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Wal-Mart pushes for greener manufacturing in China

Wal-Mart, the world’s largest retailer, will hold a meeting of around 1,000 of its Chinese suppliers in an effort to reduce its environmental impact, said Lee Scott, Wal-Mart’s CEO, in an interview with the Financial Times.

The meeting, to be held in October, will in effect globalize Wal-Mart’s efforts to curb its environmental footprint. In recent years the retailer has pushed more energy efficient outlets, promoted compact flourescent light bulbs in consumer-awareness campaigns, and reduced the amount of packaging used for products sold in its stores.

Scott told the Financial Times that the Chinese government is backing sustainability efforts in the country.

“I’m very confident that we are going to see in China more progress than any of us has imagined,” he said. “Part of this is… because the Chinese government has just now really got on the sustainability process as far as understanding what it is gooing to mean for them in the long term. And they’re being really aggressive.”

Over the past few years, China’s central government has launched several “green” intiatives only to see them thwarted at the provincial and munipial level. By going directly to its suppliers with environmental mandates, Wal-Mart may circumvent the issues.

Noting that it accounts for 30 percent of foreign purchasing in China, Wal-Mart argues that its new efforts could spur wider interest in environmental performance among Chinese manufacturers.

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