24 October 2008 | Andy Allen
Wal-Mart has demanded its suppliers meet environmental and social standards in its effort to build a more responsible supply chain.
During a summit in China last week, the US retailer announced a new supplier agreement, which will require factories to comply with environmental and social standards in the countries in which they operate.
Chinese suppliers will be asked to phase in the scheme by 2009 and it will be expanded to cover the retailer's vendors worldwide by 2011.
Wal-Mart also called for partners to improve energy efficiency and use fewer natural resources. It has revealed plans to partner with suppliers to improve energy efficiency by 20 per cent in the top 200 factories it sources from in China by 2012.
First-tier suppliers will also have to source 95 per cent of their goods and services from factories that receive high ratings on social and environmental standards by 2012.
The company added that by 2009 it would expand requirements so certain groups of its suppliers would have to provide names and locations of the factories they use to make the product they are selling.
Lee Scott, president and CEO of Wal-Mart Stores, said: "Maintaining the trust of our customers is tied hand in hand with improving the quality of our supplier factories and their products. Cheating on the quality of products is the same as cheating our customers and we will not tolerate that at Wal-Mart."