Fortune: Wal-Mart's Sustainability Plans Coming to Fruition

Wal-Mart's Global Responsibility Report

Sam's Club CEO Rosalind Brewer told attendees to Fortune magazine's "Brainstorm Green" conference in California that shoppers soon will begin seeing the benefits of Wal-Mart's sustainability goals.

Wal-Mart Stores Inc. CEO Mike Duke unveiled the retailer's "sustainability index" in 2009. The goal: greater transparency so consumers could make informed choices about the products they purchase.

The first two steps of the process involved the retailer gathering information from vendors about the sustainability of products they sell, then using that data to create a one-stop source on just how "green" certain products are.

Now, Wal-Mart is close to the third step: making the data available to consumers. Brewer says Wal-Mart is looking to launch a pilot system offering product sustainability information to consumers within the next 12 months.

Fortune asks:

That's fine, but will it change consumer behavior? There's evidence that it will, Brewer said, especially for Sam's Club members, who are, in general, more affluent than the average Wal-Mart consumer. Sam's Club customers are willing to spend on premium products such as Greek yogurt, grass-fed beef, and organic milk on a consistent basis, a surprising trend considering the current economic environment.

At the conference, Brewer also talked about how Wal-Mart wants to achieve enough sustainability to pass big savings along to customers -- to the tune of $1 billion by 2020.

Meanwhile, Wal-Mart has issued its latest report on all other aspects of what it calls its "global responsbility," in its annual "Global Responsibility Report," which you can download here.

Triple Pundit, a site that looks at how companies meet ecological, social and economic goals, summarizes Wal-Mart's 2013 achievements here. It said Wal-Mart exceeded its goal of reducing global plastic shopping bag waste by 33 percent, eliminating about 10 billion bags. It also made strides in energy efficiency with Chinese suppliers.

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