Product developer’s forum for sustainability.
We know plastics and PCBs are not going away any time soon. But there are things we can do as product development professionals to incrementally improve the sustainability of new products. This blog seeks to provide practical information on current materials and process and best practices for reducing environmental impact. Please share relevant information with us and the rest of the product development community. Because we can design and engineer products more sensitively for the good of all.
As the October deadline for U.S. suppliers to submit their answers to Wal-Mart's sustainability assessment questionnaire approaches, it's worth noting the tremendous significance of this initiative. In their Sustainability Product Index: 15 Questions for Suppliers, Walmart asks their suppliers to address their involvement in four key areas:
Energy and Climate: Reducing Energy Costs andGreenhouse Gas Emissions
Material Efficiency: Reducing Waste and Enhancing Quality
Natural Resources: Producing High Quality, Responsibly Sourced Raw Materials
People and Community: Ensuring Responsible and EthicalProduction
The fact that Walmart has confronted their thousands of suppliers with these questions (overseas suppliers have been given longer to answer) is a powerful jump-start to the spread of triple bottomline economics. (Employees, Sustainability, and $) Like many of us, Wal-Mart are finding their way to reliable lifecycle assessment and admit that they don't have a complete roadmap. However, the survey, accompanied with the public commitment to develop a sustainability index for every product sold, is a huge step forward. If you produce or design products, you need to be aware of these fifteen thoughtful questions and be thinking about their implications.
Wal-Mart has engaged two universities to aid in the development of the index and the maintenance of the LCA database. I know that this is an area that Nike and DuPont, among many others, are working on and I hope that they will be able to join forces in contributing to the database.