In November 2020, Ethical Consumer searched the Walmart website and found that the company sold a range of shooting accessories. No guns or ammunition could be found. However, its policy on Firearms and Ammunition on its Policies webpage stated: "Walmart sells firearms in approximately half of our U.S. supercenter stores."

The company therefore lost a mark under Arms & Military Supply.

Reference: (2 December 2019)

In November 2020, Ethical Consumer searched the Walmart website and emailed the company for details of its supply chain management.

Supply chain policy (poor)

Walmart’s "Standards for Suppliers" contained adequate standards for forced labour and freedom of association. It stated that underage employment should not be used but did not state what was defined as underage. It stated that wages and working hours should conform to the law but did not provide a commitment to the living wage nor cap working hours to 60 per week. It stated that unfair employment practices should not be used but did not specifically state that workers should not face descrimination on the basis of race, gender etc. Overall Walmart was considered to have a poor supply chain policy.

Stakeholder engagement (poor)

Walmart did not appear to be a member of a multi-stakeholder initiative.
Walmart's list of approved audit programmes included several NGOs such as Better Work. However, it also included industry initiatives like the Responsible Business Council and SEDEX Members Ethical Trade Audit. As the company did not disclose the proportion of its supply chain audited by each programme, it could not be considered to have systematic input by NGOs in the verification of its labour rights audits.
Walmart's Global Statement of Ethics, downloaded from the website,, stated that the company "has a Global Ethics Helpline, which is available to associates around the world 24 hours a day, seven days a week, and is equipped to handle most local languages. The helpline is staffed by an organization not affiliated with Walmart, and to the extent possible (and in conformity with local regulations), callers may remain anonymous." It was not stated whether the helpline was free which was expected by Ethical Consumer.
Walmart was considered to have poor stakeholder engagement overall.

Auditing and reporting (poor)

Walmart’s 'Audit and Assessment Policy and Guidance' was downloaded, dated October 2020. The company took a risk-based approach to auditing based on the country in which a facility was located. Medium and high risk facilities were "required to complete an audit and follow-up audits as dictated by the supplier’s chosen third-party audit program." Facilities based in high-risk countries also required a 'prequalification audit'. Facilities chose an audit programme from a list of those approved by Walmart, and were expected to pay any necessary fees themselves. It appeared that not all suppliers were required to disclose all manufacturing facilities, therefore auditing did not appear to apply to the whole supply chain.
Walmart also outlined its response to non-compliance: 'Three Strikes in a two year period will typically result in a suspension or termination of the supplier’s business relationship with Walmart.' Ethical Consumer expects companies to have a staged strategy for non-compliance that involves working with suppliers to improve conditions rather than simply terminating contracts.
Walmart was considered to have a poor approach to auditing and reporting due to the fact that it did not commit to audit its whole supply chain, did not pay costs, and did not have an adequate strategy for non-compliance. It did not have a transparent schedule of audits, nor was there disclosure of audit results.

Difficult issues (rudimentary)

Walmart’s web page titled "Responsible Buying Practices" stated that buying teams were provided with training as well as continuous engagement with the "Responsible Sourcing Business Enablement" team. Walmart did not appear to address any further difficult issues and was considered to have a rudimentary approach.

Given all of the above, Walmart received Ethical Consumer's worst rating for Supply Chain Management and lost a full mark in this category.

Reference: (2 December 2019)

On June 1st 2021, Ethical Consumer viewed Asda's retail website, which listed several tobacco products. The company therefore lost a mark under Irresponsible Marketing.

Reference: (1 June 2021)

In November 2020, Ethical Consumer searched the Walmart Inc website for information on the company's approach to conflict minerals. Conflict minerals are minerals mined in conditions of armed conflict and human rights abuses, notably in the eastern provinces of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). The minerals in question are Tantalum, Tin, Tungsten and Gold (3TG for short) and are key components of electronic devices, from mobile phones to televisions.
Ethical Consumer expected all companies manufacturing electronics to have a policy on the sourcing of conflict minerals. Such a policy would articulate the company's commitment to conflict-free sourcing of 3TG minerals and a commitment to continue ensuring due diligence on the issue. The policy should also state that it intended to continue sourcing from the DRC region in order to avoid an embargo and that the company had membership of, or gave financial support to, organisations developing the conflict-free industry in the region.
The company was found to be a member of the Responsible Mineral Initiative. Its Conflict Mineral Policy stated that it had “engaged third party firms with specialized experience in various aspects of conflict minerals to assist Walmart in the development and implementation of our program, which includes due diligence activities consistent with the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) Guidelines.”

Wal-Mart was said to expect its product suppliers to actively support Walmart’s conflict minerals compliance efforts by:
- “adopting responsible mineral sourcing policies in dealing with their supply chains that are consistent with this [Walmart's] policy and the OECD guidance,
- supplying products to Walmart that do not contain 3TG minerals that have been sourced under circumstances that contribute to or support human rights violations in the DRC, and
- providing evidence to support their representations as to the conflict minerals status of their products upon request.”

While it did state that it conducted due diligence it did not explicitly state that it was committed to continuing to source from the DRC region.

