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Fortune magazine asked Sam's Club CEO Doug McMillon if parent company Wal-Mart's sustainability mandate was helping business.
"It's been an interesting journey," says McMillon. "I remember the first conversation that (Wal-Mart CEO Lee Scott) had with a group of us, and I didn't really understand what he was talking about. 'Sustainability' was defined in a financial sense for me. As he started to broaden the conversation into the environment and then social issues, it sounded like potentially a big distraction. But in fact it fits within our overall mission- to save people money so that they can live better.
"We underestimated how much financial benefit we could get from it. We found items that if you simply reduce the amount of packaging involved, save cost, and pass that on to the customer--you sell more. You're just eliminating waste. We thought we were efficient before, but we really weren't. It was as if somebody handed us a different pair of glasses, and the whole world looked different."
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