When Wal-Mart says jump, its supply chain asks how high.
We saw the process with Wal-Mart’s decision to mandate its top 200 suppliers to start putting RFID tags on pallets, and now it is asking some 60,000 of its suppliers to measure and report on their greenhouse emissions.
The RFID tags were probably more beneficial to Wal-Mart than to its suppliers. Despite the supermarket boasting about its fiercely efficient supply chain, the tags revealed some terrible bottlenecks in its own stores.
Unless Wal-Mart suppliers get with the green agenda, they are likely to find that it is the supermarket giant that benefits most from the audits it is mandating.
Wal-Mart pulls no punches on its reasoning. The green data it is demanding will be used to highlight the most efficient companies and then to drive down cost.
“Our objective is to find efficiencies in the supply chain. If we remove carbon, which equates to energy, which equates to cost, we fulfil out objective of getting low process to the customer and having a positive impact on the environment,” Jim Stanway, its head of global supply chain initiatives told the Financial Times.
Some might argue about Wal-Mart’s “positive impact on the environment,” but the message is clear. One of the world’s most powerful companies is going to use the environmental crisis to, in effect, impose its own green taxes on its supplier.
So how does this impact on IT in general and on UK IT in particular?
Some UK companies are beginning to measure their carbon footprint. Scottish & Newcastle brewers, Kimberly-Clark, the nappy and toilet paper manufacturer and Cadbury Schweppes are all starting the process, and it has little to do with ticking CSR boxes.
Green audits are coming and with IT accounting for as much energy consumption in this country as air travel, we had better be able to come up with some answers.