At a meeting today at 9:00AM CDT, Walmart is hosting what is called a Sustainability Milestone Meeting. The CEO Michael T. Duke, is apparently announcing a major new initiative, the creation of a universal rating system that scores products based on how environmentally and socially sustainable they are over the course of their lives.
As the New York Times article today says, “Consider it the green equivalent to nutrition labels.”
I suspect they alone are in a unique position to get this done. We are talking about the world’s largest retailer, and for most of my clients their largest customer by far. “Nobody else could pull this off,” said Michelle Harvey at Environmental Defense Fund, one of the groups involved in the creation of the index.
While I give Walmart a ton of credit for getting this started, I would challenge other major retailers to get on board and support the effort. My guess is that in this case the more voices in the development process the better. Those of us responsible for designing the packages that will support this program, will watch with deep interest.
No doubt there will be some serious tactical questions on the actual application of this rating system, I wonder for instance if this isn’t better applied to a shelf sticker or other in-store merchandizing system rather than the primary package itself, but I suspect that consumers will eventually find this a vital piece of information for an informed purchase decision.