Home Depot’s ‘Eco Options’ is forcing eco-friendly changes

Atlanta (July 15, 2007)- Home Depot, the nation’s largest home improvement chain and country’s No. 2 retailer, is trying to refine its standards for determining which of its products should be included in its new “Eco Options” program. It made quite a splash earlier this year by rolling out its “Eco Options” program, which designates some of the products it sells as being more environmentally friendly than others based on their material content, energy efficiency, manufacturing process and other factors.

Many of The Home Depot products that have earned the Eco Options title have been certified by Energy Star, the energy-efficiency measurement program operated by the Environmental Protection Agency and the Department of Energy. But the retailer also asks its vendors who want to be included in the program for additional information about their products, and it’s working with a private firm to develop even more detailed standards to determine which manufacturers deserve the Eco Options label and which do not.
It’s good that Home Depot doesn’t automatically give the certification to any product-maker that asks for it, because different manufacturers often make conflicting claims in an effort to qualify. One vendor, for example, said its wood-handled paint brushes merited the Eco Options label because they don’t require all the chemicals needed to produce plastic grips: A competitor said its plastic-handled brushes deserve the title because they can be made without cutting down any trees.
Only about 2,500 (roughly 2 percent) of the 176,000 products that Home Depot sells have qualified for the Eco Options standards so far, a company official says. But it hopes to eventually certify as many as 6,000, in part because the retailer’s sheer size is already prompting many vendors to alter their manufacturing processes or the materials they use to become more environmentally friendly.
Manufacturers also are anxious to get Home Depot’s Eco Options label because those that have already qualified have seen sales of their products jump about 10 percent in the past few months, according to a June report by The New York Times.
Related Resources:
New York Times
Chicago Daily Herald