Covering the global responsibility activities of Walmart and the Walmart Foundation, and the information reported from grantees, suppliers and others, for the fiscal year 2018 (February 1, 2017 to January 31, 2018), Walmart recently released its 232 pages long eleventh annual ‘2018 Global Responsibility Report’. The company plans to achieve ‘zero waste’ in its American, Japanese, Canadian, and British supply chains by 2025. It has also set a goal to be powered by 50 per cent renewable sources by 2025 and has currently achieved 28 per cent of the same. With such impressive targets and work that have been done so far, this report explains Walmart’s efforts for being sustainable.
Trying to become the most trusted retailer and aiming to enhance the sustainability of operations and value chains, Walmart claims that by the end of 2017, 78 percent of global waste will be diverted from landfills. In FY 2018, over US $ 200 billion in sales of its US goods were from suppliers that participated in the Sustainability Index. As far as apparel is concerned, it has prioritised produce in Bangladesh. The report describes in detail how Alliance for Bangladesh Worker Safety is working aggressively in Bangladesh RMG industry (In 2013, Walmart helped to form the Alliance).
With regards to its stakeholders and their environmental, social, and governance (ESG) priorities, understanding Walmart’s standards, responsible sourcing, emissions, deforestation, water, waste, safe and healthy products; and opportunity for diverse suppliers are the main points. Walmart is pursuing with suppliers and others in apparel and textiles including promoting safer working conditions, encouraging responsible recruitment practices, collaborating with industry stakeholders and setting expectations for responsible labour practices with suppliers. To ensure transparency in this product category, Sustainability Index and Higg Index are being used by the company.
For improving practices in the textile and apparel value chain, Walmart is supporting efforts across the textile value chain to help improve sustainability while delivering high-quality apparel, towels, and other fabric products which cover sustainable cotton and sustainable mills. For sustainable mills, it launched the Mill Sustainability Program in October 2016 with 10 suppliers and their mill partners to improve environmental-impact areas of the mill. Since the program’s launch, the participation has expanded to suppliers representing over 40 per cent of its U.S. sales volume for apparel and home textiles. The company is challenging suppliers to deliver Every Day Low True Cost (EDLTC) products that are more sustainable—without raising the price. For example, Hanes Max Cushion Crew Socks, are made with 20 per cent recycled Repreve polyester in an efficient facility that derives an average 70 per cent of its energy from renewable sources in 2017. To engage customers in these products, the company will be soon highlighting the key sustainability attributes of the EDLTC story alongside the product.
Suppliers, Sourcing, and Sustainability
Overall, Walmart is associated with 1,00,000 suppliers across the globe but unlike many top brands and retailers, its supplier list is not made public. In this report, the company explains its stand, stating, “It is due to proprietary information and confidentiality restrictions, but we remain committed to providing transparency about our efforts to promote the dignity of workers in the global supply chain. In 1992, we formally launched our Responsible Sourcing Program to establish its expectations for suppliers and their facilities with regard to operating sustainably and responsibly in a way that protects worker dignity. Today, the company has nearly 190 Responsible Sourcing associates around the world working with our suppliers and enforcing its standards.”
In FY 2018, its Responsible Sourcing team opened more than 500 cases involving allegations of supply-chain misconduct. Each allegation is reviewed and may be referred to the Responsible Sourcing Investigations team or other compliance teams within Walmart. Walmart even worked with Stronger Together to create new e-learning modules to help suppliers understand the nature of forced labour in supply chains and to identify possible indicators and risk factors. The success of such efforts led it to collaborate with other expert organisations over the last year to develop training on additional topics which it hopes to launch in FY 2019.
The Walmart Foundation provided a grant of close to US $ 1.2 million to Verité, Inc. in FY 2018 to help enhance protections for workers. The grant will help implement a program to identify barriers and challenges for responsible recruitment in both- the formal and informal sectors, as well as the conditions necessary for responsible recruitment to take root. Verité, Inc. will leverage data-sharing technology to stimulate market demand for responsible recruitment. The project will focus on three high-risk sectors in south-east Asia, including apparel.
- With an aim to help Indian women develop their personal and professional skills to build robust businesses, Walmart Inc. funded the second year of the Women Entrepreneurship Development Program (WEDP), managed by WEConnect International. Last year, the WEDP in India trained 32 WOB’s (women-owned businesses), 11 of which were on-board as suppliers to Walmart India.
- Walmart India earned a spot in the 100 Best Companies for Women in India, an initiative led by AVTAR and Working Mother Media.
- Walmart India expanded its use of rooftop solar power to 90 per cent of its buildings in FY 2017.
“I’m encouraged by the progress we’ve already made in our long-term aspiration, be it creating economic opportunity for our associates and the people in our supply chain, further enhancing the sustainability of our operations and the supply chain, and strengthening the communities where we operate. We’ve invested in higher starting wages and training for Walmart associates. We were the first retailer to set science-based targets for greenhouse gas emissions reduction, including launching Project GigatonTM, which is an initiative to work with suppliers to remove 1 billion metric tonnes or a gigaton of emissions from our supply chain by 2030. We’re proud of this progress, but we know we can do more to create shared value and earn the trust of all our stakeholders,” proudly stated Doug McMillon, President and CEO, Walmart Inc.
“Our approach to ESG issues goes beyond minimising our own footprint or mitigating risk. We take a more assertive approach: sparking collective action to transform the retail sector for environmental, social and economic sustainability,” said Kathleen McLaughlin, CSO, Walmart Inc. and President, Walmart Foundation