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Walmart Sustainability Report: Supplier Scorecards to Launch in 100 Categories this Year

Walmart expects to develop supplier scorecards in up to 100 major product categories by the end of this year, in the latest stage of development for its Sustainability Index, according to the company’s 2012 Global Responsibility Report.

The move follows efforts last year to integrate the index into Walmart’s business. In January 2011 it piloted detailed assessments in six product categories and used these to create category scorecards, which allow its buyers to evaluate supplier performance against the biggest issues and opportunities across their products’ life cycles. The company says it is developing incentives to recognize buyers and suppliers who are performing well.

Walmart first announced its Sustainability Index, a wide-reaching effort to assess and improve the sustainability of its products, in July 2009. The company developed the research and metrics behind the index with help from The Sustainability Consortium and its more than 90 members, including suppliers, academics, NGOs and other retailers.

In March the nonprofit Institute for Local Self-Reliance criticized the company for what it called “little progress” towards development of the sustainability index.

In Walmart’s report – level-checked at GRI application level B – the company also detailed progress against its commitment to help suppliers improve energy efficiency at 200 Chinese factories by the end of 2012. At the end of 2011, 148 factories had achieved a 20 percent reduction in energy consumption per unit of production or revenue, and 313 were making energy efficiency improvements to their facilities, ranging from minor upgrades to major systems improvements.

The company is aiming to eliminate 20 million metric tons of GHG emissions from its global supply chain by the end of 2015, though to date it has only cut about 120,000 metric tons. It says, however, that it has identified projects with the potential to cut another 16 million metric tons. Examples range from a collaboration with a supplier to adjust freezer temperatures for specific cold chain products, to a focus on sustainable palm oil and beef production.

Walmart says its suppliers have saved more than one billion gallons of water over the past two years at U.S. poultry facilities, through recycling water, using low-flow nozzles and other measures. But the company did not give overall water use or consumption figures.

Waste reduction

In 2011, Walmart kept 80.9 percent of waste from its U.S. operations out of landfills, and its waste-reduction efforts returned more than $231 million to the business last year through a combination of increased recycling revenue and decreased expenses. Its stores in China and Brazil diverted 52 percent of operational waste from landfills, and its U.K. chain ASDA now sends zero food waste to landfills.

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