Normally, Wal-Mart holds court. But to kick-start its sustainability index, Wal-Mart took the unusual step of traveling to the Cincinnati headquarters of competitor Kroger to talk up the effort.
“Having Wal-Mart go to a meeting at Kroger’s headquarters and talk about the sustainability index was a first,” said Matt Kistler, senior vice president for sustainability at Wal-Mart, at a recent Grocery Manufacturers Association meeting, reports Supermarket News.
Kistler credited the GMA with helping to coordinate the meeting with Kroger.
The sustainability index may prompt a new line of thinking at Wal-Mart, which has built its business on selling the cheapest products available.
Kistler said the retailer is considering products based on total system costs, not simply individual product costs.
“We may pay more for packaging because it ships products better and has recyclable value,” he said in the article.
With the creation of a consortium to define the index, Wal-Mart went to extra lengths to be transparent and inclusive with its sustainability index. Wal-Mart invited competitors Costco and Target, along with Kroger, to join the consortium.
The consortium will be led by Jon Johnson, who holds the Walton professorship in sustainability at the University of Arkansas, along with Jay Golden, an assistant professor in the school of sustainability at Arizona State. Among major suppliers said to be involved are Unilever, Procter & Gamble, Tyson, General Mills and Tyson, among others.
To ensure that companies faithfully report their emissions, suppliers to Wal-Mart will be required to report their emissions through the Carbon Disclosure Project.