Sunday, July 30, 2006

WalMart and Global Warming

Wal-Mart has been laying plans to combat global warming in a variety of ways -- improving fuel efficiency in its trucks, drastically reducing the amount of packaging it uses (meaning less energy is used to create the packaging in the first place), reducing the use of electricity (Wal-Mart is the biggest user of electricity in the world), and more. A friend of mine from church works at Wal-Mart's headquarters, and he mentioned to me that in a meeting the other day, the fellow in front of him seemed familiar, and when they had the chance to talk, it turned out to be the national president of the Sierra Club.

I wouldn't be surprised if, when all is said and done, Wal-Mart may have done more to help the environment than any other organization in the world. One very wealthy donor can make headlines for making a one-time gift of $400 million to environmental groups. But Wal-Mart is the biggest company on earth, and it purchases some $100 billion from its suppliers, year in, year out. When Wal-Mart snaps its fingers, tens of thousands of companies jump. And if Wal-Mart demands that other companies use less energy, less packaging, etc., it will happen.

2 Comments:

Blogger Dave said...

Biggest company by revenues, yes. But that's a poor proxy for profitability or propensity to create wealth for shareholders.

On both those scores, Wal-Mart is not near the top of the tables. I'd argue profitability and wealth generation are more impressive feats than mere revenues.

4:04 PM  
Blogger Stuart Buck said...

That may be true, but I don't think it has any relevance. The point is that Wal-Mart has a lot of spending and bargaining power -- which translates into influence over what some 60,000 companies (its suppliers) do. Profitability is beside the point.

7:25 PM  

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