Wal-Mart, the world’s biggest retailer, has raised the environmental and ethical standards it requires of its 20,000 suppliers in China, Bloomberg reported. Factories will have to cut down on energy use, carbon dioxide emissions, packaging and water usage, as well as ensuring workers are paid overtimes and treated in accordance with labor regulations. Announcing the new requirements in Beijing on Wednesday, Wal-Mart CEO Lee Scott did not shy away from product safety issues, arguing that an ethically suspect company "will ultimately cheat on the quality of its products." Wal-Mart expects to source US$9 billion worth of toys, clothing and appliances from China this year. The firm feels it must move to assuage public concerns about Chinese-made goods in the wake of the recent tainted milk scandal. Last year saw the emergence of safety concerns regarding other food products and toys.
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