Walmart launched its Sustainability Index in July 2009 and over the past several years, the company has made great strides in advancing its supplier-related sustainability goals. In 2010, Walmart announced that it would place more emphasis on expediting the agriculture aspect of the Sustainability Index and in 2011 the company created category scorecards that helped buyers evaluate suppliers. Last week, Walmart executives announced new and updated initiatives including a stronger focus on recycling and green consumables.

The world’s largest retailer is paying particular attention to plastic recycling and is working with cities and municipalities to help improve plastic recycling rates. In addition to focusing on plastic recycling on the consumer side of things, Walmart will also be working with suppliers to encourage the use of recycled materials in consumer goods. A third key recycling initiative was also announced at last week’s meeting – a smartphone trade-in program. Beginning September 21, Walmart and Sam’s Club will roll out a smartphone trade-in program. 

Another primary initiative of the 2013 Sustainability Index progress report is an increased focus on green consumables like household cleaners, personal care items and beauty products. Walmart will be working with suppliers to reduce or eliminate the use of 10 specific, but as-of-yet unnamed, chemicals. 

Walmart is also embracing the importance of transparency and will begin labeling its private brand household cleaners to meet the EPA’s recommended Design for the Environment (DfE) Safer Product Labeling program guidelines. The new labeling program will launch in January 2014.

In addition to the recycling and green consumables initiatives, Walmart also highlighted three other areas:

  • Reducing fertilizer use in agriculture - the initiative could lead to the reduction of fertilizer use on 14 million acres of farmland by 2020
  • Expanding the index to international markets - Walmart is rolling out the Sustainability Index to Chile and Mexico in 2014
  • Energy efficiency - Walmart will continue its supply chain energy efficiency efforts and the company also launched a private-label LED light bulb that sells for under $10
For more information about this year’s progress, visit the Walmart Sustainability Index web portal.

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