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Q.No.1 Discusses green consumerism with respect to Wal-Mart?

The case outlines the

various environmental and other controversies that have had a negative impact on the
retailer's sales .As a HRM manger give the solution?

As a corporation, Walmart’s focus on efficiency across all organizational functions nets a

purchasing option within the retail marketplace that attracts consumers who are interested in
realizing price-point savings among a wide range of products and services. Its status within the
retail sector, the world’s largest retailer, enables it to shape – or even to direct – consumer
demand and to orchestrate both the practices and the processes within the marketplace as a
whole. Walmart’s success as a retailer establishes it as a benchmark for the application of free
market principles and positions it to become the paragon of green capitalism envisioned by
Hawken and others (Lovins, Lovins, & Hawkin,1999). However, metrics of corporate growth –
not of capital development – betray the aspirations of a green economy and belie the singular,
‘efficient’ approach to sustainable development conceived by proponents of ‘green
In 2010, Walmart and its international brands reported $418 billion dollars in sales across 8970
retail units occupying 985 million square feet (91.5 km2) of retail space (Walmart, 2011). Placed
in a global context, it is not only the largest retailer, but it also lays claim to the largest sales
revenue of all public companies across all sectors. Outpacing oil, media and financial services
companies, its revenue for fiscal year 2010 also exceeded the 2010 GDP of several countries,
including Belgium ($394.3 Billion), Sweden ($354.7 billion) and the Philippines ($351.4
billion). In gross floor space, its retail operations occupy greater surface area than the land, sea
and water within the boundaries claimed by many small countries, including Bermuda (54 km2),
San Marino (61 km2) and Anguilla (91 km2) (Forbes, 2011; Central Intelligence Agency).

Walmart’s core business ethic is to ‘save people money so they can live better’ (Walmart 2011).
Included within its principles of ‘living better’ are: a duty to social and environmental values that
enable ‘responsible consumption’; the creation of shared standards for business practice; and the
establishment of unified social constructions – such as health care, wage parity and access to
education – to facilitate equality of opportunity (Walmart, 2011). Although the three pillars of
sustainable development are firmly rooted in its approach they are definitively imbalanced; there
is a clear preference for a foundation of financial and social opportunity than for environmental

Sustainability 360, an initiative to define the corporation’s commitment to sustainable

