How to Respond When Retailers Demand Sustainability

How to Respond When Retailers Demand Sustainability

With the launch of Walmart's sustainability scorecard and a growing interest in the retail world for greener products, suppliers need to know how to anticipate and respond to retailers' sustainability demands.

"Retail: A Pivot Point for Sustainability," a new report from Five Winds International and GreenBiz Reports, looks at the current situation of retailer, consumer and government demands for products with positive environmental and social benefits.

While Walmart is the first to create a method for scoring its supplies on such topics as energy, waste, water and ethical production, it also has one of the broadest reaches with the ability to influence the products provided by suppliers and the products available to an enormous amount of consumers.

The report also asks some important questions about the accuracy and viability of some retailers' actions.

"Can low cost, quality and sustainability go hand in hand? We suspect not, but for now retailers like Walmart and IKEA are driving a lot of action in this area," it says.

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And although a retail company might not appear to be the best source for determining what makes a product or supplier sustainable, the report points out that "Walmart wisely engaged an army of NGO's, academics, leading suppliers and government regulators to help them design a system for rating suppliers' sustainability performance."

To help suppliers and producers grapple with current and future sustainability demands, the report offer five pieces of advice:

1. Assess the world around you and your place in it
2. Get your management team on board and set your strategic direction
3. Hardwire sustainability into your core business processes
4. Engage and communicate
5. Circle back to Step 1

Check out the report, available here, for a deeper look at Five Winds' advice.