Bentonville, Ark. — Wal-Mart announced a sweeping series of environmental and humanitarian policy changes that will impact its vendors and suppliers worldwide.
Among the changes president/CEO Lee Scott called for in a speech to more than 7,000 store managers here this week is the goal of making its flat-panel TV assortment 30 percent more energy efficient by 2010, and to carry only Energy Star-rated room air conditioners by that time.
The targets are part of a larger objective to make Wal-Mart’s most energy-intensive products 25 percent more energy efficient within three years, which would save enough electricity to power 3 million homes per year, or the equivalent of 10 million barrels of oil, Scott said.
The energy savings on the TV initiative alone would be enough to power more than 53,000 single-family homes for an entire year, he noted.
“We do not know exactly how we will get there,” he said in a kickoff address to a U.S. stores managers meeting. “We do not even know if our suppliers can make items like hair dryers use 25 percent less energy. But we do know that our approach works — to partner with suppliers, to help customers make better decisions, and to use our business model to drive out waste.”
Scott said that Wal-Mart also intends to keep its environmentally friendly products affordable.
The company will also require all of its global procurers, domestic importers and private-label manufacturers to meet specific environmental, social and quality standards, and in some cases will be willing to pay a premium to those suppliers. Scott said the new standards will be fully implemented within three to five years, and that Wal-Mart will work with other major global retailers to standardize the requirements.
“Our customers want products that make them feel good about their purchases,” Scott said. “They want to walk into our stores and be confident that the products on our shelves are safe and durable. They also want products that are made in a way that is consistent with their own personal values.”