The case for CSR/ Sustainability Reporting Done Responsibly


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Case study: How Walmart expands the use of clean energy at its stores

Operating more than 11,200 retail units under 55 banners in 27 countries around the globe and employing approximately 2.2 million associates worldwide – 1.5 million in the U.S. alone -, Walmart envisions a world where people will not have
 to choose between energy they can afford and renewable energy that is better for the planet.

This case study is based on the 2017 Global Responsibility Report by Walmart published on the Global Reporting Initiative Sustainability Disclosure Database that can be found at this link. Through all case studies we aim to demonstrate what CSR/ ESG/ sustainability reporting done responsibly means. Essentially, it means: a) identifying a company’s most important impacts on the environment, economy and society, and b) measuring, managing and changing.

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Abstract

Walmart has set a goal to power 50% of its operations with renewable energy by 2025  Tweet This!, through both onsite installations and purchases from external providers. In order to expand the use of clean energy at its stores Walmart took action to:
  • promote the use of solar energy
  • invest in energy storage
  • provide electric vehicle charging stations

What are the material issues the company has identified?

In its 2017 Global Responsibility Report Walmart identified a range of material issues, such as supporting small and local farmers, reducing emissions in operations, conserving land, supporting measurement and disclosure in the supply chain, investing in communities. Among these, expanding the use of clean energy at its stores stands out as a key material issue for Walmart.

Stakeholder engagement in accordance with the GRI Standards

The Global Reporting Initiative (GRI) defines the Principle of Stakeholder Inclusiveness when identifying material issues (or a company’s most important impacts) as follows:

“The reporting organization shall identify its stakeholders, and explain how it has responded to their reasonable expectations and interests.”

Stakeholders must be consulted in the process of identifying a company’s most important impacts and their reasonable expectations and interests must be taken into account. This is an important cornerstone for CSR / sustainability reporting done responsibly.

Key stakeholder groups Walmart engages with:

Stakeholder Group
Customers
Associates
Suppliers
Advisory councils
Community leaders
Grantees
NGOs
Government leaders
Investors

How stakeholder engagement was made to identify material issues

To identify and prioritise material topics Walmart engaged its stakeholders in dialogues, interviews, working sessions and surveys, including a 1,750-respondent survey conducted by Sustainalytics.

What actions were taken by Walmart to expand the use of clean energy at its stores?

In its 2017 Global Responsibility Report Walmart reports that it took the following actions for expanding the use of clean energy at its stores:

  • Promoting the use of solar energy
  • By the end of FY2017, Walmart had 364 onsite solar installations in the U.S., and is committed to having at least 480 by 2020. In addition, in FY2017 Walmart India, seeking to expand the use of rooftop solar power to 90% of its buildings, commissioned photovoltaic (PV) solar rooftops for 15 Best Price stores through a power-purchase agreement with a leading renewable energy supplier. These new installations are expected to cover almost half of Walmart India’s electricity needs. Moreover, Walmart’s South African business, Massmart, has also been piloting commercially viable renewable energy projects, at select standalone stores.
  • Investing in energy storage
  • Walmart increasingly invests in energy storage and, in partnership with Tesla, a pioneer of advanced battery technologies, completed major energy storage projects in 18 of its stores in California, which included the installation of mega-batteries linked to onsite solar installations. Six of these energy storage systems have also been designed to provide backup power, in the event of a utility grid power outage.
  • Providing electric vehicle charging stations
  • Walmart had, by the end of FY2017, added electric vehicle charging stations to over 90 sites across the U.S., bringing its total to more than 300 stations. Almost 20% of these charging stations are 50kW (480 V) DC Fast Charging Stations – the fastest type of public charging available today -, and will charge a typical electric vehicle to approximately 80% of its battery capacity in 30 minutes. Walmart’s partner, EVgo, is additionally recording positive feedback from Walmart’s customers, through independent mobile apps for electric vehicle drivers.

Which GRI Standards and corresponding Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) have been addressed?

The GRI Standard addressed in this case is:

Disclosure 302-1 Energy consumption within the organization

Disclosure 302-1 Energy consumption within the organization corresponds to:

 

80% of the world’s 250 largest companies report in accordance with the GRI Standards

SustainCase was primarily created to demonstrate, through case studies, the importance of dealing with a company’s most important impacts in a structured way, with use of the GRI Standards. To show how today’s best-run companies are achieving economic, social and environmental success – and how you can too.

Research by well-recognised institutions is clearly proving that responsible companies can look to the future with optimism.


 

FBRH GRI Standards Certified and IEMA approved Sustainability Course | Venue: London LSE

By registering for the next 2-day FBRH GRI-Standards Certified and IEMA approved Course you will be taking the first step in gaining the many benefits of sustainability reporting.

 

References:

1) This case study is based on published information by Walmart, located at the link below. For the sake of readability, we did not use brackets or ellipses. However, we made sure that the extra or missing words did not change the report’s meaning. If you would like to quote these written sources from the original, please revert to the original on the Global Reporting Initiative’s Sustainability Disclosure Database at the link:

http://database.globalreporting.org/

2) http://www.fbrh.co.uk/en/global-reporting-initiative-gri-g4-guidelines-download-page

3) https://g4.globalreporting.org/Pages/default.aspx

4) https://www.globalreporting.org/standards/gri-standards-download-center/

Note to Walmart: With each case study we send out an email requesting a comment on this case study. If you have not received such an email please contact us.

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