The case for CSR/ Sustainability Reporting Done Responsibly


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Case study: How Walmart is reducing energy intensity and emissions in its operations

With 11,530 stores and hundreds of millions of customers across the planet, Walmart is committed to doing its part in the global efforts to combat climate change – caused, not least, by increased greenhouse gas emissions –, continually improving energy efficiency and reducing emissions in its operations.

This case study is based on the 2016 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 that CSR/ sustainability reporting done responsibly is achieved by identifying a company’s most important impacts on the environment and stakeholders and by measuring, managing and changing. 

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Committed to joining global efforts to stop global warming, Walmart is actively striving to increase energy efficiency and reduce emissions in its operations. In order to succeed in its efforts to reduce its energy intensity and emissions, Walmart took action to:

  • Invest in renewable energy sources
  • Reduce Walmart’s energy demand through energy efficiency
  • Improve refrigeration systems in Walmart’s stores
  • Increase the efficiency of Walmart’s U.S. fleet

What are the material issues the company has identified?

In its 2016 Global Responsibility Report Walmart identified a range of material issues, such as supporting local manufacturing, continuing responsible sourcing practices, ensuring food and product safety, eliminating waste in operations, supporting local community causes. Among these, in the face of global warming and amidst global efforts to combat climate change, reducing energy intensity and emissions in its operations 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 organization should identify its stakeholders, and explain how it has responded to their reasonable expectations.”

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

Walmart engaged with its stakeholders, to explore their perspectives on its most important issues, through interviews, discussions, working sessions and surveys, which included a 1,750-respondent survey carried out by Sustainalytics.

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What actions were taken by Walmart to reduce energy intensity and emissions in its operations?

In its 2016 Global Responsibility Report Walmart reports that it took the following actions for reducing energy intensity and emissions in its operations:

  • Investing in renewable energy sources
  • 2015: Walmart had more than 2 billion kWh of renewable energy installed or contracted from over 470 projects globally.
  • Walmart covers 25% of its energy needs worldwide from renewable energy sources.
  • Reducing Walmart’s energy demand through energy efficiency
  • 2014: Walmart installed more than 10,000 high-efficiency rooftop heating and cooling units (RTUs), saving 89 million kWh per year.
  • 2015: Walmart operated with 10% less energy per square foot (compared to 2010), a 1% improvement in comparison with 2014.
  • Improving refrigeration systems in Walmart’s stores
  • Walmart is incorporating refrigeration and store designs that facilitate the transition from high Global Warming Potential refrigerants (GWP) to the use of new, environmentally friendly, refrigerant gases and less HFC-reliant systems (hydrofluorocarbons or HFCs are powerful greenhouse gases)
  • Increasing the efficiency of Walmart’s U.S. fleet
  • [tweetthis]2015: Walmart doubled the efficiency of its U.S. fleet[/tweetthis], avoiding emissions of almost 650,000 metric tons of CO2.

Which GRI indicators/Standards have been addressed?

The GRI indicators/Standards addressed in this case are:

1) G4-EN3: Energy consumption within the organization – the updated GRI Standard is: Disclosure 302-1 Energy consumption within the organization

2) G4-EN15: Direct greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions (Scope 1) – the updated GRI Standard is: Disclosure 305-1 Direct (Scope 1) GHG emissions

3) G4-EN16: Energy indirect greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions (Scope 2) – the updated GRI Standard is: Disclosure 305-2 Energy indirect (Scope 2) GHG emissions

4) G4-EN17: Other indirect greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions (Scope 3) – the updated GRI Standard is: Disclosure 305-3 Other indirect (Scope 3) GHG emissions

5) G4-EN18: Greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions intensity – the updated GRI Standard is: Disclosure 305-4 GHG emissions intensity

6) G4-EN19: Reduction of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions – the updated GRI Standard is: Disclosure 305-5 Reduction of GHG emissions

7) G4-EN30: Significant environmental impacts of transporting products and other goods and materials for the organization’s operations, and transporting members of the workforce

 

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/

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