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Walmart Case Study: Encouraging green consumption in retail

Environmental sustainability is compatible with economic growth and an essential underpinning of social and economic sustainability in the long term. As part of CCICED’s mission to exchange ideas in support of China’s vision of an ecological civilization and sustainable development, we offer this case study regarding Walmart’s approach to sustainable product supply chains. We developed this case study as part of the Green Consumption Special Policy Studies Group; it illustrates some of the tools used by Walmart to encourage more sustainable production of consumer goods and to help consumers identify more sustainable products.

Summary

Green consumption is compatible with economic growth, and it can be accelerated through supply-side actions (improving sustainability of products and product supply chains) as well as demand-side actions (e.g., customer engagement through initiative such as labeling). This Walmart case study illustrates supply-side and demand-side actions that can accelerate green consumption.

Background

According to research conducted by The Sustainability Consortium (TSC), consumption of food and other consumer goods contributes significantly to climate, waste, and other social and environmental issues. Improving the sustainability of consumer products not only helps address such issues, it can contribute to economic prosperity by strengthening the resilience of product supply chains; increasing cost efficiency and productivity; improving product quality, cost, and availability; and enhancing public trust.

As a retailer, Walmart believes increasing the proportion of “green” products people consume depends not only on raising consumer awareness and demand, but also on improving the sustainability of products by building supplier capabilities and enhancing transparency. This case study illustrates such actions through discussion of the following:

  • Walmart’s approach to sustainable supply chains
  • The Sustainability Index System (THESIS): Helping suppliers prioritize and measure efforts to improve consumer product sustainability
  • Project Gigaton: Helping improve transparency and build capability among suppliers to reduce emissions in product supply chains
  • Certifications: Encouraging more sustainable farming, fishing, and manufacturing practices and providing the basis to inform customers
  • Labeling: Informing customers about sustainability attributes or how to use a product/packaging to enhance sustainability

Read the full case study.

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