Find the latest episode of "This Is Uncomfortable" here. Listen

Wal-Mart wants ‘green’ from China

Ashley Milne-Tyte Apr 10, 2008


Renita Jablonski: China’s under pressure again, but this time not by other governments or protesters. Nope, this time it’s Wal-Mart. Wal-Mart says it wants its Chinese suppliers to go green. So the mega retailer is planning to get roughly a thousand of those suppliers together later this year. Ashley Milne-Tyte reports.

Ashley Milne-Tyte: Wal-Mart accounts for 30% of all foreign buying in China. Andrew Hutson is with Environmental Defense. The group is working with Wal-Mart on greening its supply chain. He says it’s too early to tell what Wal-Mart will ask of its Chinese suppliers, but…

Andrew Hutson: We think as an organization that any effective program is gonna require greater transparency in the supply chain, meaning just knowing where your products come from and who’s making them, and what the processes are and what goes into them.


That may sound basic, but Ted Fishman, author of China, Inc., says it’s not when you consider what goes into making just one Wal-Mart product.

Ted Fishman: Not only does Wal-Mart have the thousand suppliers it’s meeting with but it has the suppliers to those suppliers. So, if you take a common product like a cell phone, there are 200 suppliers that make the pieces for a cell phone.


Fishman says if Wal-Mart can get suppliers to pollute less that could help shape Chinese national environmental standards too.

In New York, I’m Ashley Milne-Tyte for Marketplace.

Marketplace is on a mission.

We believe Main Street matters as much as Wall Street, economic news is made relevant and real through human stories, and a touch of humor helps enliven topics you might typically find…well, dull.

Through the signature style that only Marketplace can deliver, we’re on a mission to raise the economic intelligence of the country—but we don’t do it alone. We count on listeners and readers like you to keep this public service free and accessible to all. Will you become a partner in our mission today?

Your donation is critical to the future of public service journalism. Support our work today – for as little as $5 – and help us keep making people smarter.