Walmart is supporting efforts across the textile value chain to help improve sustainability and provide access to quality apparel, footwear and soft home products.
Textile products are an essential part of our customers’ everyday lives and represent an important sector in the global economy. As global population is projected to rise, the demand for products like clothing, towels and other textile products will also increase, while resources are expected to become more scarce. The challenge facing the world is how to produce an increasing volume of products while working to conserve resources. Walmart aims to address this challenge by working with suppliers, NGOs, and other industry stakeholders to improve the sustainability of our textiles supply chain.
Textile Value Chain
The Sustainability Consortium’s hot spots help us identify and address issues throughout the textile value chain.
Walmart is working to better understand the current state of our textiles supply chain and develop an approach to enhance sustainability. Our vision is for all textile products to be sustainably designed, sustainably produced, and made with quality that lasts. Informed by research from The Sustainability Consortium and other resources, we have established an initial focus on: sourcing fibers sustainably, leveraging certifications, and reducing impact in textile manufacturing. Walmart is also actively working to promote worker dignity through responsible sourcing. We are challenging suppliers to deliver Every Day Low True Cost (EDLTC) products that are not only affordable but are also produced in a way that is more sustainable for people and the environment.
Sourcing Fibers Sustainably
For many textiles, the story begins with cotton and the fields where it’s grown. According to the World Wildlife Fund (WWF), cotton is produced in 80 countries around the world, using 3 percent of global arable land and supporting the livelihoods of hundreds of millions of people, including approximately 100 million farmers. At Walmart, cotton is an important fiber for our business and is used within many apparel and soft home products. Key challenges to ensuring a sustainable cotton supply include climate change, resource depletion, and traceability. Recognizing these challenges, Walmart has 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.
By 2025, Walmart U.S. stores will source 100% more sustainable cotton for Private Brand apparel and soft home textile products.
In Walmart’s view, “more sustainable cotton” means working to continuously improve environmental and social performance on the fields where cotton is grown, including:
- Maximizing land use efficiency/yield
- Improving soil health
- Optimizing inputs like water and chemicals
- Decreasing energy use and greenhouse gas emissions
- Promoting conditions that are better for workers and farmers
To achieve our goal, Walmart will work with Private Brand suppliers to use cotton sources that align with our view of more sustainable cotton, such as USA cotton and 3rd party certification programs like BCI’s Better Cotton Standard or equivalent standards globally, Organic, and Fair Trade. We believe Walmart’s goal will increase both the demand and supply for sustainably sourced cotton. Additionally, in support of our aspiration to help create a more circular economy, Walmart will also work with suppliers to include recycled cotton as a source of more sustainable cotton to achieve our goal. Best practice for recycled cotton involves chain of custody documentation/certification through the supply chain.
Walmart will also be working with suppliers and industry partners like The Sustainability Consortium to increase visibility into where cotton sourced for our Private Brand apparel and soft home textile products is grown, as well as build a better understanding of conditions in key cotton sourcing regions globally and the risks arising in the face of climate change. This research and collaboration will help guide Walmart’s approach to support cotton sustainability improvements in the future.
According to Textile Exchange, polyester is the most commonly used fiber in the world and accounts for roughly half of the overall fiber market. Polyester fiber is used within many of Walmart’s apparel and soft home textile products. While polyester is a manmade fiber conventionally made from oil, it is feasible to create recycled polyester fiber from pre- or post-consumer plastic waste such as PET bottles.
As a global retailer, Walmart aspires to help create a more circular economy, moving away from a take-make-dispose approach to one where resources are preserved in production, and the materials are ultimately recycled back into the economic stream. In support of this aspiration, Walmart is working with suppliers and other industry partners to increase the use of recycled polyester fiber in our Private Brand apparel and soft home textile products while also maintaining the quality our customers expect, preserving resources, and reducing environmental impact within our supply chain.
