Wal-Mart to Teach Green Habits

Wal-Mart is hoping to improve its environmental impact by influencing sustainable shopper behavior. We're getting more into bringing an appreciation for recycling to the consumer so they'll actually do it, said Quanta Vetell, senior manager of public affairs and government relations for Wal-Mart. The largest opportunity we have is to reach our associates and start to bring this

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. — Wal-Mart is hoping to improve its environmental impact by influencing sustainable shopper behavior.

“We're getting more into bringing an appreciation for recycling to the consumer so they'll actually do it,” said Quanta Vetell, senior manager of public affairs and government relations for Wal-Mart. “The largest opportunity we have is to reach our associates and start to bring this down to the consumer level.”

She said Wal-Mart is still sorting out its approach to reusable shopping bags. “Many shoppers can't bring enough bags to accommodate their purchases. Also, there is the issue of [reusable bags' effect on] efficiency at the checkout.”

Vetell spoke at last week's session “The Sustainability Advantage,” part of GMA's Merchandising, Sales and Marketing conference here.

The ecological impact of global suppliers' business practices will also be a large area of focus in the coming months.

“There are over 2,000 folks in China who are producing for Wal-Mart, and we're going to take a hard look at global sourcing issues,” Vetell said.

Earlier this year, in his “Company of the Future” speech, Wal-Mart Chief Executive Officer Lee Scott said he'd require global suppliers to demonstrate that their factories meet specific environmental, social and quality standards. He said that Wal-Mart is hoping to hand down specific requirements within three to five years.