Shopping for sustainability

the environmentalist discovers what some of the biggest brands on the high street are doing to address their impacts


Asda is owned by US retailer Walmart. It announced three key goals in 2005: to create zero waste, run on 100% renewable energy, and sell products that sustain people and the environment. These continue to apply and it is also now focused on ten priorities including: promoting growth of suppliers, local manufacturing and small businesses, especially women; reducing energy intensity and emissions in its operations and the supply chain; helping to preserve natural resources, especially forests, water and land; and supporting the safety and dignity of workers.

Walmart’s 2016 global responsibility report, which covers the period between 1 February 2015 and 31 January 2016, reveals that 75% of the company’s global waste had been diverted from landfill. Asda alone diverted 98.9%, with 91% reused or recycled (including anaerobic digestion), and had kept its food throwaway rate at less than 1% over the previous five years.

Walmart was the largest onsite renewable energy user in the US in 2015, with more than 340 solar installations throughout the country. Meanwhile, Asda has installed 3.8 MW of solar PV across its estate and, since 2010, reduced its energy reduction intensity by 19%. The UK operation has set a target to use 30% renewable energy by 2020. Overall, Walmart eliminated 35.6 million tonnes of greenhouse-gas emissions from its supply chain. ...

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