Many in the environmental movement once regarded admiring Wal-mart as heresy. But over the years I have gradually come around to appreciating the commitments by the company towards sustainability: encouraging employee diversity, slashing its CO2 emissions and reducing waste, to name a few big ones.
The publication last summer of its Sustainability Product Index saw the retail giant raise its game. The Index comprised 15 questions it was asking of its suppliers – all 100,000 of them. You’d think that 15 questions would be relatively straightforward: yes or no in many cases. The deliverable will be detailed information at the product level, which will support the creation of a lifecycle database for a wide range of consumer products sold by Wal-Mart.
I’ve been trawling around to see which companies have reported their responses: they are under no obligation to do so, but if you could prove you were doing the right thing wouldn’t you?
So, here’s to Nortel – good on you and to Wilson Korol, who has been leading sustainability at Nortel (losing him to Avaya at the start of this year to work on green/sustainability business over there will be loss, but he leaves a sound legacy). Here is Nortel’s response to Wal-Mart in full.
Energy and climate: Reducing energy costs and greenhouse gas emissions
1. Have you measured your corporate greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions?
Yes, Nortel has measured our global GHG emissions for a number of years.
Material efficiency: Reducing waste and enhancing quality
1. If measured, please report the total amount of solid waste generated from the facilities that produce your product(s) for Walmart for the most recent year measured.
Nortel has outsourced manufacturing, and does not have solid waste metrics from supplier locations. The suppliers tend to make equipment for a variety of other companies as well, which makes delineating the waste production for Nortel-specific products difficult. However, Nortel does track solid waste generation as part of our quarterly Environment, Health and Safety metric collection process from locations owned or operated by Nortel. For 2008 Nortel managed 6,690.62 tonnes of solid waste. Of that total, 4,805.86 tonnes were recycled and 1,794.65 tonnes went to landfills, yielding a recycling rate of approximately 72%.
Natural resources: Producing high quality, responsibly sourced raw materials
1. Have you established publicly available sustainability purchasing guidelines for your direct suppliers that address issues such as environmental compliance, employment practices and product/ingredient safety?
Yes, Nortel has a Code of Conduct for its suppliers. Nortel also has a Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) Supply Chain Program. This program incorporates criteria to evaluate and promote leadership in areas of corporate responsibility, including social, labor, environmental, health and safety aspects. The CSR Supply Chain Program requires top-tier suppliers to participate in a series of questionnaires. Based on the results of the initial questionnaires, suppliers may be required to participate in further interviews or on-site audits to determine if they are operating their business in a manner which supports the Supplier Code of Conduct, Nortel standards and local legal standards.
People and community: Ensuring responsible and ethical production
1. Do you know the location of 100 percent of the facilities that produce your product(s)?
Nortel has a robust supplier management program which reviews a significant percentage of the direct suppliers that produce Nortel products. Of course, our supply chain has many layers and our supply management review process and CSR Supply Chain Program focus on the suppliers that directly supply our operations and product manufacturing.