Wal-Mart delivers report card on its green goals

Associated Press

BENTONVILLE, Ark. (AP) — Wal-Mart Stores Inc. said Monday that it is on track to meet many of its goals for becoming more environmentally sustainable, but it failed to meet some benchmarks like reducing phosphates in detergents it carries and selling more energy efficient home products.

Wal-Mart CEO Mike Duke said in June that environmental sustainability is one of the company's top five priorities this year. Even small improvements in Wal-Mart's operations can make a big difference because of the massive scale of its retail outlets and global supply chain.

"Understandably, in some areas our progress is slower than we would like and sometimes we hit temporary roadblocks," Duke said in a statement Monday, as the company released an annual update of its environmental sustainability efforts.

The company said it failed to double U.S. sales energy efficient consumer products compared to its sales in 2008. Sales were up just 33.5 percent from 2008, in part because products like programmable thermostats aren't sold as often as less-efficient products that must be replaced more quickly.

Wal-Mart said it also failed to reduce the level of phosphates in its laundry and dish detergents sold in the Americas by 70 percent from 2009 levels, cutting them by just 43 percent. The company said a major supplier in Mexico and Central America had cut phosphate levels before 2009, which slowed further reductions since then, the company said.

Wal-Mart said it was on track to meet other goals, like cutting all waste sent to landfills from its U.S. Wal-Mart stores and Sam's Club locations by 2025. The company said it cut waste sent to landfills by 80.9 percent by the end of 2011.

The company said that 22 percent of its electricity came from renewable sources while 15 percent of its total energy came from renewables.

Shares of Wal-Mart rose 99 cents, or 1.7 percent, to $60.76 in afternoon trading. They are near the upper end of their 52-week range of $62.63 reached in early February. They fell as low as $48.31 in early August.