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Walmart accused of 'greenwashing'

A US environmental group has accused family-controlled retail giant Walmart of leaving some of its most polluting activities off its annual sustainability report.

A US environmental group has accused family-controlled retail giant Walmart of leaving some of its most polluting activities off its annual sustainability report.

In 2005, the hypermarket chain, controlled by the Walton family, launched a much-publicised sustainability campaign. It says since then its greenhouse gas emissions have risen only 14%.

But the Institute for Local Self-Reliance (ILSR) said Walmart is “greenwashing” – a term used to describe corporations overstating their environmental credentials – and is one of the fastest growing polluters in the US.

In a report titled Walmart's Assault on the Climate, ILSR said the supermarket chain has annual carbon dioxide emissions of 21 million metric tonnes.

It said the supermarket chain's annual sustainability reports do not include international shipping and new store construction in its carbon emissions tally.

The report said the company’s track record is so bad it would rank 33rd on the Greenhouse 100 Polluters Index – which is ordinarily reserved for companies operating in heavy industry.

It said this does not even take into account emissions for products imported on its behalf by suppliers.

ILSR said Walmart's imports from abroad have grown 247% in the last 10 years.

“In the next two years alone, the company plans to open 516 new stores in the US – more than 41 million square feet – whose design maximises land consumption, driving and pollution," it said in a statement.

Walmart has previously said it aimed to be 100% supplied by renewable energy, to create zero waste, and to sell products that sustain people and the environment.

In response to the ILSR report, Walmart said it had achieved its goal to reduce greenhouse gases by 20% from its stores, clubs and distribution centres. It said this amounted to 3 million metric tonnes of greenhouse gases, or the equivalent of taking 625,000 cars off the road.

Walmart said it aims to eliminate 20 million tonnes of greenhouse gas emissions from its global supply chain by the end of 2015. 

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