Walmart has pledged to source 100% more sustainable cotton

Walmart has pledged to source 100% more sustainable cotton

Retail giant Walmart has outlined a number of new sustainability goals for apparel sold in its US stores, including plans to source more sustainable fibres and working with suppliers to reduce its manufacturing impact.

The retailer announced the new targets at its 2019 Sustainability Milestone Summit yesterday (10 April), during an update on its responsible sourcing work alongside NGOs, industry groups, governments, and suppliers to improve the lives of workers in the global apparel supply chain with a particular focus on women.

The goals, which Walmart says reinforce its commitment to sustainable textiles, fall into two categories; sourcing more sustainable fibres, and reducing manufacturing impact.

As part of the first target, the retailer has pledged to increase the use of recycled polyester fibre, setting a goal of using 50% recycled content by 2025 and to source 100% more sustainable cotton.

In addition, as part of its bid to reduce manufacturing impact, by 2022, Walmart US stores will source apparel and home textile products only from suppliers working with textile mills that use the Sustainable Apparel Coalition's Higg Index Facility Environmental Module (FEM) – a self-assessment tool that helps factories assess their sustainability performance and share results with supply chain partners in areas including water use, waste, emissions and chemicals management.

Meanwhile, Walmart will also prioritise sustainable chemistry, setting a goal to reduce the discharge of priority chemicals from the textile manufacturing process.

Project Gigaton

During the summit, the retail giant also announced Walmart Canada is joining Project Gigaton, the platform through which the retailer is working with suppliers to avoid 1bn metric tonnes –  a gigaton – of emissions from global value chains by 2030.

Canada is the company's third international market to work with suppliers towards emissions reductions.

In the first two years of Project Gigaton, Walmart said many suppliers are already delivering results on their goals and report avoiding more than 93m metric tonnes of emissions toward the one gigaton goal. 

In an effort to make it easier to add to the more than 1,000 suppliers already participating in the platform, Walmart also plans to publish its Project Gigaton Calculators, which are designed by Walmart and NGOs for suppliers to use in reporting progress toward the Project Gigaton goal.

"We are encouraged by the engagement of our suppliers in Project Gigaton," said Kathleen McLaughlin, senior vice president and chief sustainability officer for Walmart Inc. "To achieve our ambitious climate goals, we aim to expand and deepen that engagement. The progress to date shows how companies can contribute to climate action through practical actions all along the product supply chain. Ultimately, building sustainable supply chains requires collective action from everyone – not only our associates and suppliers, but customers, business in general, and civil society."

Walmart also outlined progress towards its goal of being powered by 100% renewable energy – and to power 50% of its operations with renewable energy by the end of 2025. Over the past year, the retailer completed contracts for 136 new solar and wind projects, which will supply the company an additional estimated 2.14bn kilowatt hours of renewable energy annually – the equivalent electricity usage of over 260,000 homes in a year.