Tuesday, 17 May 2011 14:36

From Factory to Family Room - Why Product Lifecycle Matters in Business

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Greenbiz.com published an article in May titled Transparency; Regulations Drive LCA Popularity that highlighted the growth in corporate interest to perform Life Cycle Assessments, otherwise known as LCAs. A fill product LCAs is a method used to calculate the carbon footprint of each unit through the entire supply chain – from raw material extraction to use and disposal.  This article highlights a Green Research report that surveys the field of LCAs including companies, academia, and LCA providers. What the report found was that the typical barriers for performing LCAs include costs, time, lack of regulation, and a lack of awareness of the benefits. [caption id="" align="alignleft" width="392" caption="image courtesy of scienceinthebox.com"][/caption] As the article points out though, the benefits can far outweigh the barriers.  For example, the cost and time associated with LCAs is heavier on the first product. As data is collected and incorporated into research databases, the re-use of that information cuts significantly both the time and cost of the process for the company’s additional products. Now, how about lack of regulations or awareness of benefits? The article reports that when the survey done asked companies “What best reflects your thinking on the business benefits of LCA?” The top five responses were that the LCA will: enable them to make better products, enable them to respond to customers, put sustainability on scientific footing, enhance brand, and help make them more efficient.  This research report also finds:
“Of 23 companies surveyed that have already conducted LCAs, 82 percent plan to do at least one in the next 12 months. The number of scientific publications that reference LCAs has jumped from 473 in 2008 to 902 in 2010, with 636 referencing LCAs between January and April 2011. And LCA tool vendors and consultants report 30-40 percent sales increases a year, with many companies turning to LCAs to get a better grasp on their impacts, respond to demands for transparency and get ahead of regulations or eco-label requirements.”
An example of an eco-label that requires an LCA is CarbonFree® Product Certification. This certification label is a meaningful, transparent way for companies to provide environmentally friendly, carbon neutral products. By determining a product’s carbon footprint with an LCA, reducing inefficiencies where possible and then offsetting remaining emissions through third-party validated carbon reduction projects, companies can (as the survey points out): differentiate the brand and product, increase sales, improve customer loyalty and, of course, strengthen corporate social responsibility & environmental goals. Companies that have performed LCAs and achieved this certification include: Motorola, LEI Electronics, Intek America, Nika Water, Grounds for Change, Domino Sugar as well as others.  Considering this new research report on LCAs, these companies are clearly onto something! For more information about these products or about the Certification Program, visit: www.carbonfund.org/products
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