Wal-Mart, in China, pushes suppliers down green path

Thu Oct 25, 2012 3:33am EDT
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By Wan Xu and David Stanway

BEIJING (Reuters) - Wal-Mart Stores Inc has given global suppliers five years to comply with its environmental rules or risk being pushed off U.S. shelves at the world's largest retailer, expanding a sustainability campaign launched in 2009.

The new requirements, announced in China where Wal-Mart has more than 20,000 suppliers, will compel workshops that churn out much of the world's toys, clothing and electronics to improve on energy efficiency, waste reduction and other markers on the retailer's checklist.

If suppliers fall short, they could be cut off from the nearly 4,000 Walmart discount stores and more than 600 Sam's Club wholesale warehouses that the company operates in the United States.

The standards set in Wal-Mart's "sustainability index", which has helped to burnish an image tarnished by criticism from labor groups and local communities, have already been embraced by 500 of the world's major consumer product makers.

The retailer said that by the end of 2017, U.S. Walmart and Sam's Club stores will get 70 percent of their goods from global suppliers that use the sustainability index.

"This will send a clear message to the Walmart supply chain that if you want to grow and partner with us for the long term, you will engage with us on the sustainability index," Wal-Mart Chief Executive Mike Duke said in a speech in Beijing, a copy of which was provided to Reuters in advance.


Wal-Mart has pushed suppliers to cut down on packaging, water usage and energy consumption, in part because it cuts costs.   Continued...

Employees stand in front of the gate to a Wal-Mart Supercenter in Chongqing municipality October 24, 2011. REUTERS/Stringer