(Beijing - October 22, 2008) Environmental Defense Fund (EDF) today engaged hundreds of top Wal-Mart (NYSE: WMT) suppliers in a vital discussion about business practice improvements with environmental and bottom-line benefits, at the retailer’s first ever Sustainability Summit in Beijing. EDF is also going to be working directly with these manufacturers on a green supply chain project initiated in conjunction with China’s trade and government leadership.
At the summit, Wal-Mart unveiled new, specific goals for its efforts to build a world-class sustainable supply chain, to sell sustainable products worldwide and to become a best-in-class sustainable retailer in China. Distinguished by close work with Wal-Mart in Bentonville, Ark., and by more than a decade of collaboration with China’s business and government leaders, EDF joined a breakout session on pollution prevention, one of three primary topics on the summit agenda. Panelists highlighting business success in proactive environmental management included Daniel Dudek, EDF chief economist and head of its Beijing office; Marjorie Yang, chairman of multinational textile manufacturer Esquel; Hu Tao, academic chair, Policy Research Center, China Ministry of Environmental Protection and Ma Jun, director, The Institute of Public & Environmental Affairs.
“EDF may know the road from Bentonville to Beijing better than any other NGO, and that helps us see the potential for Wal-Mart’s supply chain to reduce greenhouse gas emissions,” said Gwen Ruta, vice president, Corporate Partnerships, Environmental Defense Fund. “Suppliers are a crucial component of Wal-Mart’s environmental impact, since its own efficiency efforts won’t keep pace with continued growth. Wal-Mart’s best chance for engaging suppliers in China and worldwide is to take a holistic approach to products and supplier relationships, showing them problem areas and the environmental and business benefits of addressing them.”
EDF will also launch its “greening the supply chain” project in China on October 23. With participation from Wal-Mart, EDF will facilitate a discussion in Qingdao between multinational companies and their suppliers on “Circular Economy and Greening the Supply Chain” during the first ever “China International Circular Economy Expo,” which is endorsed by China’s State Council and eight government ministries. EDF is hosting this discussion in association with the China Association of Small and Medium Enterprises (CASME), which represents some 70,000 Chinese suppliers, and with the research arms of the Ministry of Commerce and Ministry of Environmental Protection (MEP). EDF’s Beijing office focuses on strengthening enforcement of environmental laws and regulations, establishing the foundations for market-based environmental policies and enhancing public participation in environmental decision making. EDF’s work has been recognized for its contributions to China’s development with the highest national award given to foreigners.
In addition to China supply chain issues, EDF has been working with Wal-Mart since 2005 in areas central to EDF’s mission, including global warming, seafood, packaging and toxic materials. EDF and Wal-Mart recently announced a partnership to develop strategies and monitor Wal-Mart’s efforts to reduce plastic shopping bag waste by an average of one-third per store from 2008 levels by 2013.
Environmental Defense Fund, a leading national nonprofit organization, represents more than 500,000 members. Since 1967, Environmental Defense Fund has linked science, economics, law and innovative private-sector partnerships to create breakthrough solutions to the most serious environmental problems. EDF has a 20-year track record of success in partnering with business. To maintain its independence and credibility, EDF accepts no money from corporate partners; generous individuals and foundations fund its work. For more information, visit www.EDF.org.