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Essay: Walmart’s sustainable development journey

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  • Subject area(s): Business essays
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  • Published: 9 April 2023*
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Sustainable development is the concept of society being able to meet their essential needs and also assuring that the future generations are able to do so too. As well it’ll cause despair in the upcoming years if we don’t decide to go against these dilemmas and is a very important component to have a sustainable environment.

Walmart is one of the biggest retailers worldwide where many know, has implemented various digital transformations to diminish waste, consume less energy, provide supply chain control. In Walmart, there is a vast number of shelf-scanning robots and integrated IoT sensors which demonstrates sustainability in terms of energy savings and customer satisfaction. Additionally, Walmart is an effective online shop that offers features like mobile Express Returns and QR code scanning. It allows clients to shop while still in their homes, decreasing the need for transportation and CO2 emissions. Although this is beneficial, it did not cost free; Walmart invested a total of $14 billion towards technology, automation, and a diverse amount of business areas. As well, Walmart is going to plan a vast number of employees ranging from many different professions like architects, data engineers, software engineers, etc. Like I said, this is beneficial, but $14 billion is not a small sum of money, and many can’t even imagine having such an absurd amount, so why at such a great expense? What was Walmart thinking? Well, they obviously had some plans before executing this idea, and a plan that stood out was improving every area using next-gen technologies. However, this strategy wasn’t made right away, it took a few years of hardship to think of this. Before the year 2014, Walmart’s market was suffering and did not have a great patent portfolio. (Walmart’s Tough Time)

As well, the process of taking legal action against this were rising. (Walmart’s Tough Time) After Walmart experienced this crash, the company had a development, a goal they decided to work towards to. This is where plan that involves technologies come into play. They decided to do something they haven’t done before, which is becoming a corporation solely aimed on technology. Due to their determination, they stayed focused of what was ahead of them, and it all worked out in the end. The number of lawsuits against Walmart were declining. Now that Walmart has cleared the bottleneck that has stopped them from advancing any further, they are finding out all sorts of ways to impact the world little by little; and of course, these ways are sustainable.

One of the biggest projects that are in plan is sustainable packaging. Being the biggest retail company, they’ve doubt to have a extensive amount of plastic, and because they have an online shop and to add that they’re a very large company, the packages being plastic does not help whatsoever. So, the first step was to make the packaging eco-friendly. As in the search of finding a substitute for plastic, they’ve started project named Circular Connector which allows acceleration in packaging; this also allows other companies who are also sharing the same goal. Nonetheless, there’s no need to freight if we would have a new technology in Canada as a Robotic technology from a company called GreyOrange will be occurring in Canadas Walmart’s fulfillment center located in Alberta. This automation will be adept at transporting over 10 million items per year; and just as great as it sounds, it’s expected to minimize waste, decrease transportation costs, and develop packaging. However, like all things, they’re not free; Walmart has invested $3.5 billion towards this and expect a favorable outcome. Despite all this, Walmart needed to understand that there were 3 factors that are needed to allow it to be put in place, cultural, economic, political, and geographical.

Like you know, Walmart is at the top when compared to other retailers which will lead to the company dealing with many political problems and government doings that can either help Walmart or danger it. For Walmart, all its suppliers, and manufacturers value political stability. It’s vital for Walmart to be able to enlarge their stores. Furthermore, suppliers are able to adhere to standards and focus on operations due to the political stability in the regions where its manufacturers and suppliers operate. The benefit of this expansion depends on taking advantages of the opportunities in China’s market and handling the risks carefully.

Another concern is the political pressure for greater salaries that has impacted Amazon. For instance, the “Stop Walmart Act” by a Vermont senator sought to prohibit stock buybacks and retailers like Walmart and Amazon until they’ve increased the income to $15 per hour. This can tarnish Walmart’s image. In the terms of economic factors, economic instability is a risk on the company’s global profitability. Research says economic factors that impact Walmart can also impact its suppliers as the rise in the cost of products sold might have an on Walmart’s everyday pricing (edlp) strategy. In the first place, Walmart’s primary asset is the low prices, and due to this, Walmart will need to struggle against its rivals. In any other region where Walmart is performing can have a negative impact on consumer demand for Walmart products; and because of this, it may have an impact on net sales.

