Wal-Mart’s green hat

Of all companies, the "bully of Bentonville" has ridden into the fray wearing the white — or rather, green — hat, asserting by example that all this paralysis and animosity over protecting the planet is sheer crazy talk.

Believe it or not, this reddest of red-state retailers — joined by a growing number of like-minded companies large and small — insists there is a business case for sustainability, a profit motive for investing in green. And it has the data to prove it: The company is pocketing hundreds of millions of dollars with more planet-friendly practices that lower carbon emissions, conserve energy, save forests and radically reduce landfill waste. Soon this sustainability payback will be in the billions. Greening the business, it turns out, is a comfort, not a curse, in a tough economy.

Since 2005, Wal-Mart's "evil empire" has lowered the carbon footprint of its stores by more than 10% and of its trucking fleet by several times that amount. Better fuel and energy efficiency, streamlined trucks, energy-saving lighting and refrigeration and better route planning have saved Wal-Mart hundreds of millions of dollars. The retailer also has shown its suppliers in the United States and China how to lower their carbon emissions and energy bills by 20% to 60%.

To read the full article by Edward Humes click here.