Wal-Mart and its CSR

According to Wikipedia Corporate social responsibility is a form of corporate self-regulation integrated into a business model. We heard a small bit about Wal-Mart and how it’s trying to

We saw in our lecture on Wednesday a part of the list of the 100 largest economic entities in the world. Currently Wal-Mart is number 19 on the list and it has been predicted that in the next couple of years it could be in the top 10.

Recently Wal-Mart developed three long-term goals

  • to be 100 per cent supplied by renewable energy
  • to make stores 25 per cent more efficient
  • to create zero waste.

Wal-Mart only manufactures 8% of the products it sells. In order to become more environmentally friendly Wal-Mart must look to its suppliers. But Wal-Mart isn’t relying solely on the suppliers. They has created energy-efficient stores such as its Supercenter in Texas. The Supercenter is powered by wind turbines. It has more than 160 skylights and it uses advanced heating and cooling systems. It also recycles cooking oil from the kitchen to provide supplemental heating. Wal-Mart saves over $300,000,000 a year in its fuels costs by reducing its emission’s and becoming more environmentally friendly. Wal-Mart has said that if themselves and their suppliers can’t figure out the what a problem is on their own or find a solution they go directly to the source of the problem e.g. the farmers who grow the product, in order to try and reach a solution.

Wal-Mart showed how much a company can help the surrounding community if they embrace corporate social responsibility in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. The government was unable to deliver food, medicine and water to the people who were stranded and left homeless by the storm. Wal-Mart stepped in and provided the community with these vital necessities.



E-waste, a closer look.

This week we learned about the problem of the export of e-waste to the developing world. I am going to take a closer look at the problem for this week’s blog.

According to Wikipedia E-waste (which is also known as Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment – WEEE) is “discarded, surplus, obsolete, or broken electrical or electronic devices.” When this waste is processed informally in developing countries serious health and pollution problems occur. Some electronic scrap components contain contaminants such as lead, mercury, and flame retardants which are toxic not just to humans but also to the environment.

E-waste is regularly exported by developed countries to developing ones even though it is against international law. Colin told us on Wednesday that only 1 in 100,000 items for export was inspected. In 2005 18 European seaports were inspected and it was found that nearly 50% of the waste that was being exported was illegal. This shows us that on a day to day basis a huge quantity of illegal e-waste is being exported. In 2003 in the UK at least 23,000 metric tonnes of undeclared electronic waste was illegally shipped to the Far East, India, Africa and China. In the US it is estimated that 50-80% of the waste collected for recycling is being exported in this way. However in the USA this is legal as the USA has not agreed to the Basel Convention. I found this video which talks about where e-waste ends up.

What damage does e-waste do?

E-waste is often sent to third world countries by the shipping container load. Many companies who say that they are recycling e-waste are actually sending the pollution to other countries. Large piles of unwanted consumer electronics build up by the side of the road and in the landfills of the developing countries. They leach toxins into the soil and into the groundwater. This can cause many problems such as crop deficiencies, birth defects, and serious illnesses. A couple of companies have begun to take notice of this problem and are taking action to dispose of e-waste safely. This practice is supported by governments who have stated demanding e-waste processing fees are put onto the sale price of new consumer electronics.






A University?

1. What is a university and what does it do?

According to Wikipedia a university is “an institution of higher education and research which grants a wide range of academic degrees in a variety of subjects.”  State-supported universities award degrees of different levels to their graduates. They offer Level 7 or Ordinary Bachelor degrees, Level 8 or Honours Bachelor’s degrees, level 9 or Master’s degrees and Level 10 or Doctoral Postgraduate degrees. Universities are usually located in larger towns and cities and people come from the surrounding hinterland in order to gain an education from a usually broad range of courses ranging from business and science to engineering and humanities. It lets students experience a wide range of cultures as it usually has a wide multinational community. It also gives students the chance to experience different cultures through the Study Abroad or Erasmus programs. Students from other countries also have the chance to come and study there. A university is a community that gives a student a chance to grow academically, emotionally, socially and spiritually. A university also offers students the chance to take part in extra curricular activities ie clubs and societies. The university usually provides the equipment and location for these clubs and societies.

2. What should a university do?

A university should first and foremost provide its students with an education in their chosen degree area. It should let students experience a wide range of cultures through its wide multinational community as well as through work experience or travel to different regions of the world.  Its degree programs should be able to provide graduates with the skills and ability to get a job regardless of the economic situation of the country at the time when they graduate. It should be an example to other higher education institutions in terms of innovative ideas. The university should have policies that create a good learning environment and strong well educated graduates that will become a driving force in their field. A university should allow a student to grow not just academically but also emotionally and socially. It should provide postgraduates with the opportunity to research and develop new ideas.

3. What will a university look like in 2050?

I think something like this.

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“Water, like energy in the late 1970s, will probably become the most critical natural resource issue facing most parts of the world by the start of the next century.”

This week we talked about whether the earth would be able to sustain a growing population with regard to food so I decided to learn more about its ability to sustain a growing population with regard to water.

The following diagram shows the stress that is currently put on the water supply of each area of the earth.


In 2030 the world population is expected to reach 8.3 million. This will cause a 50% increase in the earths demand for energy and food, and a 30% increase in the demand for water. Currently the World Bank reports that 80 countries are facing water shortages that threaten both health and economies while 40% of the world, which is more than 2 billion people, have no access to clean water or sanitation. If population growth continues at the rate it is going today these numbers will also grow. We all know that water is our most precious resource so what problems will the world face when the demand for water grows?

Obviously a larger amount of countries will face water shortage problems. The scale of the problem will also increase in countries that are already facing these difficulties. The number of people who live without access to clean water will grow. This will create health problems for many people.

The number of conflicts in the world will increase. Many countries get most of their water (75% or more) from rivers that cross borders of neighbouring countries that can be viewed as hostile. (e.g. Botswana, Cambodia, the Congo and Sudan) If the water supply to these countries is lessened due to an increase in water use in the neighbouring countries huge problems will be caused for the people living there. In the Middle East getting and maintaining adequate water supplies is a very high political priority. In recent years Iraq, Syria and Turkey been verbally threatening each other over the shared water supplied. If water shortages reach crisis point countries may take it as far as war in order to find a solution.

Water shortages will also cause an agricultural crisis. Food and agriculture are the largest consumers of water. They need one hundred times more water than we use for personal needs. As the per capita water use increases due to changes in lifestyle and as population increases the amount of water available for agricultural use will decrease.

We can make changes in order to try and solve or at the very least lessen the water crisis problem. If drip irrigation was used in agriculture rather than the type of irrigation that is used today a huge amount of water saving could be made. Currently in a typical household in the developed world 45-50% of the drinking water used in the house is flushed down the toilet. If this percentage was decreased huge savings could be made.

Everyone can make a difference by making a few small changes that wouldn’t affect their day to day life. I found some water saving tips here http://www.greenbusiness.ie/saving-water/water-tips/. It appears to me after learning more about water shortages that though it could become very difficult for developing countries to cope with demand in the coming years, especially considering they are not currently able to do so, it should be relatively easy for developed countries such as Ireland to control their water consumption and decrease the amount of water they waste.