Advertising Age, April 23, 2012
After years of leading the sustainability charge for much of the retail world and its supplier base, Wal-Mart Stores is finding that progress can be slow, even though it commands the most purchasing clout in the world. Walmart’s annual Sustainability Report, released last week, highlighted progress in waste reduction and renewable energy, as well as in creating a “Great for You” nutritional label and a sustainability index to help the company’s buyers evaluate purchases in 100 categories, from laundry detergent to home electronics.
Jeffrey Hollender, co-founder and former CEO of green-cleaning company Seventh Generation, joined Walmart’s sustainability bandwagon in 2009, when — after years of refusing — he finally allowed the brand to be distributed in its stores.
Mr. Hollender left Seventh Generation a year later, and last month he fell off that bandwagon with a post on the Triple Pundit blog.
“Was Walmart ever serious?” Mr. Hollender asked. “Yes. I’ve looked Lee Scott in the eyes — he was a believer.” But from the day Mr. Duke became CEO in 2009 “the initiatives that Lee Scott championed but never saw come to fruition stalled and then slowly unraveled,” he wrote.
In addition, a report last month from the nonprofit Institute for Local Self-Reliance faulted Walmart for dragging its feet in instituting the index, reducing waste and converting to renewable energy.