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Change the World

Photo: Courtesy of Walmart




The nation’s biggest retailer flexes its muscles to make its supply chain greener.

Walmart is using its mammoth clout as the nation’s largest retailer to push its tens of thousands of suppliers to gradually get rid of controversial chemicals, like the formaldehyde in wood resin–based products in about 90,000 household items. And the move has inspired competitors, including Target, to also make similar efforts. So far, Walmart says, its suppliers have removed almost all of the priority chemicals from the products it sells.

The changes are a logical extension of Walmart’s ­longer-term sustainability campaign. As of last count, the retailer was successfully diverting 82% of materials that used to be considered waste away from landfills, compared with 64% just a few years ago. And green-­consciousness isn’t incompatible with success: These initiatives haven’t ­prevented the retailer from racking up three years in a row of growing U.S. comparable sales. The planet-­conscious push is also undoubtedly helpful at a time when Walmart is looking to broaden its customer base, particularly among environmentally focused ­millennials.

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