Delivering a keynote speech at the Price of Wales's Business and the Environment Programme in London yesterday (1 February), Wal-Mart president and CEO Lee Scott unveiled 'Sustainability 360', a company-wide plan to tackle sustainability issues beyond Wal-Mart's direct environmental footprint by engaging employees, suppliers and customers.

"Sustainability 360 takes in our entire company - our customer base, our supplier base, our associates, the products on our shelves, the communities we serve," said Scott. "And we believe every business can look at sustainability in this way.  In fact, in light of current environmental trends, we believe they will and soon."
 
Through its 'Global Innovation Projects' Wal-Mart claims to have challenged associates and suppliers to remove non-renewable energy from Wal-Mart products.

"Perhaps the most far-reaching opportunity we have with our suppliers is a simple idea with potentially profound consequences," said Scott. "Just think about this: What if we worked with our suppliers to take non-renewable energy off our shelves and out of the lives of our customers? We could create metrics and share best practices so our suppliers could make products that rely less and less on carbon-based energy."

Wal-Mart is also increasing pressure on suppliers to cut packaging - the company aims to reduce packaging by 5% by 2013.

Highlighting the world's largest retailer's commitment to working with communities, Scott discussed efforts to promote sustainable practices when it enters new markets.

"We all have an opportunity to be more sustainable. But even more, we have a responsibility. We need to be sustainable companies and countries made up of people who live sustainable lives. If we do that, if we do it throughout the coming decades, I believe we will make sustainability… sustainable. And this generation will leave a healthier humanity and a healthier planet to future generations," Scott told delegates.