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Wal-Mart Stores, Inc. said it has created a coalition with "many of its leading sustainability suppliers" that will work to create green jobs in the U.S. Called the Wal-Mart Green Jobs Council, the group is comprised of representatives from throughout Wal-Mart's retail divisions, representing disciplines such as 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 of the initiative. "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."
The council is the newest part of Wal-Mart's commitment to reaching a battery of sustainability goals, including being supplied 100 percent by renewable energy, creating zero waste, and selling environmentally-friendly products. Wal-Mart said it is moving toward these goals by using sustainable sourcing practices including energy efficiency, waste reduction, renewable energy, and lifecycle management.
For example, the retailer recently made its first substantial purchase of wind energy in the U.S., which it said will lead to the creation of green jobs in Texas. The wind power will supply up to 15 percent of the retailers' total energy load in approximately 360 Texas stores and other facilities. This is one example of the dozens of projects "with green job creation potential" Wal-Mart said it is implementing across its operations.
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, the retailer reported. 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," Wal-Mart said. 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.
"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."
Wal-Mart said it plans to convene the next Green Jobs Council meeting in Washington, D.C., early next year.