Blog: Dean BestWal-Mart's green push leaves questions unanswered

Dean Best | 26 February 2010

Often a villain in campaigning circles, Wal-Mart is keen to be seen to be green.

The world's largest retailer had already put down a marker with its "sustainability" index but yesterday (25 February) the company set out its stall to cut carbon emissions across its business.

There will always be sceptics in the campaign community that will be extremely hard to convince. Some will want greater detail on Wal-Mart's plans and on how it will measure a supplier's carbon footprint.

Others, however, take the view that Wal-Mart is taking steps in the right direction and support the retail titan in using its massive leverage for the environmental cause.

Fred Krupp, president of green campaigners the Environmental Defense Fund, called yesterday's announcement from Wal-Mart had made a "bold move".

And, certainly, Wal-Mart seems to be leading the charge among the world's leading retailers to reduce the industry's impact on the environment.

However, there will, undoubtedly, be concerns over how Wal-Mart's plans will affect suppliers.

In the wake of its announcement in the US yesterday, Wal-Mart held a webchat to answer questions on its plans.

When asked whether it would "press" suppliers to make "sacrificies", the retailer said its projects would "closely involve" suppliers and would, at the end of the day, help its vendors save money.

Wal-Mart, however, stayed tight-lipped when just-food asked the retailer if a supplier's commitment (or otherwise) to the environmental cause would be a deciding factor in whether certain brands would be listed or pulled.

Now more than ever, with Wal-Mart apparently making the environment a priority, suppliers need to stay on the right side of the environmental debate.


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