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Wal-Mart Demands Greener Standards Of Factories

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Perhaps the world's biggest, boldest convert to sustainability, and the company about which we're most ambivalent, Wal-Mart announced today its most ambitious green plan yet: to raise environmental and social standards at every factory along its supply chain, just as suppliers in China and elsewhere are already struggling to survive rising costs and lower demand.

Top executives who had come to Beijing for the company's annual sustainability summit told an audience of some 1,000 suppliers (and, to soften the blow, Cameron Diaz) that green practices could be achieved and costs could be reduced through simple initiatives, like reducing packaging and removing harmful chemicals. But the plan is much larger than that: Wal-Mart is insisting on keeping close track of every step of its supply chain, raising product safety and quality standards, and requiring that its top 200 suppliers in China reduce energy by 30 percent over the next two years.

And here's the clincher: By 2012, the big-box retailer, once the scourge of environmentalists, will require suppliers to draw 95 percent of their production from factories that receive the highest ratings in environmental and social responsibility audits.

Read the whole story at Treehugger

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