Sustainability Leaders Frequently Asked Questions

and last updated on October 13, 2015 03:25 PM


The Walmart Sustainability Leaders shop makes it easier to find products made by companies that have scored as best in class in Walmart's Sustainability Index. On, more than 10,000 items made by companies identified as leaders in a category (like televisions or plastic toys) through the Walmart Sustainability Index are marked with a Sustainability Leaders badge. This represents nearly 3,000 unique products. Learn more about what the badge means, how companies qualify for the badge, how the Sustainability Index promotes transparency and more through these frequently asked questions.

Who qualifies for a badge?

The supplier’s overall score in that category on Walmart’s Sustainability Index determines products badged as Sustainability Leaders. Companies may qualify their products for the Sustainability Leaders badge if they rank as best in class among other suppliers in a product category.  This means that companies must score as No. 1 in that category, or, in categories where there are many leading suppliers, products made by any supplier that scores over 80% will also qualify. 

The badge does not make any representations about the particular environmental and/or social impact of a specific product. While not perfect, we believe this approach highlights companies that are leading among their peers and allows all industries to participate. We encourage you to do your own research and learn as much as you can when purchasing a product.

What is the Sustainability Index?

The Sustainability Index is a tool for gathering and analyzing information about a supplier’s approach to monitoring and managing the social and environmental factors that matter most across the full life cycle of its products.

TSC, as a third-party expert, creates supplier surveys that are customized for different types of product categories. There are hundreds of factors that one can use to evaluate a product’s environmental and social sustainability. The questions are designed based on review and analysis of peer-reviewed scientific research in factors relevant to that product category. For example, deforestation is a critical issue for companies that make and sell wood furniture, and water is a core ingredient for soda companies.

Walmart surveys suppliers and analyzes data to determine which companies are leading and how they can improve.

How often are badges awarded?

Badges are based on supplier survey responses, and not specific product attributes. Performance and badge qualification is assessed each year. As the Walmart Sustainability Index improves over time, the qualification requirements for a badge will increase, encouraging further performance improvement. Learn how The Sustainability Consortium defines sustainability in each industry.

What is The Sustainability Consortium (TSC)?

The Sustainability Consortium (TSC) is an independent, nonprofit organization operating at the intersection of science and business to drive consumer product sustainability. Hundreds of TSC members and participants, including academic leaders, non-governmental organizations, experts, manufacturers, product suppliers and global retailers, work collaboratively to identify product sustainability issues and create measurement and reporting systems to address and improve these issues. TSC gathers the best available, science-based information on the environmental and social impacts of consumer goods across what is called the product “life cycle”: from raw materials to processing and manufacturing and, finally, product use and disposal.

The Walmart Sustainability Index surveys measure a range of performance attributes. TSC customizes the tools for each product category based on what is most important for each industry or supply chain, such as agricultural practices, chemical safety, factory conditions, and environmental impacts from manufacturing. Sometimes those questions are about quantitative performance, sometimes they are about management systems, and sometimes they are about transparency. Walmart relies on TSC to prioritize and also to evolve and improve the metrics over time.

Can badges be removed?

Supplier badges will be re-evaluated each year. Walmart reserves the right to suspend or remove badges outside of the annual evaluation period at any time if suppliers are found to be engaged in conduct that calls into question performance on the Sustainability Index. Such instances could include but are not limited to:
  • Event involving the credibility of the supplier.
  • Walmart is made aware of an inaccurate or dishonest response.
  • Failure to follow additional guidance for a Key Performance Indicator provided by The Sustainability Consortium.
  • Violation of the terms and conditions as agreed to by the supplier’s sustainability officer during submission. 

I found a badged product, but I don’t think it’s very sustainable; why?

The badge indicates that the manufacturer of a product is leading its industry in sustainability for a product category. The badge does not make any representations about the particular environmental and/or social impact of a specific product. This company and category level approach is a key element in helping customers reward companies that are leading in efforts to improve sustainability. It’s not perfect, but an important next step.

Our goal is to share the results, learnings and best practices over time – and adapt accordingly. In addition, we publicly report overall Index score changes annually. Stay tuned!

How do I know this company is a leader if you don’t share the actual scores?

Supplier information submitted to Walmart as part of the Sustainability Index is confidential.

The Index program serves to highlight relative performance. In other words, the score itself is less important than the context of the other companies in that industry. Some industries may score low on average because there is a lack of information available today, for example, but we can still identify companies that are leading among their peers.