Canada first market outside US to see Wal-Mart index

Canada first market outside US to see Wal-Mart index

Wal-Mart has launched the index it uses to measure the "sustainability" of its suppliers in Canada.

The retail giant's local arm announced the move yesterday (10 February) among a series of initiatives it believes will make its business - and those of its suppliers - more sustainable.

Wal-Mart's index was first unveiled in the US last year and David Cheesewright, president and CEO of the retailer's Canadian business, insisted the scheme would give its supply chain more "transparency".

"Customers want value and quality when buying products," said Cheesewright. "They also want to know that products are being made in a responsible way.

"Once launched, the Sustainable Product Index will give customers transparency into the entire lifecycle of the products they buy, so they know they're safe, made-well and produced responsibly."

Wal-Mart's Canadian arm will send out questionnaires to suppliers this summer to "evaluate their sustainability efforts" on issues like energy use and "material efficiency".

The retailer will then look to create a "database" that houses data on the "lifecycle" of products. A "consortium" of other retailers, universities, NGOs and suppliers will develop the database.

The development and launch of an index "tool" to help consumers identify a "sustainable" product and a "rating system" will come next.

Wal-Mart said the timetable for the database, consortium and rating tool will be "determined later this year".