Walmart Sustainability

And in its own category of general merchandise and

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Unformatted text preview: ndustry, a 2003 article pointed out: “[Walmart] sells in three months what number-two retailer Home Depot sells in a year. And in its own category of general merchandise and groceries, Walmart no longer has any real rivals. It does more business than Target, Sears, Kmart, J.C. Penney, Safeway, and Kroger combined.”11 Industry analysts attributed much of Walmart’s dominant retail position to an intense focus on discipline and efficiency in its supply chain. According to AMR Research, “We view Walmart as the best supply chain operator of all times…. Their [prices] can be far lower than other retailers’ because they have such an efficient supply chain. The company's cost of goods is 5 to Walmart’s Sustainability Strategy (A) OIT-71A p. 3 10 percent less than that of most of its competitors.”12 As its scale and purchasing power increased, the company developed a reputation for making its 60,000-plus suppliers more efficient, focused, leaner, and faster. However, it also garnered criticism for squeezing supplier margins, causing some companies to lay off U.S. employees or close domestic plants in favor of outsourcing production from overseas.13 Walmart also was entangled in controversy over its own employee wages, health care benefits, diversity, and the working conditions in its captive overseas factories. While Walmart’s environmental impact had not been as problematic as these other issues, “The company’s environmental record was nothing to boast about either,” said one Fortune article. “It had paid millions of dollars in fines to state and federal regulators for violating air and water pollution laws.”14 Walmart had huge environmental impacts simply because of the scale of its operations. For example, in its retail operations, Walmart was the biggest private user of electricity in the U.S.a and emitted more than 19.1 million metric tons of carbon dioxide annually15an amount equal to the pollution created by roughly 2.8 million households.b Taking into account the emissions of Walmart’s suppli...
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