Walmart U.S. aspires to source 100% recycled polyester fiber for our Private Brand apparel and soft home textile products. We have set a target to source 50% recycled polyester for Walmart U.S. stores Private Brand apparel and soft home textile products by 2025.
To achieve our goal, Walmart will work with Private Brand suppliers to source verifiable sources of recycled polyester (rPET). Best practice for recycled polyester involves chain of custody documentation/certification through the supply chain.
Using Sustainable Chemistry
- Sustainable Chemistry
Walmart customers depend on us to sell products that are not only affordable but that are produced in a responsible and sustainable way. We pride ourselves on exceeding their expectations, and we are constantly evolving our business to better serve our customers today and for generations to come.
Walmart encourages suppliers to lead on sustainable chemistry in apparel, footwear, and soft home textile products and leverage third party certifications that assess and recognize leadership in line with the principles of sustainable chemistry. Third party certifications can help lend credibility and verification for how products are made and can provide a signal of leadership to customers, such as OEKO-TEX Standard 100.
Reducing Impact in Textile Manufacturing
- Mills Sustainability Program
Textile mills are a key environmental hot spot within the textiles value chain. In 2016, Walmart launched its Mill Sustainability Program to help support suppliers and their mills in improving environmental-impact areas at textile mills. As part of this program, suppliers and mills baseline their performance using the Sustainable Apparel Coalition (SAC)’s widely accepted Higg Index Facility Environmental Module (FEM) and participate in expert-led workshops on practical steps to reduce costs and environmental impact through resource efficiency and process improvement. By collecting facility-level data, the Higg Index FEM provides benchmarking across seven areas of environmental assessment (including energy use and greenhouse gas emissions, water use, chemical management, waste management, and more) and lays the groundwork to set actionable goals and measure improvement in the future. Since the Mill Sustainability Program’s launch, participation has continued to expand, and Walmart is committed to keeping up the momentum.
By 2022, Walmart U.S. stores will source apparel and home textile products only from suppliers working with textile mills that use the Sustainable Apparel Coalition’s Higg Index Facility Environmental Module (FEM) to measure and improve environmental performance.
To achieve our goal, Walmart U.S. asks all private, proprietary, and national brand suppliers of apparel and soft home textile products to provide transparency to their textile mill operations, report 3rd party verified performance scores via SAC’s Higg Index FEM annually and establish plans for continuous improvement of environmental performance.
- Transparency: Walmart asks private, proprietary, and national brand suppliers to disclose all textile mills supplying fabric for products sold in Walmart U.S. stores through SAC’s Higg Index FEM platform.
- Reporting & Verification: Walmart asks private, proprietary, and national brand suppliers to ensure all textile mills supplying fabrics for products sold in Walmart U.S. stores report 3rd party verified Higg Index FEM scores annually and share their results with Walmart through the SAC’s Higg Index FEM platform. Suppliers can learn more about the SAC’s Verification Program for the Higg FEM here.
- Continuous Improvement: Walmart asks private, proprietary, and national brand suppliers to work with their textile mills supplying fabrics for products sold in Walmart U.S. stores to create a plan for continuous improvement of their Higg Index FEM scores and share them with Walmart.
Efforts to improve environmental performance at textile mills through Walmart’s Mills Sustainability Program are also well aligned with Project Gigaton – which is Walmart’s commitment to work with suppliers to reduce 1 billion metric tons of greenhouse gas emissions from our global supply chain by 2030.
Supporting Worker Dignity through Responsible Sourcing
- Responsible Sourcing
At Walmart, we are committed to working with suppliers and stakeholders to make the global supply chain more responsible. Through our Responsible Sourcing program, we set expectations of suppliers and the facilities they use, assess supply chain risk, monitor supply chain conditions through audits and investigations, provide training and tools for our associates and suppliers, and collaborate with others to make progress on key industry-wide issues.
Walmart’s Responsible Sourcing Priorities:
To combat forced and underage labor, to address unsafe working conditions, and to promote worker dignity through responsible sourcing. Please visit Walmart’s Responsible Sourcing Program website to learn more.