Wal-Mart Stores, Inc. annouced on Dec. 2 that it has established a partnership with many of its sustainability suppliers to facilitate the creation of green jobs in the U.S. The Wal-Mart Green Jobs Council is comprised of representatives from throughout the retailer's divisions, including store operations, real estate, logistics and sustainability, and representatives from suppliers across a variety of industries.
"We believe that creating green jobs is essential to keeping the United States competitive in the global marketplace," said Leslie Dach, executive vice president of corporate affairs and government relations for Wal-Mart. "At Wal-Mart we believe that by bringing these companies together and working collaboratively we can help develop a larger green job workforce in this country."
At an inaugural meeting of the Wal-Mart Green Jobs Council, participants identified their top catalysts for creating green jobs, including government policies, executive leadership for sustainability programs, and market drivers such as increased customer demand. Top barriers identified by the group include a lack of a trained workforce and lack of access to capital, especially in the current economic environment.
Participants are also working to more clearly define standards for green jobs and to work collaboratively towards facilitating green job development. More than 30 suppliers participated in the inaugural meeting, including large and small companies such as BP Solar, Dematic, General Electric, HydroPoint Data Systems, Lennox, ReCold, Schneider Electric, SwissLog, Systecon, Thermastor and Zurn.
As part of its company-wide sustainability goals, Wal-Mart is committed to being supplied 100% by renewable energy, creating zero waste and selling environmentally-friendly products. The company is moving toward these goals by using sustainable sourcing practices including energy efficiency, waste reduction, renewable energy and lifecycle management.
For example, Wal-Mart recently announced its first substantial purchase of wind energy in the U.S. which will lead to the creation of green jobs in Texas. The wind power will supply up to 15% of the retailers' total energy load in approximately 360 Texas stores and other facilities.
"Wal-Mart's Green Jobs Council is driving collaboration among a variety of companies that are focused on America's most valuable resource; the American worker," said Christopher Spain, chairman and chief strategy officer for HydroPoint, Data Systems in Petaluma, Calif. "To overcome both rising unemployment and dwindling natural resources, we must invest in our nation's workforce through the development of jobs that preserve the environment for generations to come. I believe the goals of the Green Jobs Council are highly achievable."