development as a core part of its business model, was tabled in 2005. It established three long-
term goals: to operate its facilities on 100 percent renewable energy; to create zero waste; and to
sell products that sustain people and the environment (Walmart, 2011). These are broadly
defined objectives that do not have hard delivery dates; they are goals of progression within the
company’s evolving technological and operational constraints. To track its progress, Walmart
has established a subset of targets within each area that are expected to move the corporation
toward its commitments. Incremental programs are not directed at achieving universal
efficiencies but aim to realize regional improvements within specific operational units. Its
2011 Global Responsibility Report records progress across all three targets: energy consumption,
waste reduction and sustaining products.
Goal #1: Reduction in Non-Renewable Energy Consumption:
Current energy programs target three specific metrics: a 100% increase in the efficiency
of the U.S. fleet by 2015; a 20% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions across global retail and
distribution centers by 2012; and, by the same year, a 20% reduction in energy consumption per
unit of production from 200 of the factories most frequently sourced directly by Walmart in
China. Goals focussed on U.S. and global markets baseline 2005 values; Chinese targets baseline
2007 figures. By 2009, fleet operations within the United States achieved a 25% increase in
efficiency while existing retail stores in China and new retailers in Canada recorded reductions in
energy use of up to 30 percent. By 2010, compared to 2005 baselines, Walmart achieved a 65%
improvement in U.S. fleet efficiency, a 10.6% reduction in GHG emissions and, compared to
2007 figures, an improvement of 20% in energy efficiency in 119 of 200 of its direct-sourced
factories in China.
Goal #2: Reduction in the Generation of Waste:
Walmart’s waste reduction goals encompass water use and solid waste, including food.
Among these targets are: the elimination of all landfill waste from U.S.-based retail units by
2025; a 20% reduction in water use in Mexican retail units by 2013 (2009 baseline value); a 15%
reduction in food waste in emerging markets and a 10% reduction in other markets by 2015
(2009 baseline); and an average reduction of 33% (by weight) in plastic shopping bag waste per
store – global operations – by 2013 (2007 baseline value). With some qualification, Walmart has
made progress across an aggregation of waste streams. Overall, by 2010, the corporation tracked
138 streams of waste and achieved waste reduction rates equivalent to approximately 80% of the
target values.
Goal #3: To Sell Products that Sustain People and the Environment:
Defined by twenty specific short-term goals, this is the most robust category of
Walmart’s sustainability plan. Of these, fifteen objectives are to be achieved within the global
marketplace; the remainder are targeted for the U.S. (4) and other (1) markets. Among the goals
in this category are: to sell to the U.S. market only fresh, frozen, farmed or wild seafood that has
been certified by the Marine Steward Council, or equivalent third-party organizations (no date
provided); to mandate that by 2012 all direct import suppliers source 95% of their global
production from factories that meet Walmart’s highest standards of social or environmental
performance (it is not required to meet both); to reduce its global supply chain GHG emissions
by 20 million metric tons by 2015; to work with NGOs, government agencies, academic
institutions, suppliers, retailers and food service companies to develop an index of sustainable
products (no date provided); to double the sale of locally-sourced produce in the United States to
achieve a locally-sourced sales volume of 9% of all produce sold by Walmart in that market by
2015; to raise the income of small- and medium-sized farmers directly supplying Walmart’s
emerging markets by 10% to 15% by 2015; to require all private brand products sourcing palm
oil to incorporate only sustainably-sourced palm oil by 2015; and to increase the sale of products
that improve residential energy efficiency by 100% by 2011. Progress to date on this set of
objectives is varied and not all objectives are quantifiable. Within the subset listed here, the
corporation has achieved measurable results in three areas to date: 73% of all seafood in its U.S.
market is independently certified; 94% of direct import factories meet at least one of Walmart’s
highest audit ratings; and sales of caulking, weather stripping, air filters, programmable
thermostats, power bars and other products that improve residential energy efficiency increased
by approximately 28%.
A critical review of Walmart’s goals and metrics highlight the disparity between its aspirations to
enact universal principles, defined without qualification, and its targets that are both regional and
qualified. While it is acknowledged that there are significant variations in standards and practices
across both national and international markets, and that an immediate and wholesale transition to
an holistic model of sustainable consumption is neither realistic nor practical, there is a clear lack
of vision and innovation in Walmart’s approach. The Brundtland definition of sustainable
development – ‘to meet the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future
generations to meet their own needs’ – requires more than intensity efficiencies and objectives
that consider definitions of ‘capital’ founded only on an economy of manufacturing (WCED,
1987; Costanza & Daly, 1992). As noted in Natural Capital and Sustainable Development,
concepts of growth are, at their root, not sustainable; our economies require a distinction between
development – an ‘improvement in organization without size change’ – and growth – ‘material
increase in size’ (Costanza & Daly, 1992). Growth is Walmart’s explicit and unimagined focus.
Its global financial weight and its position within the retail sector are a direct consequence of its
former business model. Its status in the marketplace, however, also affords it a unique
opportunity to impel change without diplomacy or legislation. While the objectives within its
current business model are not without merit they fail to address what Folke, Holling & Perrings
(1996) require of sustainable development: incentives to redirect the social and economic
artifacts that are forcing the loss of functional diversity. ‘Sustainability 360’ imagines a new
equilibrium state without the resilience necessary for true sustainability. It envisions an insulated
retail space that is powered by renewable energy and produces zero waste within its own
operations but that requires a continually expanding consumer base that purchases more and
more products. According to McDonough (1993) this approach is ‘designing for the machine and
not for people’. A close reading of Walmart’s 2011 Carbon Disclosure Project report supports
this position and reveals that actions to reduce GHG emissions are practical initiatives to mitigate
political and financial risk, not to capitalize on ethical opportunities. In fact, Walmart’s absolute
emissions of GHGs increased by 35% from 2009, its last reporting period, due to increases in
electricity consumption and refrigerant usage that are, in part, a result of facilities expansion
(CDP, 2011).
There are several opportunities immediately available to Walmart that would provide
possibilities for development above conditions for growth. A truly sustainable business model,
for example, would not simply re-direct the waste stream from the corporation to the consumer
but would reduce the total amount of waste in our systems of ecology. Where its policies require
suppliers to adhere to environmental and/or social standards, a more sustainable approach would
require closer scrutiny of policy implementation and the closed systems of inputs and outputs
advocated for by McDonough and others (International Labour Rights Forum; McDonough,
1993). Walmart’s failure to acknowledge its true effect on local businesses, local economies and
strategies for urbanization and land development within its concept of sustainability encourages
urban sprawl, unsustainable modes of transportation and, paralleling the ideas of resilience
discussed by Folke, Holling & Perrings (1996), a loss of diversity not only in our natural systems
but also in the marketplace.


Carbon Disclosure Project (CDP). (2011). Information Request: Wal-Mart Stores. Accessed
October 26, 2011 from https://www.cdproject.net/en-US/Results/Pages/responses.aspx
Costanza, R., & Daly, H. (1992). Natural Capital and Sustainable Development. Conservation
Biology 6(1), 37-46.

Central Intelligence Agency (CIA). (n.d.). The world factbook: Country comparison. Retrieved
from https://www.cia.gov/library/publications/the-world-
Folke, C., Holling, C., & Perrings, C. (1996). Biological diversity, ecosystems, and the human
scale. Ecological Applications 6(4), 1018-1024.

Forbes. (2011). The World’s Biggest Public Companies. Accessed October 25, 2011
from http://www.forbes.com/global2000/list/
International Labor Rights Forum. (n.d.) Creating a Sweatfree World: Wal-mart Campaign.
Retrieved from http://www.ilrf.org/creating-a-sweatfree-world/ethical-consumerism
Kates, R., Parris, T. & Leiserowitz, A. (2005). What is sustainable development? Goals,
indicators, values and practice. Environment, 47(3), 9-21.

Lovins, A., Lovins, L., & Hawken, P. (2009, May-June). A road map for natural capitalism.
Harvard Business Review, 145-158.

McDonough, W. (1993). A centennial sermon: Design, ecology, ethics and the making of things.
Retrieved from http://www.mcdonough.com/Sermon.pdf
Walmart. (2011). Building the next generation Walmart…responsibly: 2011 Global
Responsibility Report. Retrieved from http://walmartstores.com/sites/responsibilityreport/2011/
World Commission on Environment and Development (WCED). (1987). Our Common Future.
New York: Oxford University Press.