Is This the End of Greenwashing for Consumer Products?

After watching Walmart’s Sustainability Milestone meeting, I am still convinced that the index they’re developing could be the end of greenwashing as we know it. They’ve engaged a broad enough range of engaged stakeholders, from Environmental Defense Fund to Business for Social Responsibility to their competitors that this could truly succeed. All speakers talked enough about the importance of full life-cycle analysis and transparency. The level of transparency is laudable, but there is still a question as to how well these metrics will be monitored. While the retailer is working closely with their suppliers to help them reduce their emissions, other changes require better management practices, which are harder to monitor.

By October, their US suppliers (Proctor & Gamble, Johnson & Johnson, etc.) will have answered 15 questions related to life-cycle analysis of their products. These questions mainly focus on GHG emissions and labor practices throughout the entire supply chain. Most are yes/no, and Walmart will use these answers to determine what needs to be addressed first. The second step in this massive project, and the one where Walmart wants to be sure all stakeholders are involved, entails actually creating and maintaining the database of information about all these products. Mike Duke, CEO, explained they want to spur development of an open platform that all retailers and manufacturers can develop.

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