Wal-Mart Pushes Energy Efficiency on Chinese Suppliers

by | Mar 1, 2010

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walmart storefrontWal-Mart Stores is working with its Chinese suppliers to address energy efficiency and environmental impacts, reports the Washington Post.

The retailer, fresh off a major announcement last week to cut its supply chain emissions 20 million metric tons by 2015, has more than 10,000 suppliers in China.

In fact, if Wal-Mart were a sovereign nation and not a corporation, it would rank as China’s fifth- or sixth largest market for exported products, according to the Post.

One of Wal-Mart’s suppliers, Lutex, has added energy efficient lighting, boosted HVAC efficiency and reduced packaging, for instance. The company treats four tons of wastewater itself, instead of pumping it into the municipal sewage system.

Wal-Mart is screening all new Chinese suppliers for environmental practices.

The retailer used to audit its 100,000-some global suppliers on its own, but there were so few auditors only about 10,000 of those could be visited.

Now, the company is working with independent auditors that have been recommended by advocacy groups.

As a result of audits for a range of practices, from the environment to labor and human rights, in 2008, Wal-Mart suspended 126 suppliers for a year, according to the Post. It shut out another 35 suppliers on a permanent basis.

Out of 100,000 suppliers that amounts to over a tenth of one percent of suppliers being suspended or shut out.

Marks & Spencer, a prominent UK retailer, also is working on its supply chain sustainability. M&S plans for 100 percent of its products to be “eco” or “ethical” by 2020.

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