Walmart and the Environment

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From the way Walmart tells it, you would think that the company is a leader in sustainability.  True, the company is a leader, but unfortunately for the planet it’s a leader in greenhouse gas emissions and use of electricity derived from coal.

Walmart: One of the Largest, Fastest Growing Climate Polluters in America

  • Since 2005, Walmart’s self-reported greenhouse gas emissions have grown 14%.[1]
  • When calculating its emissions, Walmart fails to account for major, fast-growing sources of pollution in its operations, including those from international shipping, new store construction and product manufacturing.[2]

Walmart: Massive User of Coal-Based Electricity

  • In 2013, to power its US stores and distribution centers, Walmart used electricity requiring some 4,240,000 tons of coal,— enough to fill 42,300 railcars, creating a train 420 miles long. That’s the distance from Boston to Washington, DC.[3]
  • Walmart’s use of coal-fired electricity in the US accounts for 37% of its total reported global greenhouse gas emissions and 74% of its US emissions from electricity.[4]

Walmart Produces Just 3% of its Energy from Renewable Sources, Some Competitors Produce More Than 100%

  • Despite its many media announcements about solar and wind projects, Walmart lags competing chains and many independent retailers in making the switch to renewable power. Companies like Kohl’s and STAPLES get 100% of their energy from renewable sources. [5]
  • Shockingly, the proportion of Walmart’s energy that comes from renewable sources has actually declined in recent years.[6]

Walmart and the Walton Family Fund Politicians Who Consistently Vote Wrong on the Environment

  • Between 2005 and 2012, Walmart and the Walton family gave more than half of their total Congressional campaign donations to members of Congress with lifetime scores of 30 or less on the League of Conservation Voters scorecard (meaning they voted against the environment at least 70 percent of the time).[7]
  • The Waltons have also overwhelmingly supported members of Congress who support the Keystone Pipeline. Among current members of Congress, 94% of the Waltons’ political contributions from 2000 to 2014 went to politicians who voted to support the Keystone Pipeline in November, 2014.[8]

Generating More Trash for Landfi­lls

  • Many retailers are selling lower-quality goods than they used to, in large part thanks to Walmart, whose relentless drive to cut costs has pushed suppliers to make cheap goods that must be replaced more frequently.
  • Likely due to the Walmart in­fluence on apparel manufacturing, Americans are throwing away 83 pounds of textiles, mostly old clothing, each year—four times as much as they did in the 1980s. This system is a win-win for Walmart; consumers attracted by low prices will buy cheap goods, and will have to come shop again for replacements when the original items break or wear out.[9]








[8] Analysis of data from the Center for Responsive Politics,