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Walmart Announces Sustainable Product Index

Walmart has announced plans to develop a worldwide sustainable product index that will establish a single source of data for evaluating the sustainability of products. The company, working with consumer-goods manufacturers and a group of universities, plans to measure the sustainability of every product it sells.

“Customers want products that are more efficient, that last longer and perform better,” said Mike Duke, Walmart’s president and CEO. “And increasingly they want information about the entire lifecycle of a product so they can feel good about buying it. They want to know that the materials in the product are safe, that it was made well and that it was produced in a responsible way.

The company will introduce the initiative in three phases, beginning with a survey of its more than 100,000 suppliers around the world. The survey includes 15 questions that will serve as a tool for Walmart’s suppliers to evaluate their own sustainability efforts. The questions will focus on four areas: energy and climate; material efficiency; natural resources, and; people and community.

As a second step, the company is helping create a consortium of universities that will collaborate with suppliers, retailers, NGOs and government to develop a global database of information on the lifecycle of products -- from raw materials to disposal. Walmart has provided the initial funding for the Sustainability Index Consortium, and invited all retailers and suppliers to contribute.

The company will also partner with one or more leading technology companies to create an open platform that will power the index.

The final step in developing the index will be to translate the product information into a simple rating for consumers about the sustainability of products. This will provide customers with the transparency into the quality and history of products that they don’t have today.

In time, sustainability labels could provide us with information about the environmental and social attributes of consumer goods, much as nutrition labels tell us about the content of the foods we eat.

Wal-Mart Stores, Inc. (NYSE: WMT) serves customers and members more than 200 million times per week at more than 8,000 retail units under 55 different banners in 15 countries. With fiscal year 2009 sales of $401 billion, Wal-Mart employs more than 2.1 million associates worldwide.

 






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