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Walmart Sustainability Index ‘Ahead of Schedule’

Walmart yesterday said its Live Better Scorecard – the company’s sustainability index to assess the environmental impacts of its products – is ahead of schedule, but did not say when it would be completed.

The company also made announcements yesterday related to its monitoring of beef suppliers, and the installation of its biggest solar array to date.

Andrea Thomas, senior vice president of Walmart sustainability, said at the company’s fall Global Milestone Meeting that the retail giant had already met its goal to roll out the scorecard to buyers in more than 100 categories, will add another 100 categories by the end of the year and an additional couple hundred next year. Its original goal was to have 100 categories by the end of 2012.

Walmart has not announced a specific date for all categories and says it depends on when The Sustainability Consortium, which is producing the Live Better Scorecard, completes the assessments.

In 2009 when Walmart introduced the idea of its Live Better Scorecard, many assumed everything in the store would soon have a label detailing its attributes like carbon inputs and recycled content. The company has since faced criticism for not rolling out the tool soon enough or making it comprehensive enough.

At yesterday’s meeting, Thomas said Walmart is “at the end of the beginning” of the process.

On a related note, Dorn Wenninger, Walmart vice president GFS West, said that this year, 30 percent of all of the company’s produce suppliers will participate in Walmart’s produce sustainability assessment, launched in 2011.

Also at the meeting, Walmart Brazil announced a new proprietary monitoring system for beef in its supply chain. The program, being piloted this year, monitors Brazilian beef suppliers to prevent sourcing from producers that contribute to the deforestation of the Amazon.

Seventeen percent of the Brazilian Amazon is already deforested, and beef production accounts for more than 60 percent of that deforestation, according to Camilla Valverde, Walmart Brazil’s sustainability director.

At the meeting, Valverde pledged that Walmart will have 50 percent of its beef supply chain in Brazil monitored by the end of 2012, 75 percent by the end of 2013, and 100 percent by the end of 2014.

In other Walmart news, the company yesterday announced its largest solar installation to date: a 3.3 MW system atop the Buckeye distribution center (pictured) near Phoenix, Ariz., with more than 14,000 solar panels on a 1,000,000-square-foot building and parking canopies.

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