CASE OVERVIEW This case presents an interesting and very real dilemma: In 2005, Walmart committed to selling “products that sustain people and the environment.” However, despite environmental and social concerns of the category that include energy required for transport and storage, the plastic used for bottling, the potential lack of purity due to chemicals leeching from the plastic, massive waste, and the cost relative to tap water, consumers want and continue to buy bottled water. Thus the espoused goals of the company are in seeming conflict with its business model. Bottled water is an item under public scrutiny, and producers were already working on solutions such as less plastic in bottles. But what responsibility does Walmart have? Lee Scott provided the answer to this dilemma in his interview with the Wall Street Journal when he said that as long as consumers demanded bottled water, Walmart would sell it. With that backdrop, what can managers do? Overall, the case implies four possible approaches to this challenge: discontinue selling all bottled water products; change consumer demand; redesign the supply network; or improve forecasting. This case is not designed for full forecasting analysis.
Galbreth, Michael; Waller, Matthew A.; Vincent, Christopher; and Hyatt, David G., "Bottled Water Mini Case" (2013). Wal-Mart Sustainability Case Project. 5.