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Community and Recycling Among Highlights of Lowe’s 2011 CSR Report

leonkaye headshotWords by Leon Kaye
Data & Technology

Lowe’s has followed up last year’s corporate social responsibility report, a comprehensive review of the company’s investment in clean energy, greener construction and its employees. Last week’s release of its 2011 social responsibility report reveals how the do-it-yourself retail home improvement company has ramped up its efforts in recycling, clean energy and more efficient building.

From environmental conservation, supplier diversity to community development, this year’s report is full of highlights.

Some of Lowe’s more notable accomplishments include:

Recycling: Garden centers at stores like Lowe’s often have generous return policies in the event potted plants die. The program is great for clueless gardeners but bad for waste diversion. Lowe’s has expanded its plastic recycling program so customers can drop off pots and trays no matter where they were purchased. The company also made progress on the recycling of rechargeable batteries and CFL’s. Store participation in battery recycling programs almost doubled while Lowe’s collected 352,000 used compact fluorescent bulbs (CFLs).

Energy efficiency: Lowe’s has increased the purchase of clean energy sources to over 148 million kilowatts, a 34 percent increase from 2010. Solar installations at a few of its stores generated 3.2 million kilowatt hours of electricity last year. The step is a small one--that is the equivalent of powering 285 homes for a year--but should be sign of more green energy projects to come.

Community involvement: With budget cuts affecting schools from coast to coast, Lowe’s Toolbox for Education program contributed $4.5 million for building improvements at 1000 schools last year. The projects include library renovations, gardens and technology improvements. Lowe’s spent a total of $19 million on community development projects in 2011.

Supply chain responsibility: With a supply chain including over 500 vendors in 19 countries and 750 factories making products for Lowe’s stores, compliance is always a challenge. Through its subsidiary, LG Sourcing, Lowe’s completed over 900 factory certifications and more than 600 random social compliance audits. LG Sourcing employees also conducted 16,000 product and packaging tests as well as 11,000 pre-shipment inspections.

Empowering women builders: Home improvement is hardly a guy’s job. Since 2004, Lowe’s has underwritten Habitat for Humanity’s Women Build program. Last year Lowe’s donated $1.3 to 250 Habitat affiliates that participated in Women Build Week. Over 9600 women volunteered, and over 10 percent of them were Lowe’s employees.

Click here to view more of Lowe’s 2011 social responsibility report.

Leon Kaye is a journalist, sustainability consultant and the editor of GreenGoPost.com. He also contributes to Guardian Sustainable Business and Inhabitat. You can follow him on Twitter.

Photo courtesy of Lowes.

Leon Kaye headshotLeon Kaye

Leon Kaye, Executive Editor, has written for Triple Pundit since 2010. He is also the Director of Social Media and Engagement for 3BL Media, and the Editor in Chief of CR Magazine. His previous work can be found at The GuardianSustainable Brands and CleanTechnica. Kaye is based in Fresno, CA, from where he happily explores California’s stellar Central Coast and the national parks in the Sierra Nevadas.

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