftop program.