More than 100 Faith Leaders in All 50 States Call on Walmart to Change E-Waste Policies

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May 31, 2012

Contact: Robin Schneider 512-299-1640 (Cell), Tyson Sowell 713-337-4192 (Office), Zac Trahan 214-599-7840

Fayetteville, AR–As Walmart holds its annual shareholders’ meeting, environmental activists and local clergy are publishing an Open Letter signed by more than 100 faith leaders from all 50 states calling on the retail giant to match their competitors’ programs in electronic waste recycling, back a national policy against the export dumping of electronic waste on developing nations overseas and to work with their suppliers to design greener electronic products. Endorsed by priests, pastors, rabbis, lay leaders, faith based activists and theologians, the “Open Letter to Walmart on Stewardship of Electronic Waste” is the latest in a year-long campaign to convince the company to offer options, much like their competitors have for years. Click here to see the letter.

“A new consensus is emerging among the faithful and among business that careful stewardship of our land, water and other resources is a moral imperative,” Rev. Randi Henderson, Pastor of Mt. Comfort Presbyterian Church said. “Walmart has made a commitment to sustainability and this is an opportunity for the company to deliver on that promise.”

Over the course of eleven months Texas Campaign for the Environment activists have generated more than 30,000 letters to Walmart officials. Andrea Thomas, Walmart Senior VP for Sustainability told the group in April that the company has “an internal cross functional team that is actively engaged on the issue,” but no commitments have been made to date.  Walmart competitors Best Buy, Staples and Office Depot all offer free takeback for electronic products.

“Walmart is meeting to fulfill their obligations to their shareholders, but we are here to remind them that we have obligations which are higher than any legal duties,” Shelley Buonaiuto of the Fayetteville Friends Meeting, speaking on behalf of the Open Letter’s lay signers, said. “I am proud to join faith leaders from so many faith traditions – Evangelicals, mainline Protestants, Catholics, Mormons, Jews, Muslims, Sikhs, Buddhists and others – to call on Walmart to care for Creation and reduce the harms of electronic waste.”

“Walmart’s enormous market presence and resulting lobby power is expected to be a ‘game changer’ in the stewardship of electronic waste,” said Robin Schneider, Executive Director of Texas Campaign for the Environment said. While a number of states have legislation requiring producer responsibility for electronics products, most of them still end up in landfills where they pose a real threat to land and water. Most of the products sent for recycling are actually shipped to crude scrap operations overseas, resulting in some of the most polluted sites on the planet.

“Protecting the planet is good business, but it is also the right thing to do,” Schneider said. “Millions around the country feel that Walmart has forsaken the values which Sam Walton founded the company on. What we are proposing is a simple way for the company to signal a rededication to those values.”

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