Sustainability has been high on Walmart’s radar for the past six years. In July 2009, the company made a transformative investment through Arizona State University in the future of sustainable business practices and supply chain management. It came in the form of the lead gift to launch the Sustainability Consortium (TSC), an initiative jointly administered by ASU and the University of Arkansas.
Today, Walmart continues to invest in the development of the consortium. The company’s most recent commitment was made in January 2011, and significant returns have already been seen. More than 80 investors from around the world — including several retail companies like Walmart — have joined the consortium. Additionally, collaborative research efforts have led to progress on the development of a system for assessing the impact of consumer products and a standardized method for communicating those impacts.
“The consortium helps us get at the heart of one of our major sustainability goals — selling products that sustain people and our environment,” says Jeff Rice, director of sustainability for Walmart. “We knew that in order to make progress on this goal, it would require strong collaboration among suppliers, supply chain managers, academia, nongovernmental organizations and other retailers. The consortium provides that collaborative space, and that’s why we’re pleased to support it.”
The TSC is an independent organization of diverse global participants that work collaboratively to build a scientific foundation that drives innovation to improve consumer product sustainability. Using Life Cycle science and state-of-the-art research methods, the consortium develops strategies and tools to drive a new generation of sustainable products and supply chains.
“Our partnership with ASU through the consortium makes a lot of sense,” says Rice. “Walmart has a longstanding relationship with ASU, and it’s well-known that ASU is a leader in sustainability and applied sustainability research. It’s very exciting for us as a company to partner with ASU on an initiative like this because it allows us to collaborate with leaders around the world. It’s also extremely rewarding to know that the work we do through the consortium will inform how business is done for generations to come.”
Read more about the Sustainability Consortium at sustainabilityconsortium.org, and learn more about Walmart’s sustainability initiatives on Walmart’s sustainability blog, The Green Room.