Walmart announces five-year plan to improve sustainability

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Walmart announces five-year plan to improve sustainability

Wal-Mart Stores will give suppliers five years to meet new social and environmental compliance standards, under a four-part sustainability plan announced in Beijing on Thursday.

CEO Mike Duke. Photo: Wal-Mart Stores, Inc.

"When we held the Beijing summit four years ago, it was clear to us that the Chinese government was very focused on making progress in sustainability," said CEO Mike Duke.

We saw an opportunity to work with our partners in China to make our global supply chain more socially and environmentally responsible."

"Today I'm announcing a series of steps and commitments that will make Walmart's supply chain, here in China, and around the world, more sustainable."

The CEO clarified that submission to the announced guidelines had not been made mandatory.

By 2017, Walmart projects to buy 70% of its goods sold in the U.S., including at U.S. Sam's Clubs, from suppliers that use the company's sustainability index to  evaluate its products.

The sustainability index is currently employed by 500 suppliers to evaluate around 100 product categories using metrics set by The Sustainability Consortium (TSC), the body tasked with researching and organizing Walmart's product standards.

The company hopes to integrate 100 additional product categories by the end of the year. Under the index, the company evalutions factors such as water waste and energy consumption.

Using the same index, Walmart will begin in 2013 to evaluate the design of its U.S. private brand products. In 2013, the company will also change the way key global sourcing merchants are evaluated to place a greater importance on sustainability in day-to-day activities.

Finally, the Walmart Foundation will grant US$2 million to TSC to help launch a TSC in China, a stronghold of Walmart's supplybase.

The announcement from Duke comes the same week the company signaled an overhaul of its compliance department, amid accusations of corruption at its Mexican affiliate, Walmex. Reuters reported that, according to an internal memo, the company has hired a global chief compliance officer, marking one of its most public moves yet to fight corruption.

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