Walmart plans to make its activities fully renewable.
The retailer has partnered with energy services company ENGIE North America on wind projects to direct renewable energy to “hundreds of stores, clubs and distribution centers” in Texas, South Dakota and Oklahoma, according to the company.
The move comes because Walmart has set itself the goal of becoming a “regenerative company that runs 100 percent on our own with renewable energy” by 2035. The retailer has previously set targets to be “emission free” by 2040.
“Securing innovative, scaled energy transactions is another solid step toward our goal of 100 percent renewable energy by 2035 and zero emissions by 2040,” said Mark Vanderhelm, vice president of energy and facility management at Walmart Inc. .., wrote in a company blog post.
“With a mix of infrastructure and innovation, we can set an example of what a company can do to move into a cleaner future,” he wrote.
The retailer said it had increased its reliance on renewable energy, which accounted for 36 percent of total electricity needs in 2020, up from 29 percent in 2019.
Renewable energies are becoming a growing part of energy procurement in America in general, given their cost compared to traditional fossil fuels. The international group of the International Renewable Energy Agency found in a 2020 report that replacing solar and wind sources with around 500 gigawatts of high-priced coal sources would save $ 23 billion in annual electricity costs.
“It is obviously important to address the impact of global warming on the environment, but there are other benefits as to why renewable energies should be the future, and one of them is that the costs can be lower and they can also create jobs”, said Julio Sevilla, Associate Professor in the Department of Marketing at the Terry College of Business at the University of Georgia.
Walmart’s moves come at a time when President Joe Biden’s administration, which signed up to the Paris Agreement, is setting broad targets to cut greenhouse gas emissions over the next decade. Such goals generally require the participation of Corporate America, according to experts.
“The [Biden administration’s] Commitment means that we must align our emissions at both government and corporate levels with the commitments under the Paris Agreement, ”said Tensie Whelan, clinical professor of economics and society and director of the NYU Stern Center for Sustainable Business.
“And investors are [also] They are starting to make commitments to reduce the carbon footprint of the companies they lend or buy in, ”added Whelan. “And they are increasingly demanding disclosure. And they punish companies that problematically come into contact with coal or oil. ”
According to a 2020 study by the NYU Stern Center for Sustainable Business with data from data analytics firm IRI, corporate marketing has increased in terms of the carbon footprint of products in recent years.
The study, which conducted an analysis of sustainably marketed products and the practice of adding carbon labels to products, found that around $ 1.3 billion in products sold in the US in 2020 had this type of renewable labeling Energies exhibited.
The Walmart blog post announcing renewable energy was followed by a brief survey asking, “Based on this information, do you agree that Walmart is committed to making it more sustainable?”
Overall, consumers tend to take a holistic view of the company’s business rather than separating environmental measures from other aspects of doing business, according to experts.
“Especially for companies with mixed reputations, there can be a discrepancy between the actual progress of a company and the question of how this translates into indirect value through the reactions of stakeholders to these sustainability measures,” said CB Bhattacharya, the Zoffer Chair of Sustainability and Ethics from the University of Pittsburgh’s Katz Graduate School of Business. Bhattacharya is also the author of Small Actions Big Difference, the 2019 book on corporate sustainability.