Harvard Business Review
February 24, 2015
We all want to buy the best products we can find and afford. But what does “best” actually mean? The ones that offer the best bang for the buck, last the longest, or give us the most pride of ownership? How about a product that minimizes its environmental impacts or tries to make the world a better place? Identifying the companies that make these more “sustainable” products has been nearly impossible… until now.
On Tuesday, the world’s largest retailer took a major and important step toward helping all of us shop smarter. Walmart’s ecommerce site is now labeling 3,000 products, made by more than 100 companies, with a badge that reads “Made by a Sustainability Leader.” For the first time, a major retailer is giving prominent shelf space — albeit virtual — to companies operating in a better way.
The story of how this badge came to be, and the information backing it up, requires some background. In 2009, Walmart was one of several companies that provided seed funding to start The Sustainability Consortium (TSC), jointly run by the University of Arkansas and Arizona State University. TSC has evolved into a collaboration of more than 100 of the world’s largest retailers, consumer product companies, and NGO and academic partners. The corporate members include Coca-Cola, PepsiCo, P&G, J&J, Kellogg’s, L’Oreal, and Unilever.