2008年10月22日 星期三

Chinese Suppliers Face New Wal-Mart Mandates

Chinese Suppliers Face New Wal-Mart Mandates

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Wal-Mart Stores Inc. is hitting its Chinese suppliers with a slate of stringent environmental and safety mandates, just as the manufacturers face rising costs and dwindling demand for their products.

The world's largest retailer by revenue will issue the potentially costly dictums this week in Beijing at its first global supply-chain summit. The event is expected to be attended by hundreds of suppliers, nongovernmental organizations and Chinese government officials.

An apparel manufacturer said the company's targets 'could not have come at a worst time. What [Wal-Mart] needs to make clear is, who's paying? Us or them?'

Wal-Mart said it will phase in energy-efficiency requirements with its Chinese suppliers next year, and expand the program world-wide by 2010. Manufacturers that sell directly to Wal-Mart also must provide the retailer with lists of their suppliers. The companies should be able to recoup their costs 'by taking waste out of the system,' said Wal-Mart spokesman David Tovar.

The effort is the next stage in the Bentonville, Ark.-based company's three-year-old initiative to improve energy efficiency and cut waste across its more than 7,400 locations globally.

Wal-Mart said it will require third-party certification that suppliers are meeting all the safety, labor and environmental standards required by local laws. This summer, Wal-Mart began requiring outside audits of suppliers' labor-law compliance.

In addition, Wal-Mart said it is committing to make its 113 existing stores in China more environmentally friendly by reducing energy use at each store 30%, and cutting water use in half by 2010. Wal-Mart also plans to open a prototype store in China that will cut energy use by 40%.

Wal-Mart Chief Executive Officer Lee Scott, in a phone interview from Beijing, said he expects to hear objections from suppliers that find themselves under growing pressure from the rent economic downturn, as well as Wal-Mart's continuing expectation of lower prices.

Thousands of factories in southern China -- the world's primary source of low-cost goods -- have closed this year due to soaring costs and tougher environmental and labor rules, increasing public unrest in the nation. Earlier this month, thousands of laid-off workers demonstrated outside the gates of Smart Union, a defunct supplier to toymaker Mattel Inc. and Walt Disney Co.

'Some people's primary concern will be what will this do to cost?' Mr. Scott said. 'But when we rolled out our sustainability initiative at Wal-Mart we found that eliminating waste, downsizing packaging and improving transportation fuel efficiency led to a whole lot of savings.'

He added, 'I don't expect people to immediately jump off their chairs and say this is wonderful. There will be a healthy dose of skepticism on some people's part.'

Wal-Mart is taking a risk by making its environmental and efficiency goals in China public. Now, 'we have a measurable timeline to judge them,' said Julia Bovey, a spokeswoman for New York-based Natural Resources Defense Council.

Not all of Wal-Mart's demands will require suppliers to implement costly measures or buy new equipment, said Linda Greer, a director of the environmental advocacy group. 'There's a lot of low-hanging fruit,' she said, citing an assessment trip the group conducted this summer of Chinese textile factories. The group found that in some factories, 20% of goods produced were rejected as not up to quality standards, resulting in a lot of waste.

Mr. Scott said Wal-Mart will join with nongovernmental organizations, such as environmental watchdog groups, to monitor compliance. It will use its own internal inspectors, outside auditors hired by Wal-Mart and inspectors from the Chinese government.

Wal-Mart said if it denies a company certification, it will work with the company to see where it falls short and give it a period of time to come up to standards.

Chinese products have been riddled with safety issues in the past year, including the current tainted milk scandal, poisonous pet food and toys with high lead levels, among other problems.

By 2009, Wal-Mart will require some of its suppliers to provide the name and location of every factory they use to make their products. Mr. Scott said instituting 'an identifiable trail,' from raw materials to suppliers, will ensure that products are safe, in part due to concerns they will lose Wal-Mart business if they don't comply.

The company said it is aiming to eliminate customer returns due to defective merchandise by 2012.

In addition, Wal-Mart plans to join with suppliers to improve energy efficiency by 20% in the next four years at the top 200 Chinese factories it buys from directly.

