World’s leading retailer, Wal-Mart, has come under fire from environmental, farm and labour groups describing its business model as being “inherently unsustainable.”
Coming down heavily on the Bentonville based retail giant’s commitment on sustainability, almost two dozen organizations including Corporate Ethics International, Friends of the Earth and the Institute for Policy studies pulled it up for using its market power to cut costs at the expense of workers and the environment across the developing world.
“Wal-Mart can change to more efficient light bulbs, but that doesn’t change its carbon footprint or the enormous social consequences of its globally unsustainable business model,” said Ruben Garcia of the pressure group Global Exchange reported just-food.com.
“If we look at its practices internationally, Wal-Mart has used its market power to cut costs at the expense of workers and the environment across the developing world,” said Garcia.
However, the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the retail giant, Lee Scott said the company had made “good progress” on issues including the environment, sourcing and health care. But, he conceded that the company needed to do more.
“Much work remains to achieve the goals we set for ourselves. Our carbon footprint is growing slower, but it is still growing,” Scott said. “We are reducing waste, but we are far from the day when we eliminated waste in our stores. Many of the products on our shelves can be made more sustainable. We are working to become more diverse and build more sustainable sourcing relationship.”
The organizations said the retail giant is using “astronomically unsustainable” amount of fuel and is undermining local economies by refusing to source from local producers who are being cut out of the market.
“Wal-Mart officials claim to be concerned about sustainable livelihoods, but in reality, the company continues to squeeze workers and suppliers in a global ‘race to the bottom’ in wages, benefits and working conditions,” says Trina Tocco, coordinator of the Big Box Collaborative, which produced the report.