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This report from Five Winds International examines the activities of retailers to determine if they are taking significant steps to increase the number of greener products on their shelves.

From the introduction to the report:

Stories abound about retailers "going green" by installing solar panels, shipping products in more fuel-efficient ways, and adopting other cost saving measures. But it was Walmart's July 2009 announcement about a supplier assessment questionnaire and sustainable product index that elevated these stories into the executive suites of consumer goods companies.

With the help of this announcement, the retail sector became a pivot point for corporate sustainability, as the world's largest retailer sought to green its own operations and stock its shelves with products sourced from suppliers who deliver greener consumer goods.

Walmart is not the first retailer to put forth supplier requirements for sustainable products and packaging. IKEA has sought to use wood from responsibly managed forests since 1992 and Costco has worked with suppliers over the last two years to increase packaging recyclability.

The difference is that Walmart's announcement is indicative of a growing interest within the retail sector to stock shelves with green products, and it is an interest driven by customer preference and profits.

The report offers a three-step, practical approach for companies to get started with sustainability programs, as well as five rules of thumb for managing your programs once they're underway.

This is the latest in a series of reports written by Five Winds International on retail and sustainability, and published by GreenBiz.com. The other reports in the series are: "Retail: A Pivot Point for Sustainability and "Retail: A Sustainability Benchmark. More information about Five Winds International's work on sustainability is online at FiveWinds.com.