Wal-Mart announces sustainability efforts in China

by FoodBusinessNews.net Staff
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BEIJING — Wal-Mart Stores, Inc. hosted a gathering of more than 1,000 suppliers, Chinese officials and non-government organizations in Beijing and outlined a series of goals and expectations to become more sustainable and environmentally responsible in the global supply chain.

"Sustainability is about building a better business," said Lee Scott, president and chief executive officer. "We think it is essential to our future success as a retailer and to meeting the expectations of customers. Maintaining the trust of our customers — today and in the future — is tied hand-in-hand with improving the quality of our supplier factories and their products."

Wal-Mart presented a series of requirements for companies desiring to do business with the company. These requirements include demonstration of compliance with environmental laws and regulations, a desire to improve energy efficiency and use fewer natural resources, having higher standards of product safety and quality, and greater transparency and ownership.

"I firmly believe a company that cheats on overtime and on the age of its labor, that dumps its scraps and chemicals into our rivers, that does not pay its taxes or honor its contracts will ultimately cheat on the quality of its products," Mr. Scott said. "And cheating on the quality of products is the same as cheating on customers. We will not tolerate that at Wal-Mart."

More specific efforts include partnering with suppliers to improve energy efficiency by 20% in the top 200 factories it sources from directly in China by 2012. By 2009, Wal-Mart will require all direct import suppliers as well as suppliers of private label and non-branded products to provide the name and location of every factory used to make the product it sells. By 2012, the company also will require suppliers it buys from directly to source 95% of their products from factories that receive the highest ratings on environmental and social practices. In addition, Wal-Mart also is rolling out a new design and store prototype in China that uses 40% less energy and will reduce energy at existing stores by 30% by 2012.

"Few challenges in our world today are more pressing than protecting the environment, and in China Wal-Mart has a unique opportunity to lead," said Ed Chan, president and c.e.o. of Wal-Mart China. "With the world’s largest population and a robust manufacturing industry, no market presents a greater opportunity for environmental sustainability to take hold than China."

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