By now most have heard that the world’s largest retailer, Wal-Mart, is developing a green index for products. A look inside the project reveals four major areas of “green” measurement: (1) energy and climate, (2) natural resources, (3) material efficiency, and (4) people and community. Since “green” means a different thing to almost anyone you might talk to, Wal-Mart’s approach might just start to give some common definition to what has been a highly subjective term. Even more interesting is how all their individual products will rank, and then the certain debate that will follow over the relative strength and importance of each of the criteria. Further, products that rank low will not only have to look at their own manufacturing practices, but also those of their suppliers. It may indeed spur competition between suppliers to contribute the lowest amount on non-green attributes to the manufacturers –in other words, voluntary, bottom-up, market-based environmentalism. What a radical thought!
Do you think the development of Wal-Mart’s green products will strengthen their brand? Or will the competition between their future suppliers turn ugly?