Yesterday, the Sustainability Consortium received a major pledge of support from technology companies. Hewlett-Packard, Dell, Toshiba, Intel, and Best Buy are now planning on working with the organization to help define the term "green" for electronics. This diversifies the founding members, who include P&G, Dell, SC Johnson, Disney and Waste Management. The Sustainability Consortium was launched in July 2008 as part of an initiative by Wal-Mart, who began surveying suppliers in order to eventually rate the sustainability of their products.The SC consists of academics and others with the agenda of "establishing the scientific standards to measure the sustainability of consumer products," states the introduction to an introductory webinar the group gave in 2009.

This independent organization is working on providing a system where companies that commit to membership - which can cost as much as $100,000 for three years, says GreenBiz - can see the real environmental impacts of consumer products. This system will consist of methodlogies and tools to help make these products have less impact, without dictating aesthetics, competitive rank, or validate or audit LCA (Life Cycle Assessment).

As for the tech companies, this work will refocus on assessing desktop and laptop computers and monitors, and will create criteria for all consumer electronics. The information will be released in the third quarter of this year, says CNET , and will create a guide for consumers that will make it easier to choose purchases based on environmental criteria.

How this new system will cooperate with preexisting electronics certification programs is unclear. In addition to EnergyStar and EPEAT environmental ratings systems, this new rating could be helpful or confusing. But representatives indicated that the Sustainability Consortium is primarily concerned with reliability and scientific criteria. Rather than developing an index, the rating would take into account all phases of product life, identifying improvement opportunities, and assessing data uncertainties.