Walmart Electronics to be Scored on Green Credentials

In yet another example of how much clout Walmart has, the company is giving electronics suppliers a clear message that they better start thinking green. Next year an in-store rating system will judge electronic products on how environmentally friendly they are -- and it's not limited to energy efficiency.

Walmart will be requiring scorecard submissions for each product to evaluate environmental sustainability. Electronics with less impact and containing fewer hazardous substances (like lead and cadmium) will be ranked higher, for all buyers to see.

On the scorecard
  • Energy efficiency
  • Durability
  • Upgradeability
  • End-of-life solutions (recycling)
  • Amount of packaging
As well as helping consumers choose better products, the scorecard will show suppliers where improvements need to be made. It's good news for companies who've already taken steps in reducing harmful substances and have enhanced recycling programs, like Toshiba.

Design contest

Walmart is also sponsoring a competition with the Green Electronics Council to find the top rated product based on scorecard criteria. The winning product will be sold in Walmart stores nationwide.

Why some say this good news is bad

As usual announcements like this get some positive feedback, but also bring out detractors. Many of the same people who champion conservation and sustainability are the first to criticize such business initiatives. As far as I'm concerned a company that has already shown movement, including green building practices, in-store recycling programs, organic food and fabrics -- needs to be cut a little slack, even if it still has a long way to go. As much as some people may despise them, big box stores like Walmart are here to stay and most people aren't going to stop shopping at them. If we're always on the attack instead of encouraging companies to adopt beneficial practices, they might just quit listening.
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