Wal-Mart plans to begin asking suppliers to provide info on the environmental impact of their operations so the store can put so-called green rating labels on its products, the Wall Street Journal reports.The first cards probably won't appear for a few years, but given Wal-Mart's clout as the world's biggest retailer, the move could have a profound effect on the entire industry. Some say it could mean higher prices as well.
The rating system—Wal-Mart appears to be trying to get out in front of any government regulations—could backfire if information is presented as mere “eco-babble” opaque to consumers, the Journal notes. But one Wal-Mart adviser, a professor, thinks the program is revelatory. Even carbon-neutral products can be “detrimental to human health in other ways,” he said. “So you have to look comprehensively at what sustainability really means, and that is what Wal-Mart is trying to do here in a very big way.”