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EDF-Walmart's Unlikely Partnership Yields Far-Reaching Results

By Lori Valigra
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Ten years ago the Environmental Defense Fund (EDF) and Walmart, the world’s largest employer, formed what was seen at the time as a partnership of strange bedfellows focused on a seemingly unlikely goal: driving sustainability and environmental ambition. It wasn’t a partnering seen as positive by some environmental advocates and EDF’s own board members, writes EDF’s Executive Director Diane Regas in GreenBiz. 

Now, she says the collaboration worked out better than expected, and even spread outside Walmart to other companies.  See the case study here.

“We saw in Walmart incredible potential to drive sustainability, and were determined to make the most of the company’s rare convergence of market power and environmental ambition. We began a partnership that continues to bring outsized environmental results that extend far beyond a single company,” she notes.

Regas also says the success Walmart experienced with EDF’s help was EDF’s own grounding in science, pragmatic approach and ability to speak the language of business, plus three pivotal themes.

We recently came out with language specific to various societal sectors, including business, to help with words that convey how to be a clean company. See our report,  “Let’s Talk Climate.” 


Walmart, EDF and 3 reasons to think bigger on collaboration

Diane Regas | GreenBiz | March 10, 2016

I’ll be honest: We had pushback from some of our board members and colleagues in the environmental community when we decided 10 years ago to put a team of experts in Bentonville, Arkansas, home of Walmart’s headquarters.

Back then, Environmental Defense Fund was the only nonprofit willing to let the public know we were meeting with Walmart. The world’s largest private employer had its critics, and still does.

But we saw in Walmart incredible potential to drive sustainability, and were determined to make the most of the company’s rare convergence of market power and environmental ambition. We began a partnership that continues to bring outsized environmental results that extend far beyond a single company.

Last month, as I joined Walmart Chief Sustainability Officer Kathleen McLaughlin on stage at the GreenBiz16 conference in Phoenix, we talked about three pivotal themes that helped elevate this extraordinary partnership to heights neither side had imagined.

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