No information was provided as to whether the expectations placed on suppliers were included in supplier contracts. Details of the steps the company would take to identify, assess, mitigate and respond to risks within its supply chain were not supplied. As the company did not commit to continued sourcing from the DRC region, it received Ethical Consumer's worst rating for its Conflict Minerals Policy and lost a whole mark under Habitats & Resources and Human Rights.

Reference: (2 December 2019)

In April 2018, Ethical Consumer viewed 'Demand the Supply: Ranking Consumer Electronics and Jewelry Retail Companies on their Efforts to Develop Conflict-Free Minerals Supply Chains from Congo', which had been published by the Enough Project in November 2017. The report had ranked 20 electronics and jewelry retail companies based on four core categories:
1) Conducting Due Diligence and Reporting
2) Developing a Conflict-Free Minerals Trade and Sourcing Conflict-Free Minerals from Congo, Particularly Gold
3) Supporting and Improving Livelihoods for Artisanal Mining Communities in Eastern Congo
4) Conflict-free Mineral Advocacy

Wal-Mart received an extremely poor score of 2.5 out of a possible 120 (with the highest scoring retailer receiving 114 and the highest scoring jewellry retailer receiving 66.5). The company therefore received the second lowest ranking in the report. It lost a full mark under both Habitats & Resources and Human Rights.


2017 Conflict Mineral Company Ranking (16 November 2017)

In January 2019 Ethical Consumer viewed Indian company Flipkart's website (81% owned by Wal-Mart) for policies relating to its operations.
The company was expected by Ethical Consumer to have an Environmental Report and Supply Chain Management policy. No documents relating to its environmental impacts or workers' rights within its supply chain could be found.
Due to its being involved in retailing own branded electronic products, such as televisions branded 'MarQ by Flipkart', it was also expected to have policies which covered toxic chemicals usage and conflict minerals. No policies addressing these issues could be found.
The company was therefore lost a whole mark under Environmental Reporting, Habitats & Resources and Human Rights (for conflict minerals), Pollution & Toxics, and Supply Chain Management.

Reference: (1 June 2018)

In December 2016 it was reported on the IndustriALL global union website that twelve workers had been found guilty on a range of charges after a labour conflict escalated in a free trade zone in Nicaragua. The workers were said to be awaiting sentencing, and faced up to three years in prison. They were arrested in June 2016 when riot police stormed a protest reported to have been peaceful outside the SAE-A Tecnotex factory in a free trade zone in Tipitapa, Managua. The factory was said to produces garments for export to companies in the United States, including Walmart. Walmart lost a whole mark under Workers' Rights in light of this information.


Nicaragua: labour conflict criminalized as protesting workers found guilty (December 2016)

In November 2016 it was reported on the Business and Human Rights website that Walmart was mentioned in a Californian lawsuit filed by seven Cambodian former employees at a Thai seafood factory that produces seafood for export to the USA. The workers alleged that they had suffered from severe working and living conditions, underpayment, unlawful salary reductions, restrictions of movement and other serious abuses.  The lawsuit was also said to allege human trafficking, forced labour and servitude. The factory at which the abuses took place were said to supply Walmart, although it was not one of the defendants in the case.
The company lost a full mark under Workers' Rights.


Seafood exporters lawsuit (re human trafficking in Thailand) (November 2016)

In November 2020, Ethical Consumer viewed Wal-Mart's Sustainability Hub website which contained a section on cotton.

It stated: "By 2025, Walmart U.S. stores will endeavor to source 100% more sustainable cotton for Walmart U.S. stores Private Brand apparel and soft home textile products."

It stated that its approach was to work with Better Cotton Initiative and certifications such as Organic and Fairtrade. It also said it would aim to use more recyled cotton. It provided no specific figures on how much of its cotton would be certified or how much was currently certified.

According to Anti-Slavery international (ASI) website viewed by Ethical Consumer in August 2018, Uzbekistan and Turkmenistan were two of the world’s largest exporters of cotton, and every year their governments forcibly mobilised over one million citizens to grow and harvest cotton. A questionnaire response from ASDA did state that it did not source from Uzbekistan but did not state whether this applied to the whole company group. Due to the high proportion of cotton likely to have come from Uzbekistan and Turkmenistan and the prevalence of forced labour in its production, the company lost half a mark in the Workers Rights category.

The Organic Trade Association website,, stated in July 2018 that cotton covered roughly 2.78% of global arable land, but accounted for 12.34% of all insecticide sales and 3.94% of herbicide sales. Due to the impacts of the widespread use of pesticides in cotton production worldwide the company lost half a mark in the Pollution & Toxics category.

According to the International Service for the Acquisition of Agri-Biotech Applications (ISAAA), a non-profit pro biotech organisation, genetically modified cotton accounted for 80% of cotton grown in 2017. Due to the prevalence of GM cotton in cotton supply chains and the lack of any evidence that the company avoided it, it was assumed that some of the company's cotton products contained some GM material. As a result it lost half a mark under the Controversial Technology category.

Overall the company received Ethical Consumer's worst rating for its cotton sourcing policy.

Reference: (2 December 2019)