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Chemical Supply Chain Embraces Wal-Mart’s Sustainability Goals

The chemical industry approves of Wal-Mart’s sustainability goal to eliminate 20 million tons of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions from the global supply chain by the end of 2015, despite the possibility of additional costs, reports ICIS.com.

Other green initiatives that impact the retailer’s supply chain are the Packaging Scorecard program, rolled out in 2008, and the Sustainability Product Index, introduced last year, to grade suppliers and products on a range of environmental and sustainable factors.

Aimed at products with the highest carbon footprint, Wal-Mart says the emissions reductions can come from any phase of its targeted product life cycles, including raw material sourcing, product and packaging manufacturing, transportation, customer use and end-of-life disposal.

Wal-Mart told ISIS.com the goal is to save the most money, with supplier and customers benefiting from the cost reductions through sustainability.

The American Chemistry Council (ACC) agrees, and says its own members have already implemented initiatives to reduce emissions and energy use from their products and operations, pledging to lower GHG intensity by 18 percent by 2012, from a base year of 1990, according to ISIS.com. So far the industry has exceeded its commitment, reducing carbon intensity by 36 percent.

They have also worked with Wal-Mart on some of the retailer’s sustainability efforts. As an example, Dow Chemical cited in the article its role in the development of Wal-Mart’s packaging scorecard, which targets a packaging reduction of 5 percent by 2013 in the supply chain.

BASF says it was the first chemical company to join the Sustainability Consortium, which is developing scientifically-based sustainability measurement and reporting standards that will serve as the foundation for an index demonstrating product sustainability, and likely for Wal-Mart’s index as well.

Suppliers including Genomatica and NatureWorks also told ISIS.com they are expecting greater demand for green chemistry, and Wal-Mart’s program is one of the most important factors driving demand for these renewable and environmentally-friendly solutions.

However, cost is the biggest prohibitive component, say chemical suppliers. This means the industry has to develop low-cost bio-based chemical intermediates that can be drop-in replacements for existing petrochemical counterparts.

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