In a sign of the growing demand for green products, Walmart has announced plans to develop a worldwide sustainable product index to establish a single source of data for evaluating the sustainability of products.

The company will introduce the initiative in three phases, beginning with a survey of its more than 100,000 suppliers around the world. The survey includes 15 questions focusing on energy and climate, material efficiency, natural resources, and people and community.

“The questions aren’t complicated but we’ve never before systematically asked for this kind of information. The survey is a key first step toward establishing real transparency in our supply chain,” says John Fleming, chief merchandising officer, Walmart U.S.

As a second step, the company is helping create a consortium of universities that will collaborate with suppliers, retailers, NGOs and government to develop a global database of information on the lifecycle of products -- from raw materials to disposal.

The company also plans to partner with one or more leading technology companies to create an open platform that will power the index.

The final step in developing the index will be to translate the product information into a simple rating for consumers about the sustainability of products, Walmart says.