There’s no doubt that the prospect of launching sustainability initiatives at your company can be a bit daunting. So, I thought it might be helpful (and hopefully, a little inspiring) to take a look at programs that are already underway at a few major corporations in the U.S.
No, this isn’t going to be another blog about Wal-Mart. Their sustainability programs have received plenty of recognition here and elsewhere, and today I wanted to re-direct the spotlight, if even just slightly. After all, when you read story after story about Walmart, doesn’t it make you wonder what’s happening with regard to sustainability at other industry leaders in the retail sector?
Let’s take Target, for example. They operate about 1,500 stores in 47 states, recently launched a presence in India, and boast that 96% of people polled recognize their “bulls-eye” logo. But, what is Target doing about sustainability and climate change?
Judging from their website, I’d have to say the answer is: plenty. I was quite impressed with the amount of information I could find after just a few minutes of poking around Target’s corporate homepage. Their 2007 Corporate Responsibility Report is easily accessible, and it systematically lays out the company’s commitment to the “social, environmental, and economic well-being of the global community.”
The 55-page report has 13 pages dedicated exclusively to environmental responsibility, and in this section, Target outlines how its working to achieve goals like: using resources responsibly; eliminating waste; minimizing the company’s carbon footprint; offering natural, eco-friendly, and organic products; developing facilities that align environmental, community, and business needs; and influencing vendors and suppliers to embrace sustainable practices. There are extensive details about Target’s numerous recycling programs, efforts that the firm says “benefit the environment, fuel the economy, and in many cases, generate income for us.” And, there’s more: stores with green roofs, news about sustainable packaging, green energy use, Brownfield redevelopment…etc.
From Target, I moved on to the Macy’s, Inc. website, where I was able to find a one-page presentation of their “5-Point Action Plan” for sustainability. One page? That’s a bit minimalist, I’ll admit. But, as I’ve said many times before, everyone has to take those first steps. One thing I like about Macy’s action plan was Step 4, where the company commits to a “360-degree approach to sustainability that involves everyone around us,” including vendor partners. I also really like Step 5, where the company pinpoints four very specific, very quantifiable goals it plans to achieve by 2010. Over the next two years, Macy’s has pledged to: reduce total use of energy another 10-15% (they’re already down 9% over the past five years), increase renewable energy use eight-fold, reduce paper use by 20%, and increase the percentage of recycled and/or third-party certified paper used by 20-fold (to at least 50%).
After Macy’s, I decided to check out one more major retailer: Sears Holdings Corporation, the parent of Kmart and Sears, Roebuck and Co. Sears Holdings Corporation is the nation’s fourth largest broadline retailer with $50 billion in annual revenues and some 3,800 stores throughout the U.S. and Canada.
Once again, I have to say that I was hoping for more than I found. Sears breaks down its commitment to environment sustainability in a one-page document with three sub-heads: energy, paper, and polyvinyl chloride. (There’s also a Paper and Wood Products Procurement Policy linked to the “paper” section.) It looks like the company has some fundamental steps underway, but I’m eager to hear more about Sears Holdings Corporation and sustainability over the next year. In the first paragraph of their environmental sustainability page, the company states, “Some of the initiatives are happening now, and some are a work in progress.” In my opinion, we’ll all benefit when major retailers like Sears Holdings Corporation start reporting on the gains made by broadly incorporating sustainability initiatives into their business plan.