Wal-Mart is planning a new environmental labeling requirement for its suppliers. The future label information may provide the product’s carbon footprint, the gallons of water used to create it, and the air pollution left in its wake. Rosabeth Moss Kanter, professor at the Harvard Business School wrote,
Wal-Mart's unilateral decision to put its purchasing and communication power behind going green also shows that a single company using its unique clout can accelerate public action to reduce greenhouse gases and reverse climate change. By rolling out an environmental labelling program disclosing to consumers the environmental costs of making products sold at Wal-Mart, the $401 billion retail behemoth has transformed green standards from nice-to-have to must-have.
The beauty of the Wal-Mart innovation is that it doesn't ask anyone to change anything except the information that is provided and received. If polluters want to keep polluting, they are free to do so as long as they provide that data on their Wal-Mart labels. And if consumers choose to buy from polluters whose labels they can read, they are free to do so. In theory. In practice, of course, we know that suppliers will change their practices to avoid embarrassing disclosures.
Read Rosabeth Moss Kanter whole article, Wal-Mart's Environmental Game-Changer, here.
Kanter is the author of SuperCorp: How Vanguard Companies Create Innovation, Profits, Growth, and Social Good.