Oct. 6, 2021
By Jane Ewing, Senior Vice President, Sustainability
One year ago, Walmart set a goal to become a regenerative company—one that places nature and humanity at the center of our business. The effects of climate change have grown even more urgent since we made that commitment. The communities we serve and our global neighbors alike have felt the impacts of a record-hot summer and increasingly frequent and severe weather events. And new data underlines this reality, so we must act.
The steps taken today will determine whether we can mitigate the worst effects of climate change in time. But it's on all of us—businesses, governments, NGOs, customers and communities—to channel this urgency into action. For Walmart, this journey began after Hurricane Katrina and has evolved as we made progress, expanded our ambition and built new partnerships along the way. Now as we work to go beyond sustainability to restore, renew, replenish and preserve our planet, we are working across our business to tackle issues related to climate, nature, waste and people in our supply chains.
New commitments for virgin plastic and apparel
Today, as the next step on our journey, we're adding several new goals to our efforts:
- By 2025, we aim to achieve a 15% absolute reduction of our virgin plastic footprint. Our virgin plastic footprint includes any plastic that is produced from new materials, rather than recycled ones. We’ll aim to do this by reducing the amount of plastic used altogether, as well as replacing with recycled content and reusing materials. This goal is part of our work with the Ellen MacArthur Foundation to shift to a circular economy—and is in addition to our existing target to achieve 100% recyclable, reusable or industrially compostable private-brand packaging by 2025.
- In apparel, we are expanding the scope for our goal to source 100% more sustainable cotton and 50% recycled polyester for Private Brand apparel and soft home textile products by 2025. From today, those goals move beyond Walmart U.S. to include Sam’s Club U.S. and Walmart Canada Private Brand apparel and home textiles as well.
- Additionally, by 2025, Walmart U.S. will require suppliers to ensure that none of the manmade cellulosic fibers—including rayon/viscose, modal, lyocell, acetate and trademarked versions—sourced for Walmart U.S. Private Brand apparel and soft home textile products are derived from ancient or endangered forests, or from endangered species’ habitats or other controversial sources, as defined by the nonprofit organization Canopy’s tools and reports.
Systemic change requires collective action
But our individual commitments are not going to be enough. We must use our scale to spark collective action across our supply chain and industry. To mark our progress and continue laying out an effective path for collective action, today Walmart brought together our stakeholders at the 2021 Sustainability Milestone Summit. Numerous suppliers, NGO partners and associates shared how they are bringing regeneration to life through their work, from chemicals management and reducing plastic packaging to commodity sourcing and place-based landscape initiatives.
Testing new regenerative sourcing models
We also can use our scale and purchasing power to move the needle on regenerative practices. For instance, one of the new programs we announced is our commitment to begin purchasing Pacific Island Tuna (PIT) products for our in-house brand, Great Value. Pacific Island Tuna launched today as a partnership between nonprofit The Nature Conservancy and the Republic of the Marshall Islands, with a significant portion of the profits anticipated to be directed back to Pacific Island communities. Set up to deliver industry-leading environmental, labor and traceability standards, PIT holds the potential of raising the bar for the industry and showcases how it is possible for “brand name” profits to benefit the community whose resources are being used.
And Walmart Canada announced that it will purchase the largest known quantity of beef from certified sustainable Canadian farms and ranches ever sourced by a single retailer in Canada. Beef purchased through this commitment will support the environmental, social and economic sustainability of Canadian farmers and ranchers whose operations are certified through a third party audited system, in accordance with sustainability standards set by the Canadian Roundtable for Sustainable Beef (CRSB).
Toward regeneration with actions big and small
Each of the sessions at Milestone had one thing in common: a sense of urgency, a deep commitment to action and a recognition that each goal rests on a foundation of continued progress made possible by an entire network of collaborators. It will take collective action, small and big, by everyone. Take a look at our regeneration page for highlights.
While our Sustainability Milestone Summit is an annual moment of reflection and inspiration, the progress showcased at this year’s forum also served as a reminder of what’s possible when everyone gets on board to change the future for better. As we look ahead, we are thankful to our partners for pushing us and each other, our associates for doing the heavy lifting, and our leaders for recognizing the need for urgent action. Leadership takes courage—and we’re committed to leading.
Watch the Sustainability Milestone Summit here.