In a bid to entice shoppers looking for more nutritious or environmentally friendly products, Walmart said Tuesday it would label products considered better for people and the planet.
The “Built for Better” initiative will begin with nearly 2,000 products divided into two groups: those considered better for health and those perceived as less harmful to the environment. The offerings meet independent and authoritative standards, either for personal well-being or for reduced environmental impact, according to Walmart, the world’s largest retailer.
Consumers drawn to Walmart for its low prices “now want to know that the products they buy are good for their families, the people who made them and the planet,” said Jane Ewing, senior vice president of sustainability at Walmart, in a blog post. “For many of our customers, living better means buying intentionally and prioritizing brands and products that are what matters to them.”
Labeling products as eco-friendly, the company said it relies on standards such as Energy Star Certified and Rainforest Alliance Certified, while products labeled as healthier for people include the EWG Verified list. and those made without parabens, chemicals used as preservatives in cosmetics and other products.
Walmart’s move received limited praise from the Environmental Defense Fund, which called for more drastic action from it and other companies.
“Efforts to provide consumers with product data are essential and it is encouraging to see Walmart take action with its new platform. Yet the urgency of the moment demands that all companies – Walmart included – accelerate their climate, health and equity initiatives even further, ”Boma Brown-West, director of consumer health at EDF, said declared in an e-mail. “Companies that do not risk damaging their reputation in the long run,” she added.
The move prompted Walmart to join other vying consumer companies to attract people who strive to spend money in ways they believe are better for personal health or the planet. Global fast food giant McDonald’s, for example, said on Tuesday that its Happy Meal toys will contain significantly less plastic by 2025.
Walmart has said in the past, many of whom are based outside the United States, to deflect complaints from environmental groups that include the true recyclability of plastic packaging, an issue that prompted Greenpeace to file a lawsuit against Walmart in December.