Substantial. Wal-Mart hopes to cut 2.5 million metric tons of CO2 missions by 2013, by making its existing stores 20 percent more efficient. New stores built in 2007 alone, however, will consume enough electricity to add approximately one million metric tons of CO2 to the atmosphere. Wal-Mart’s energy use and carbon footprint, (the company estimates that its U.S. operations were responsible for 15.3 million metric tons of CO2 emissions in 2005), is significantly more than its competitors stores based on its 24-hour operations and push for rapid expansion of the Supercenter format. To put Wal-Mart’s 15.3 million metric tons of CO2 emissions in perspective, this number represents the approximate emissions of Chile and is larger than Rhode Island, Vermont, South Dakota, and Idaho.
It is still unclear what Wal-Mart’s environmental footprint is because there are not any reliable ways to measure it. However, the company itself has recently undertaken a huge project that will require their suppliers to provide the information about the environmental impact of their product Furthermore, Wal-Mart is requiring the suppliers to distill the information into a sustainability rating and place it on the label. According to the CEO of Wal-Mart, the company is hoping to “create a new retail standard for the 21st century” (see source).
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