Focusing on water stewardship

We understand water is intrinsic to our mission of helping our customers save money and live better. Water is used in our stores by associates and customers, across our supply chain and in our products. We focus on water stewardship through the implementation of technology such as high-efficiency urinals, low-flow toilets, flow reducers in faucets and via the recovery of clean water from store processes.

We believe water is a location-specific issue, and we’ve made great progress in many water-sensitive regions. Walmart operates in 27 countries, all with varying levels of water stress, ranging from low to extremely high. We estimate that more than 20% of our operations are, or will be, located in regions facing high levels of water stress, such as the Yaqui, Rio Grande or San Joaquin watersheds of the U.S., and the Mexico Valley and Lerma-Santiago-Pacifico hydrological regions.    

Nature is Speaking

Walmart partner Conservation International recently launched Nature is Speaking, a campaign designed to provoke a conversation about nature's essential role in our lives.

For resources like water and soil—foundational elements to keep the world fed and nourished—our commitment to sustainability has a ripple effect around the globe. The food industry has to adapt to meet the world’s rising demand for food, in a way that does not use every last drop of water and erode every ounce of soil.

Working with supplier companies and NGO partners like Conservation International and Environmental Defense Fund, we will provide increasing visibility over the next 10 years to agricultural yields, greenhouse gas emissions, and water usage, and drive adoption of best practices in sustainable agriculture.

Stewardship in action

As a retailer, our direct water intensity is relatively low when compared to mining, manufacturing and agri-business. Still, we actively work to improve our water efficiency through better facility design and operational improvements. For example:

  • Mexico: During 2013, we ran a pilot program in stores to recover water from backwashing of the filtration systems, cleaning and reusing it in our operations. The initiative reduced water usage at participating stores by an estimated 8%.
  • South Africa: Massmart deploys rainwater and condensation harvesting strategies at 53 Builder’s Warehouses and eight Makro stores. Harvested waste is used for nursery irrigation at Builder’s Warehouse, as well as store landscaping at Makro. These systems collect more than 790,000 gallons (3 million liters) of rainwater annually, and have contributed to a 38% decrease in consumption.
  • U.K.: Asda uses water meter data to actively identify high water usage and leaks. Our maintenance team uses this information to identify and repair faulty toilets and taps, as well as hidden leaks in pipes and pumps that might otherwise have gone unnoticed.
  • U.S.: Walmart U.S. incorporates water efficiency into standard construction designs. For example, all newly remodeled and constructed stores are built with high-efficiency urinals that use only one pint per flush. The restroom sinks in newly constructed Walmart stores and Sam’s Club locations use sensor-activated, half-gallon-per-minute, high-efficiency faucets. The restroom toilets in these locations are highly efficient, using 1.28 gallons per flush. These measures are expected to save 500,000 gallons (1.9 million liters) of water annually at each supercenter and 200,000 gallons (760,000 liters) annually at each Sam’s Club.