This is an interesting piece that appeared in the New York Time recently about Wal-Mart’s allegiance with a a major environmental group. What do you think of these two as bedmates? And what, if anything, do you think will come out of such a partnership? We’d love to hear your thoughts.
Unexpected Ally Helps Wal-Mart Cut Waste
by Stephanie Clifford
Michelle Harvey, an employee of the Environmental Defense Fund, has a security badge to a site that used to be considered enemy territory: the headquarters of Wal-Mart Stores in Bentonville, Ark.
An environmentalist in Bentonville sounds like the premise for a low-budget reality show, but Wal-Mart has been courting environmental groups and seeking their input on its policies in the seven years since it first announced a sustainability program.
The company, the nation’s biggest retailer, has met some environmental goals and missed others. On Monday, it plans to announce that it now reuses or recycles more than 80 percent of the waste produced in its domestic stores and in its other United States operations. That is up from 64 percent as of 2009, but it is short of the zero-waste goal the company hopes to get to.
Wal-Mart’s environmental push has helped transform public opinion of the company, easing the way for it to open stores in urban areas like Chicago and Los Angeles. About a quarter of Americans now have a favorable impression of Wal-Mart, about double the percentage that did in 2007 (the earliest available figure for Wal-Mart), according to the YouGov BrandIndex, which measures consumers’ impressions of companies and products.
Before Wal-Mart announced the environmental initiative in 2005, H. Lee Scott, the chief executive, reviewed the legal and public relations problems the company was having. It had paid millions of dollars in fines for violating local pollution laws, and was facing a lawsuit claiming that Wal-Mart discriminated against women. Mr. Scott wondered if behaving differently could enhance the company’s reputation, he told Fortune. That year, Mr. Scott announced a wide-ranging plan to lessen the retailer’s environmental impact. Wal-Mart has issued regular updates on its progress since then.
Click here to read the rest of this article on NYTimes.com.