The head of Wal-Mart says the world's biggest retailer is moving fast to ensure it’s well positioned with eco-friendly supply chains, products, stores and delivery systems to meet growing consumer demand for environmentally sustainable products.

Mike Duke, president and CEO of Wal-Mart Stores Inc, believes this shift will also see increased scrutiny of the environmental footprint of  products before shoppers decide to buy, or not.

 “Wal-Mart has taken sustainability very seriously, it’s now a critical part of our DNA,” Duke told world business and political leaders at the World Economic Forum in Davos.

“In the future, I think the customer will want to know what is the sustainability of every product,” he said.

The conglomerate serves over 200m customers each week, and in fiscal 2010 notched up sales of $405bn – including apparel, footwear and accessories – in its 8,800 retail units spread across 15 nations worldwide.

In anticipation of this coming trend, Duke said: “We’re making, with others in the industry, what we’re calling a sustainability trading index…and the customer would understand the footprint, the knowledge, the background of any product that they purchase.”

He said the knowledge will create “even more responsibility for businesses, and I applaud this, and it’s going to play a big, big role.”

A survey of 1,200 chief executives in 69 nations conducted in the last quarter of 2010 by PriceWaterhouse Coopers (PWC) and published last week, found that 64% of CEOs considered developing environmentally-friendly products or services “an important part” of their companies’ innovation strategy.

The PWC survey also revealed that 72% of CEOs support growth that is “economically, socially, and environmentally sustainable.”

Duke said every one of Wal-Mart’s associates worldwide would be engaged in creating a more sustainable business and a more sustainable environment.

“We have over 2m associates that work for our company, including many in emerging markets,” he said and stressed: “We want every one to be sustainable.”

Wal-Mart’s merchandising group, he said, works very closely with its suppliers to create sustainable products and to eliminate waste in packaging. Its stores are also limiting waste and creating energy efficient delivery to customers.