Sustainability

Notes from the Milestone Meeting

By  Doug McMillon, President & CEO, Walmart February 20, 2014

Walmart Advanced Vehicle Experience concept truck

When Walmart began our sustainability journey, I never thought it would lead us to trucks like this.

We’re just beginning formal testing, but this Walmart Advanced Vehicle Experience concept truck will be 20 percent more aerodynamic than our current trucks and have a micro-turbine hybrid powertrain that can run on diesel, natural gas, biodiesel and probably other fuels still to be developed. It may never make it to the road, but it will allow us to test new technologies and new approaches. I share it because it gives you a sense of how sustainability is helping us see things in new ways.

This was just one of the innovations we discussed at our Sustainability Milestone Meeting on Monday. We also talked about new ideas around less photogenic topics like air filters, buttons, and even landfills. By seeing through the lens of sustainability, we are accelerating the pace of innovation across our business.

We also heard from several leaders in our company about the progress we’re making against our goals to be supplied by 100 percent renewable energy, to create zero waste, and to sell products that sustain people and the environment.

A few thoughts after my first Milestone Meeting as CEO:

Leaning in on Products
We’re going to continue the good work around energy and waste while really leaning in on products. As we grow to a planet of 9 billion people who all want to live like we do, Walmart needs to provide access to food, clothing, and household goods that are sustainable for the planet at prices people can afford. It’s a huge challenge, but it’s right in line with our mission of saving people money so they can live better.

Thinking Holistically
We need more whole systems thinking. One of the great things about sustainability is that it helps you step back and see the big picture. Our responsibility to the planet is about more than the time a product is in our store. It’s about how it was grown or manufactured, how it was transported, and whether it can be reused or recycled. I especially want to thank the suppliers, NGOs, other retailers, and community members who attended on Monday because this type of effort takes all of us working together.

Caring about People
Sustainability is ultimately about people. Peter Seligmann from Conservation International joined us to share what his group is working on. They have a bold new campaign that will shake people up by pointing out that people need nature more than nature needs us. And they’re right. As a father, one of my “a-ha” moments around sustainability occurred when talking to my sons at the dinner table years ago when they were just boys. I asked them if Walmart should lead on sustainability, and they replied: “Duh, dad.” They’re going to need this planet long after I will.

Sharing the Excitement
Finally, I was reminded that this is important work but it can still be fun. I love innovating for our customers. I love seeing our organization get passionate about big issues. I love the difference Walmart can make. We had so many people from across the business stand up and share the projects they’re working on, and their enthusiasm is contagious.

It’s an exciting time to be at Walmart. We certainly don’t have all the answers, but we’re working hard every day to get better.

Read more from Doug McMillon

15 Comments

The MurphysMARCH 4, 2014 3:05 PM

Great step, now use some of the vast real estate on the trailer for some photo cells and this could get real efficient.

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Mike louden.MARCH 8, 2014 10:33 PM

I drive and deliver to Wal-Mart with swift transportation, although exciting looking concept they still need to meet the DOT regs for weight per axle. Not to exceed 12.000lbs on steers, 34.000lbs drive axle, and 34.000lbs on the trailers axle. Or 80.000lbs gross vehicle weight. Although you can improve wind resistance and fuel burn, it's the weight the road surface can withstand and the redesign of new Wal-Mart's that can handle a 60.5 ft trailer and truck combination backing in.

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Bubba Mandela KincadeAPRIL 2, 2014 7:07 PM

I wish Wal-Mart would put there money into something useful, like there employee's. Instead of having the government give 85% of all there employee's food stamps, health care, and rent subsidy's.. Pay them and honest wage, instead of having beg other people for help....

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Keli KanielaAPRIL 3, 2014 4:08 PM

Hope whatever they decide, it's MADE IN AMERICA! Have seen so many changes in Wal Mart since they first came to California, and don't like that direction. Wonder how Sam Walton would feel about they way stores are ran now. Less for family, and more for profit! Help America, buy MORE American product and sell them Wal Mart.

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Chad MitchellAPRIL 4, 2014 7:16 AM

Hi Keli: Sorry to hear you've been disappointed with stores in California. I'd love to hear more about it so we can share the info with our store managers. With regards to Made in the USA, according to data from our suppliers, items that are made, sourced or grown right here in America already account for about two-thirds of what we spend to buy products at Walmart U.S. But there is room to do more and we are committed to American renewal - $250 billion over the next 10 years.

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