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Walmart to Help Fund Green Supply Chain Research

Walmart has awarded the World Resources Institute (WRI) a $420,000 grant to help create a set of accounting tools for companies to measure the carbon footprint of their supply chains.

The WRI will use the grant to beef up its Green Supply Chain initiative and to produce the "Green Standards Guide," a resource book examining environmental certifications, WRI said Thursday.

The announcement coincides with the beginning of the first phase of Walmart's Sustainability Index initiative. The retailer's top-tier suppliers in various product categories began reporting the environmental impacts of their operations on Thursday, such as greenhouse gas emissions, water and waste data.

"Sustainability is becoming a driver of business strategy for smart companies," WRI President Jonathan Lash said in a statement. "Sustainability trends affect competitiveness, costs, regulatory risk, and market position. The companies that reduce emissions along their supply chains will capture new markets with their green offerings while preserving the environment and improving worker health and safety."

Eventually, Walmart wants to collect data from all of its roughly 100,000 suppliers in order to rate the sustainability of consumer products. The company has assembled a Sustainability Consortium of universities, NGOs, government and business interests to help create a lifecycle analysis database that will serve as the basis of future product rankings.

The WRI co-developed the Greenhouse Gas Protocol accounting standard more than 10 years ago with the World Business Council for Sustainable Development.

"The initiative opens up tremendous access and opportunity for companies and other stakeholders to participate in the drafting and piloting of the new product and supply chain accounting tools, which are based on the success of the Greenhouse Gas Protocol Corporate Standard," said Pankaj Bhatia, WRI GHG Protocol Initiative director, said in a statement. "These new standards will provide a framework that companies can use to evaluate a supplier's performance, identify where emissions could be reduced along the supply chain or product life cycle and track the progress of GHG-reduction investments."

The WRI will also use some of the grant money to help Chinese suppliers make their operations more environmental friendly in a partnership with the Institute of Public and Environment Affairs. The WRI will create best practice case studies geared toward Chinese suppliers for issues that include water and air pollution.

Chinese suppliers received another resource last month with the opening of the Institute for Sustainable Communities' (ISC) Environment, Health and Safety Academy. A group of partners, including the Walmart Foundation, chipped in $2.3 million to open a second green supply chain academy next year. Both sites will train more than 2,000 facility managers annually to address environment, health and safety concerns and institutionalize greenhouse gas measurement and reduction.

Photo CC-licensed by Flickr user Marc oh!.

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