Wal-Mart has released criteria that will be part of a scorecard used to evaluate consumer electronics suppliers on the environmental sustainability of their products.
Starting in 2008, Wal-Mart will ask suppliers around the world to fill out the scorecard and buyers will have the option to use the scorecard results to influence purchasing decisions. The announcement reflects the larger company strategy to sell products that sustain natural resources and minimize impact on the environment.
"Wal-Mart believes that this scorecard will move electronics in the right directionâ€”a sustainable direction," said Ross Farnsworth, divisional merchandise manager of home electronics at Wal-Mart during his speech at the 'Take It Back' conference in the United States. "The scorecard encourages improvements that are good for business as well as for the environment, reflecting Wal-Mart's view that being a profitable and efficient business goes hand-in-hand with being a good steward to the environment."
Next year, Wal-Mart will ask electronics suppliers to fill out a scorecard that will assess the sustainability of their product. 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. The end result is a score that shows suppliers where improvements can be made and allows Wal-Mart to evaluate the environmental sustainability of the product.
"Many electronics contain hazardous materials and are disposed of improperly. The scorecard issues a better score to those suppliers who build products with fewer hazardous materials and offer electronics recycling opportunities to customers," added Farnsworth.
Some suppliers are already integrating the metrics into their products. Currently, many of the computers and televisions sold at Wal-Mart are compliant with the Reduction of Hazardous Substances (RoHS) standards, including the popular Toshiba Satellite A55 laptop.
To encourage suppliers to start implementing the scorecard metrics into their products now, Wal-Mart is co-sponsoring an innovative design contest with the Green Electronics Council. 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.
As suppliers are encouraged to become more sustainable, Wal-Mart is continuing with its own sustainability initiatives in its Electronics Network. In February, Wal-Mart co-hosted a series of electronic waste 'Take Back' days. Together with Hewlett-Packard and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Wal-Mart collected more than 140,000 pounds of old electronics for recycling from residents in Florida, Georgia, North Carolina and South Carolina. In addition to the Take Back days, Wal-Mart offers year-round in-store recycling of cell phones and ink cartridges and encourages customers to buy energy efficient products.