Beedie hosts Candid Conversation with Walmart Canada about Sustainability

Nov 24, 2011

SFU’s Beedie School of Business hosted “A Candid Conversation with Walmart Canada about Sustainability” on Monday, November 21 at the Segal Graduate School of Business in downtown Vancouver. The event was co-sponsored by SFU Beedie’s CMA Centre for Strategic Change and Performance Measurement and SFU Beedie’s NetImpact Chapter.

A diverse and engaged audience — consisting of SFU MBAs and BBAs, plus students, faculty and industry professionals from across the Lower Mainland — joined the Beedie School to learn more about Walmart Canada’s latest sustainability initiatives. They also participated in a frank question and answer period afterwards about the company’s position on a number of sustainability-related areas – from supply chain management to organizational culture.

Andrew Telfer, Manager, Sustainability at Walmart Canada, provided an industry update on what Walmart is doing in the area of sustainability, answering questions from students and the SFU community. Telfer noted that Walmart Canada has three core sustainability goals: to be supplied 100% by renewable energy, to create zero waste, and to sell products that sustain people and the environment. And while he admitted there’s still a lot of work to be done, he pointed to many changes by the national retailer that are already underway.

Photo: Andrew Telfer, Manager, Sustainability at Walmart Canada, presents about Walmart Canada’s sustainability initiatives.

Sustainability, according to Telfer, contributes to Walmart Canada’s productivity loop – and the company will see $140 million savings over five years. The company also asserted its belief that sustainability shouldn’t be a competitive advantage, and how it collaborates with others on the return on investment (ROI) around sustainable business.

A number of specialized initiatives are asserting a culture of sustainability at the company. Walmart Canada’s My Sustainability Plan, for example, encourages associates to do more for sustainability. Meanwhile, the retailer has also launched the Walmart Green Business Summit and the website – both devoted to collaboration around the ROI of sustainability.

“Our students are change makers and future leaders,” said Beedie Assistant Professor Stephanie Bertels. “Being able to engage in frank conversations helps them to see both the opportunities and challenges in implementing the sustainability agenda.  Andrew’s talk really highlighted that the solutions will be rooted in cross-industry collaborations.”

At the event, Telfer also encouraged students to get involved in Walmart Canada’s Green Student Challenge:

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