2018 Global Responsibility Report

Improving practices in the textile and apparel value chain

Walmart is supporting efforts across the textile value chain to help improve sustainability while delivering high-quality apparel, towels and other fabric products.

Sustainable cotton. For many textiles, the story begins with cotton and the fields where it’s grown. Hot spots for cotton cultivation include climate change, resource depletion and traceability. We have been working with stakeholders across the industry, including Field-to-Market, our suppliers, and Cotton LEADS, to learn more about the issues facing cotton and potential approaches to create system change all the way back to the cotton field.

Sustainable mills. The fabric mill, for example, is a hot spot for energy, chemical use, and water. Fabric also drives a large proportion of the embedded cost of a textile product. Inspired by our participation in the Natural Resource Defense Council’s successful Clean by Design program in China, Walmart launched the Mill Sustainability Program in October 2016 with 10 suppliers and their mill partners to improve environmental-impact areas at the mill.

As part of the program, suppliers and mills agree to baseline their performance using the Sustainable Apparel Coalition’s widely accepted Higg Index Facility Environmental Module (FEM) and participate in Walmart’s expert-led workshops on practical steps to reduce costs and environmental impact through resource efficiency and process management. By collecting facility-level data, the Higg Index FEM provides benchmarking and lays the groundwork to set actionable goals and measure improvement in the future. Since the program’s launch, participation has expanded to suppliers representing over 40 percent of our U.S. sales volume for apparel and home textiles.

As we address textile hot spots such as mills, we’re challenging suppliers to deliver Every Day Low True Cost (EDLTC) products that are more sustainable—without raising the price. For example, Hanes Max Cushion Crew Socks, are made with 20 percent recycled Repreve polyester in an efficient facility that derived on average 70 percent of its energy from renewable sources in 2017.

To engage customers on these products, we’ll be highlighting key sustainability attributes of the EDLTC story alongside the product. The delivery of each EDLTC item sends an important message: innovative suppliers can deliver high-quality, sustainable products as part of the Walmart everyday low price promise.

Strengthening the labor force in manufacturing. Since 2011, Walmart and the Walmart Foundation have been working to empower women and workers in the textile value chain. Through the Women in Factories training programs implemented by grantees funded by the Walmart Foundation, we learned that empowerment training can have positive impacts on the awareness of gender issues, productivity, retention, and overall worker wellbeing. Through a Walmart Foundation grant of almost $700,000, Pacific Links Foundation is testing integrated gender-empowerment training that leverages the Women in Factories curriculum developed by CARE and their own forced-labor awareness training. Pacific Links Foundation will leverage digital tools to train migrant communities in Vietnam in order to support more-sustainable recruitment practices for factories.

See more about our practices in the Responsible Sourcing section.

Through a Walmart Foundation grant of almost $700,000, Pacific Links Foundation is testing integrated gender-empowerment training that leverages the Women in Factories curriculum developed by CARE and their own forced-labor awareness training.