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Amazon — in the midst of its busiest time of year — has announced a partnership with EPEAT, an organization that ranks electronics based on how “green” they are, assigning devices status from bronze to gold. This seems like a step ahead for the online retailer, which is racing to catch up with the green trend. But it seems to have deployed the system only halfway.
Instead of listing items’ exact EPEAT ranking, their Amazon pages say only “This product is EPEAT registered.” In order to find out what qualified as Gold, Silver and Bronze, users need to go to Amazon’s EPEAT page, and click on each medal category individually. So far, the system covers laptops, desktop computers, monitors and netbooks.
Also, other e-commerce sites using the system point to EPEAT’s online registry of products, which indicates how each one scored based on recyclability, supply-chain footprint, packaging, toxic content and more. Amazon doesn’t. This prevents customers from comparing several products in the same category side-by-side, which is where the information could prove the most useful. Amazon seems to be missing a real opportunity.
Also on the green front, Amazon launched its frustration-free packaging program, which limits the amount of packaging material used in the shipping process and requires that the bulk of packages be made out of recycled cardboard. It also kicked off Amazon Green, a site that lists all of the various green products it sells sorted into different categories like “Baby’s Room,” “Home Office,” “Toys,” and “Beauty.” It also runs a green blog. But this is the first time it’s put the green label on gadgets.
This sounds all well and good. But Amazon clearly hasn’t committed to green yet. Just this week, a user on popular news aggregation site Reddit posted a photo of a tiny product shipped in an oversized Amazon box. In order to keep up with other major retailers like Wal-Mart — which has made a lot of noise about divulging its products’ environmental footprints — Amazon will need to get more serious in 2010.
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