With the rise in global warming awareness, consumers are realizing how their habits and daily activities impact the environment. There is a trend that consumers are interested in buying products that are sustainable from when they are sourced until the end of their product life cycle. Walmart launched its Sustainability Index in in 2009 with a mission to be transparent about products’ materials and processes so that suppliers, retailers and consumers can make educated decisions about sustainable products. Walmart’s goal is to encourage suppliers to innovate new ways to improve the quality their products and packaging as well as increase consumers’ awareness of greener product alternatives. How Walmart achieves this goal will be discussed in the following sections.
- Supplier Sustainability Assessment: Walmart, being a global company, has over 100,000 suppliers around the world. In order to evaluate sustainability efforts, each supplier recorded information on their energy usage, raw materials, natural resources, and community involvement. Walmart then took this information and generated reports so that suppliers could see how they measured up to Walmart’s standards as well as other suppliers processes. Suppliers then had the opportunity to increase sustainability efforts in whichever area needed improvement.
- Lifecycle Analysis Database: The lifecycle of the product can be defined as sourcing of raw materials, to production, to distribution and transportation, to consumer usage, and finally to end of use. The Sustainability Consortium is a nonprofit organization dedicated to improving the sustainability of consumer products. With working with Walmart, TSC identifies social and environmental issues as well as improvement opportunities that have the potential to solve the identified issues.
- Education: The Walmart Sustainability Index allows for customers to live a more sustainable lifestyle. With companies labeling their products as “green” and “eco friendly”, consumers can become confused on which products have the smallest impact on the environment. With the Walmart Sustainability Index, consumers can be confident that the products they purchase are sustainable.
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