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, www.ota.com, 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.
corporate.walmart.com (2 December 2019)