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Wal-Mart

Wal-Mart to Label Products With Green Rating

Wednesday, March 31, 2010 by: David Gutierrez, staff writer
Tags: Wal-Mart, green products, health news


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(NaturalNews) Retail giant Wal-Mart has announced plans for an ambitious "green rating" system, an easy to understand score giving consumers an idea of the ecological footprint of every product sold in Wal-Mart stores.

Wal-Mart said it will gather detailed information from all 100,000 of its suppliers about the environmental impact of their practices, including air pollution, carbon footprint, packaging and water use. Although the store will rely on producers for this information, the retailer made it clear that there will be no opt-outs allowed, and that it will look poorly on companies that refuse to participate.

The goal is to synthesize complex scientific data into the environmental equivalent of a nutrition label, revealing the social and ecological impact of each product at a glance. According to Wal-Mart, this system could then be adopted by other retailers.

The retailer has partnered with a number of environmental groups and academic researchers in order to develop the system. Due to the complexity of the task involved, the ratings will not start appearing in stores for several years.

Such labeling systems have been proposed before by officials in both the United States and Europe. Prior efforts to create environmental labeling have failed, however, largely due to the difficulty of making complex scientific data easy to understand without simplifying them beyond the point of honesty. Advocates of environmental labeling hope that Wal-Mart, as the largest retailer in the world, will be able to pull off this ambitious project, thus paving the way for others to follow.

Wal-Mart critics charge that the labeling program is an empty gesture by a store trying to improve its public image. For more than a decade, Wal-Mart has faced a reputation as a ruthless retailer that exploits its workers and pursues aggressive market tactics to the detriment of smaller businesses. In recent years, the store has tried to reinvent itself as a model of sustainable business, promoting fluorescent light bulbs and announcing programs to reduce its waste and energy consumption.

Sources for this story include: www.telegraph.co.uk.

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