Walmart U.S. is asking its produce suppliers to endorse the Ethical Charter on Responsible Labor Practices and adopt Integrated Pest Management as a condition of doing business with the retailer.
At the firm’s virtual Sustainability Summit in mid-April, Martin Mundo, senior vice president and general merchandise manager of produce and global produce sourcing for Walmart, said Walmart U.S. is committing to source 100% by the end of 2022 from fresh produce and floral from suppliers who have endorsed the Ethical Charter.
The Ethical Charter on Responsible Labor Practices was adopted in January 2018 by the Produce Marketing Association and the United Fresh Produce Association, and provides, according to the associations, a “neutral reference framework for responsible labor practices.” The charter is based on a foundation of employment law, good management systems and sound occupational safety and health practices, according to the charter’s website.
“We commend those of you who have already endorsed it, and we are asking the rest to stand with us and endorse the charter,” Mundo said in the video. “To publicly endorse the Ethical Charter demonstrates our supplier commitment to workplace safety, respect for worker dignity, compliance with all applicable legal requirements, and a commitment to building coordinated actions across the industry on responsible labor practices.”
“We are very pleased that Walmart is leading the buying community to require all of their fresh produce and floral suppliers to adopt and endorse the Ethical Charter,” said Ed Treacy, PMA vice president of supply chain and sustainability.
“The Ethical Charter was created to be a cross-industry initiative to establish a shared commitment to responsible labor practices. Treating all of our employees with respect and dignity is the right thing to do, and it’s essential to the overall success of our entire industry. To date, we have 96 companies who have endorsed the Ethical Charter,” he said.
“We look forward to the day that the adoption and endorsement of the Ethical Charter is a requirement from all buyers, much like food safety audits have become an industry standard requirement.”
New pollinator commitments by Walmart will further its efforts to help reverse nature loss and ultimately bring the retailer closer to meeting new nature commitments made by Walmart and the Walmart Foundation, the company said.
“We have invited our suppliers, stakeholders and customers to join us on this journey as we continue to take action to help protect our planet,” Mundo said in the video.
He said Walmart U.S. is committing to source 100% of the fresh produce and floral it sells from suppliers that adopt integrated pest management practices, as verified by a third party, by 2025.
Walmart said it will help improve pollinator health and biodiversity in the regions in which the retailer operates.
“These new commitments serve as the largest pollinator health effort from a U.S. grocery retailer to-date, aiming to reduce several pollinator threats through promoting integrated pest management practices and improving and expanding pollinator habitats,” Mundo said in the video. “We are also encouraging fresh produce suppliers to phase out use of chlorpyrifos and nitroguanidine neonicotinoids pesticides (where applicable unless mandated otherwise by law), avoid replacing them with other products with a level I bee precaution rating, and assess and report annual progress.”
In addition, Walmart U.S. will encourage fresh produce suppliers to protect, restore or establish pollinator habitats by 2025 on at least 3% of land they own, operate and/or invest in and report annual progress, he said in the release.
To help educate and engage its customers about pollinator plants for home gardens, Mundo said Walmart U.S. is encouraging suppliers to label pollinator-friendly plants at Walmart’s retail locations. Starting this month, plants that attract pollinators will feature special tags to help customers grow their own pollinator gardens. In total, more than 1.3 million annual and perennial pollinator-promoting plants will carry tags in Walmart stores this spring.
“Driving the scale of our collective pollinator commitments through our supply chain can create industry-leading changes and have a significant positive impact for the future of our planet,” Mundo said in the release.
Packaging also remains a key focus for the retailer’s sustainability efforts. Walmart said at the Sustainability Summit that about 55% of its private brand packaging is recyclable, reusable, or industrial compostable based on supplier reports, with a goal of reaching 100% by 2025.
Walmart is also committed to labeling 100% of its private brand packaging with the How to Recycle label by 2022, the company said.
By TOM KARST