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Saturday, January 28, 2006

Wal-Mart Dons the Environmental Red Cape and Uses its Monopsony Powers to Promote Truth, Justice, and the American Way

Or is it really Wal-Mart's evil super-store twin up to its old profit maximizing tricks?

Wal-Mart fishes for eco-friendly profile, by Jonathan Birchall and Fiona Harvey, Financial Times: Wal-Mart has committed itself to taking most of the fish it sells in North America from environmentally sound sources, in its latest initiative to improve its much criticised record on environmental and social issues. The world’s largest retailer has pledged that all of its US fresh and frozen fish, excluding farmed fish, will eventually come from fisheries certified as being “sustainable” by the Marine Stewardship Council... Wal-Mart, which operates 900 fish counters, joins a small group of US retailers, including Whole Foods Market and Wild Oats, which source salmon, pollock, lobster and hoki fish from MSC-certified fisheries. ...

Wal-Mart has also established “sustainability networks” that bring its suppliers and its buyers together with concerned non-profit groups, covering products including agricultural products, seafood, and gold and jewellery. Rupert Howes, head of the Marine Stewardship Council, said: “It is hugely significant that Wal-Mart is doing this, and setting a real example to the rest of the industry.”

However, only a small number of fisheries have been certified as sustainable. This means it will take between three and five years for Wal-Mart to achieve its goal. The company has also been showing new interest in improving conditions in garment and footwear factories – another area highlighted by Mr Scott.

But it is still struggling to persuade many of its critics that it is serious about its conversion to the cause of corporate social responsibility. ... However, David Schilling, of the Interfaith Center on Corporate Responsibiity, which has co-ordinated numerous shareholder resolutions critical of Wal-Mart, said critics would watch for genuine changes that went beyond its current propaganda war. ...

Wal-Mart faces considerable challenges if it is to adapt its operations to the range of standards now embraced by some of its rivals. Unlike Nike or Gap, both of which have been active in developing supply chain monitoring, it sells a vast range of merchandise ranging from bananas to diamonds; its supply chain uses 60,000 factories worldwide for its own brand products alone, compared to around 700 at Nike.

    Posted by on Saturday, January 28, 2006 at 12:16 AM in Economics, Environment | Permalink  TrackBack (0)  Comments (4)

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