Green Business: Whither Walmart on Sustainability

Walmart is one of the biggest ships in the Sustainability seas. Wither goes Walmart, goes a big swath of American commerce, production,  and consumption. For good or bad. reporter Jeffrey Hollender agrees, saying:

I believed and still believe, that no organization on the planet has more power or potential to very quickly effect positive social and environmental change than Walmart. More fuel-efficient trucks is easy low-hanging fruit, but when Walmart starts telling P&G to reformulate and redesign their products – we’re moving into uncharted territory.

Hollender goes on to say that Walmart’s ship was steering into greener waters in the late 2010s under the leadership of then-CEO Lee Scott. Several years after Scott’s departure, Hollender reports, Walmart has wandered off course:

Via and

Walmart’s Sustainability Efforts Stall Under New Leadership

And even where Wal-mart has made its [sustainability] goals, questions linger.

Wal-mart concedes that the use of murky subcontractors is widespread in China, Africa, the Middle East, and Bangladesh. They won’t provide details about how they have achieved their goals, whether suppliers were asked or compelled to share factory information, and whether any suppliers lost orders or were fired for unsatisfactory responses.

Hat tip to commenter CBKSK for highlighting Walmart’s issues as a Principal-Agent scenario.

This means that when you hire someone to help you, they may or may not do things in a way that matches up with your best interests.

Effective Sustainability practices hinge on paying full freight for all the costs and impacts incurred by a business.

This looks to me like a case of missing and broken accountability links.

Whither Walmart? I’m hopeful the retail giant will veer back on track to results that benefit all parties in their business, including and especially its customers.

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