In its own energy-efficiency initiative, a Wal-Mart store in northern Beijing boasts an array of energy-saving measures which, if proven effective, could eventually be rolled out throughout China, say executives. The store uses low-power LED (light-emitting diode) lighting that will reduce the store's energy consumption by 15%, motion sensors in low-traffic areas that shut off unneeded lights, and sliding doors on freezers that better contain the cool air than open-air models.

But the measures are still fairly expensive, say executives, who declined to give specifics. The 6,000 LED light fixtures had to be specially produced by supplier Honeywell International Inc., for example, as did the freezers by Sanyo Electric Co.

Ann Zimmerman / Mei Fong


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爾瑪連鎖公司(Wal-Mart Stores Inc.)的中國供應商正承受著成本上升、需求下降的巨大壓力,現在他們又將面臨沃爾瑪提出的一系列嚴格的環保和安全規范要求。


Mei Fong/The Wall Street Journal

沃爾瑪表示,明年將分階段對中國供應商實施節能要求,到2010年把相關要求擴展到全球范圍。直接向沃爾瑪供貨的制造商還必須向沃爾瑪提供他們的供應商名錄。沃爾瑪發言人托瓦(David Tovar)說,這些企業應能通過減少浪費環節來彌補成本。




沃爾瑪首席執行長斯科特(Lee Scott)在北京接受電話採訪時說,估計新計劃會遭到供應商的反對;因近期經濟下滑,沃爾瑪不斷要求壓低供應報價,這些供應商承受著越來越大的壓力。

中 國華南地區是全球首屈一指的低成本商品生產基地。由於成本不斷飆升,環境和勞動法規日益收緊,今年以來該地區已有數千家工廠被迫關門歇業,加劇了社會的不 穩定因素。本月早些時候,數千名被解雇的工人聚集在倒閉的合俊(Smart Union)工廠大門外進行抗議,該公司是玩具制造商美泰公司(Mattel Inc.)及華特﹒迪士尼公司(Walt Disney Co.)的供應商。



沃爾瑪在中國公開提出環保和能效目標是個冒險舉動。紐約自然資源保護委員會(Natural Resources Defense Council)的發言人博韋(Julia Bovey)說,我們有一個可衡量的時間表來對他們作評估。

這 家環保組織的一位負責人格裡爾(Linda Greer)說,並非沃爾瑪的所有要求都需要供應商採取成本不菲的措施或購買新設備。她以今年夏季該組織對中國紡織企業所作的一次考察評估為例說,有很多 容易實現的途徑。他們發現,一些工廠有20%的產品因達不到質量標準被拒收,造成很大浪費。







在 沃爾瑪商店自身的節能計劃方面,沃爾瑪在北京北部的一家分店號稱實施了一系列節能措施;公司管理人士表示,如果實踐証明措施有效,可能最終會向大陸范圍內 所有商店推廣。這家分店採用了低耗電的LED(發光二極管)照明設備,能將店內用電量減少15%;在人流量較低區域採用感應裝置關閉不必要的照明燈;冷櫃 使用滑動門,比敞開式更能保存冷氣。

但公司人士表示,這些措施同樣成本不菲。他們拒絕提供具體數字,不過舉例說,6,000只LED照明燈和滑動門冷櫃就需要專門從供應商霍尼韋爾(Honeywell International Inc.)和三洋電機(Sanyo Electric Co.)分別定做。

Ann Zimmerman / Mei Fong

2 則留言:

匿名 提到...

Chinese products have been riddled with safety issues all these years, and what Wal-Mart is to do will more or less promote the quality of the goods we use, and in a long run ,will influence the concept ,the behavior; the culture of Chinese people .this is how things work ,to get to know more, you can go to Chinese culture.

匿名 提到...

Chinese products have been riddled with safety issues all these years, and what Wal-Mart is to do will more or less promote the quality of the goods we use, and in a long run ,will influence the concept ,the behavior; the culture of Chinese people .this is how things work ,to get to know more, you can go to Chinese culture.