Sleep time is a sustainability issue

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Walmart is demanding that its suppliers of laptop computers set them up so that by default they go into sleep mode after ten minutes of inactivity.

Nit-picking? Perhaps. But Walmart reckons it will eliminate about 200,000 tonnes of greenhouse gas emissions. And  it highlights the approach being adopted by the world’s largest retailer to drive supply chain sustainability.

Now, Walmart is pushing the sustainability up the supply chain agenda in China  with a $2m donation to The Sustainability Consortium.

“Today I’m proud to announce a series of steps and commitments that will make Walmart’s supply chain, in the United States, here in China, and around the world, more sustainable,” said Mike Duke, president and CEO of Wal-Mart Stores.

By the end of 2017, Walmart will buy 70 per cent of the goods it sells in US stores only from suppliers in the United States, China, and around the world who use the The Sustainability Consortium Index to evaluate and share the sustainability of their products. This change will involve suppliers who produce goods in categories where the Index is available.

Walmart is a leading force in The Sustainability Consortium which includes many of the worlds leading manufacturers and retailers – along with governmental organisations such as DEFRA in the UK.

The consortium has set three strategic objectives for the expansion into China. The first is to roll out its standardised framework for the assessment and communication of sustainability-related information in China.

It also wants to build relationships with Chinese manufacturers and retailers enabling it to expand research to other product categories, exchange best practices and knowledge with Chinese stakeholders and, gather more regionally specific knowledge about social and environmental issues and improvement opportunities. The third objective is  a training programme for Chinese factory managers and owners.

Over the past three years Walmart has been working  on integrating the Sustainability Index into its supply chain. It now covers more than 100 categories, and the retailer’s merchandise buyers are now using the index in regular buying decisions.

Mike Duke made it clear that Walmart’s intention was to drive progress faster and scale its work to make factories more socially and environmentally sustainable, reduce energy and water usage, and eliminate harmful emissions into rivers and the air.

Ask member of the public what they think sustainability is all about and they will probably talk about windfarms and electric cars. But it’s a fair bet that much of the progress will come as a  result of this kind detailed work in the supply chain.

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