Another economic factor is the increase in interest sales which will affect Walmart’s earnings. Now for cultural factors; although Walmart is widely known, it’s not an ideal shop you’ll choose for your day-to-day shopping, and a great example of this is Germany losing $1 billion because of lack of interest, however it was mostly Walmart’s fault due to not promoting the German market productively. This taught Walmart that only brands that are knowledgeable on how to provide clients with certain products will be successful, for example serving healthy food to an audience that’s aware of their health. Walmart now has organic and nutritious foods. This same decision has been made by a handful of companies. Walmart has also started to focus more on e-commerce stores (drop shipping) to gain more customers. Those products can be delivered to a nearby store or a customer’s address. Additionally, they have the free choice of having employees pick up groceries from Walmart and driving them to the clients. This is extremely beneficial for those who are unable to enter Walmart, like the elderly.

Lastly geographical factors; a few years ago, Walmart was accused and charged of disposing of dangerous pesticides and fertilisers that were found sewer systems. Another difficulty outside of Walmart is emission reduction. Walmart is the biggest retailer which serves more than 200 million customers, and even more on their website and because of this, it has a vast impact on the environment. A project called Gigaton was introduced by Walmart to address this concern, and has stated by the year 2030, Walmart and its suppliers hope to reduce emissions by one gigaton. It’s believed that Walmart would be a very reliable source to develop and advance human technology and finding sustainable ways to improve the Earth. Electric public transportation is self-explanatory, it’s a public transportation (e.g., buses) which is electric. It provides many benefits and is already implemented in Asia. Asia produces a significant amount of greenhouse gas emissions; its cities are moving in the direction of sustainability. By using electric buses to meet transmit demands without being concerned about tailpipe emissions, several Asia Pacific regions are advancing towards emission-free public transportation by deploying electric buses to meet transmit demands without worrying about emissions. By 2027, 704,000 cars will rule the electric bus market by 2027.

Environmentalists promote the decrease of the greenhouse effect by aiming for a transition and limiting the region’s reliance on gas and oil. In many new cites, LED bulbs are being used to replace the existing lighting system. These technological advancements will play a crucial role in increasing energy efficiency and reducing dependency on sources that emit emissions. However, it was obviously not free. Just like electronics, it needs to be charged, so needing a charger for every bus alone will cost a lot, as well you’ll need to purchase and install them which would roughly be around $70 million. But that’s only the chargers, each bus would cost from $950,000 to $12,500,000 ($200,000 to $500,000 more than a diesel bus). Although this a is an expensive amount, electricity cost less than fuel as they have fewer parts compared to diesel buses. It is also expected to be more reliable and can even save money in the long run. It’s estimated if the whole fleet were changed to electric buses, it would save around $50 million to $70 million in fuel annually.

Despite all of this, the government would need to be involved to make investments; this would mean buying electric buses and building charging stations, so the transit agencies will make the fares cheaper. An estimated 300 million tonnes of plastic garbage are generated globally each year. This is very similar to the weight of the entire human race. Almost half of all plastic produced are used once and then discarded. The food and beverage business are a big offender in the usage of single-use plastic, which is bad for the environment and earth itself. According to a survey, only the daily use of food packaging accounts for around 78.1% of domestic plastic trash. In order to limit the consumption of single-use plastics and prevent the hazards related to food packaging, start-ups are attempting to develop and produce biodegradable food packaging. A food wrap made of natural silk protein and resembling plastic has been developed by a company named Mori. The food is kept fresh when it is delivered to retailers by replacing any thin plastic film or packaging. Since it is 100% natural compared to plastic, its biodegradable.

References

Walmart ESG report

2022-12-1-1669864361

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