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Office Depot Debuts Nation’s First EPEAT Consumer Labels for Electronics

A newly-designed Office Depot store in Portland, Ore., will be the country’s first to offer products bearing the EcoSense label for electronic merchandise.

Products with the EcoSense label will be identified with Gold, Silver, and Bronze ratings based on criteria that reflect several categories of environmental attributes, covering the full life-cycle of electronic products.

The label is the consumer-facing brand extension for the Electronics Product Environmental Assessment Tool, a environmental rating system for electronics developed in 2006 for use by business and government purchasers. EPEAT, which is run by the nonprofit Zero Waste Alliance, provides information for buyers to compare products based on environmental considerations in addition to cost and overall performance.

Office Depot’s Portland location is also part of a raft of smaller-format stores that the company is rolling out in an effort to lower its carbon footprint. The store features energy-saving building elements such as T5 lights and reflectors that use fewer bulbs than traditional fixtures, and daylight and occupancy sensors to cut down on lighting use. The store also features an energy management system, reused store fixtures and carpets with recycled content, Office Depot says. When the Portland store opened 13 years ago it used the traditional “big-box” Office Depot design.

Earlier this month the company announced that it had lowered its portfolio-wide energy consumption 37 percent in seven years, earning it a spot on the EPA’s list of 2012 Energy Star Leaders for Leadership in Reducing Greenhouse Gas Emissions. Office Depot said it achieved this CO2 reduction by investing in energy efficiency initiatives including de-lamping; changing to energy-efficient lamps, reflectors and ballasts; installing motion detectors in receiving areas; upgrading building HVAC systems; and monitoring energy usage through energy management controls.

A Retail Sustainability Report from the Retail Industry Leaders Association published in January found that big-box retailers are gravitating towards smaller stores and distribution centers in an effort to reduce energy use. In addition, 63 percent of retailers now have an energy management system in at least 50 percent of their stores, according to a report by the Professional Retail Store Maintenance Association.

In June, Apple withdrew its products from the EPEAT registry, causing San Francisco’s city government to announce it was no longer buying Apple products, but within weeks the company rejoined the program, calling its decision a mistake.

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