Long the bane of corporate social and environmental watchdogs (and not without good reason), Wal-Mart has been increasingly in the news over the past couple of years for making green strides, from selling 100 million compact fluorescent lightbulbs to offering organic food and introducing a packaging scorecard. Along those same lines, the mega-company announced last week that they have plans to evaluate consumer electronics suppliers on the environmental sustainability of their products. Beginning in 2008, Wal-Mart will ask suppliers to fill out the scorecard, giving customers the option to use the scorecard results to influence their purchasing decisions. The scorecard will evaluate electronics on energy efficiency, durability, upgradability, end-of- life solutions, and the size of the package containing the product. Products will also be evaluated on their ability to use innovative materials that reduce the amount of hazardous substances, such as lead and cadmium, contained in the product.To encourage suppliers to start implementing the scorecard metrics into their products now, Wal-Mart is also co-sponsoring an innovative design contest with the Green Electronics Council, the same folks who brought the world EPEAT (the Electronic Product Environmental Assessment Tool). Suppliers are encouraged to submit a consumer electronics product that puts the scorecard metrics into practice. The winner's product will be carried in Wal-Mart stores throughout the nation.
While it doesn't look like the scorecard will do much different than things like the EU's RoHS (Restriction of Hazardous Substances) and WEEE (Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment) directives, Wal-Mart's humongous size and influence in the consumer goods' marketplace has the potential to leverage change in a similar manner to that of a governmental order. While nothing has been implemented just yet, we'll be curious to see if the threat of being pulled from the mega-retailers' shelves will be enough to create the significant change in the electronics industry that US governmental regulations have failed to, to this point. Stay tuned and read the full release about Wal-Mart's new plan for more. ::PR Newswire via ::Engadget