* Effort includes Wal-Mart, Best Buy, HP, Dell
* Aims to standardize environmental criteria
SAN FRANCISCO, Jan 21 (Reuters) - Some of the biggest names in technology and retailing are aiming to create what they say is a better way to identify the "greenest" purchases in consumer electronics.
The effort is being led by the industry-backed Sustainability Consortium, which plans to develop standardized criteria that will be used to label devices, starting with computers and monitors.
The initiative includes retail giants Wal-Mart Stores Inc (WMT.N) and Best Buy Co (BBY.N), and technology leaders Hewlett-Packard Co (HPQ.N), Dell Inc DELL.O, Intel Corp (INTC.O) and Toshiba Corp (6502.T).
The effort is driven by a desire to find a common measurement tool and bring consistency to an area where claims are often difficult to measure.
"This is about making it easy for customers to determine which products are green versus those that are not," said Scott O'Connell, an environmental strategist at Dell.
Wal-Mart announced plans last summer to create an index that could be used as an industry standard. The retailer provided seed funding for the Sustainability Consortium.
Green has become an area of competition and bragging rights for technology companies, with interest groups such Greenpeace issuing periodic rankings.
"It's not a majority [of consumers] that buys on environmental aspects but we believe that will come," said Jay Celorie, program manager for social environmental responsibility at HP.
The standards will also take into account broader social criteria, such as labor conditions under which electronics are manufactured. The effort will incorporate existing standards such as Energy Star and the Electronic Product Environmental Assessment Tool (EPEAT).
Initial results will be released in the third quarter. The group plans to expand to cover more electronic goods later in 2010. (Editing by Steve Orlofsky)