Walmart Steps It Up

Walmart is leading the way when it comes to implementing what are known as green scoring tools to evaluate the goods it sells at retail.

The company first began looking into green scoring five years ago when it announced a three-pronged effort in the sustainability arena. The goals were 1) selling products that are safe both for people and their environment, 2) moving to zero waste, and 3) using 100% renewable energy.

Since then, Walmart has implemented a number of programs, including Sustainability 360, which involves suppliers, customers, and staff; and introduced several “Sustainable Value Networks,” that resulted in representatives from agencies, universities, suppliers, government, and Walmart itself addressing everything from sustainable buildings to waste and packaging.

A year ago, Walmart announced its Sustainable Product Innovation, defined as a tool to help all parties involved—vendors, retailers, and consumers—weigh the sustainability of a given product. As part of that, suppliers were required to complete a 15-question sustainability assessment.

The next step was organization of the Sustainabilty Consortium, a group of scientists and engineers that gather and will maintain information about products’ life cycles. The goal: to create a rating system to label products for consumers.

Tied to these programs is the green scoring tool the company started using last year, when Walmart partnered with WERCS Ltd. (Worldwide Environmental Regulatory Compliance Systems) of Albany, N.Y.,

As WERCS president Lou DeSorbo told PTSM Magazine, “This green scoring provides a benefit to all those involved in a given supply chain,” says DeSorbo. “A company selling products is able to systematically and quickly evaluate the greenness or sustainability of a given product,” he says. “In turn, the supplier receives quantitative information in assessing the sustainability of its products, which in turn can be used by a chemical supplier in evaluating the greenness of the chemicals it supplies. The result is that it provides transparency in the supply chain on the issue of sustainability.”