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Posts tagged 'Full product transparency'

John Lewis To Put Lifetime Cost On Product Energy Labels

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John LewisJohn Lewis is to put lifetime energy costs on product labels.

You’ll see normal usage figures in the image, but posting actual costs rather than the somewhat indecipherable kWh or /Cycle will be a great help to most consumers. Not as far as I would like to go but a step in the right direction as advocated in my book Full Product Transparency.

The Guardian ran a piece last week that covers more of the detail but essentially it’s a six month trial backed by the Department of Energy and Climate Change.

If you buy a product through their website will you please let us know what you think of the new labelling if you have any feedback?

Here is an excerpt from the original article in The Guardian:

” The six month pilot involves displaying the average lifetime electricity running costs in a number of John Lewis product categories.

The aim is to test the effect of putting the lifetime running costs of appliances on product labels as opposed to just how many kilowatt hours of energy they use per year, information that will still remain. It is hoped that the labels will lead to an increase in the number of energy efficiency products being sold.

Speaking at the launch of the scheme at John Lewis in central London, energy secretary Edward Davey said: “In the past, people have had no idea how much their appliances will add to their energy bills.

Now consumers will be able to see clear, simple information on the lifetime electricity costs for appliances like washing machines and tumble dryers. This will help people to make better, more informed decisions and see how much an appliance is expected to cost over its lifetime.”

Davey hopes the collaboration with John Lewis – one of Britain’s biggest high street names will help raise consumer awareness of energy running costs and “lead to more retailers rolling out clearer labelling.” “

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Is Your Wife Cheating On You? Full Product Transparency

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The Best Assurance Is Full Transparency

Expensive external assurance of CR reports is used by companies as a way to verify what they’re saying. But many stakeholders find the resulting bland, heavily caveated statements unsatisfactory.

Full Product Transparency #FPT eliminates the need for this type of assurance, which would be a relief to everyone but the self-maintaining assurers industry.

Product reporting is the ultimate in transparency, clearly showing the environmental impacts of each product. By building third-party assurance into the Environmental Product Declaration #EPD process at product level, for instance by auditing the data that goes into the EPDs, the classic CR report assurance statement becomes redundant.

What could be more reassuring than a company making a promise to cut the impacts of its products, and then annually publishing its EPDs to show whether those impacts are reducing or not? Certainly not the standard boilerplate assurance statement at the back of a CR report.

Imagine this example – You suspect your wife is cheating on you. She comes back with a certificate from her lawyer, who states that he ‘has no reason to believe that your wife is cheating’ and a few caveats in small print. On the other hand, your wife provides you with a fully itemised mobile phone bill.

Which one would you trust more? Certificate or transparency? 

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Find Partners With Your Level Of ‘Values Driven’ Commitment

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To achieve Mission Zero, we strive to only work with partners who have that same level of commitment to building a restorative loop.

Our trusted yarn supplier and partner, Aquafil, has pioneered ways to supply Interface with recycled nylon fibers since 2011 re-purposing waste nylon from many sources, including yarn reclaimed through our own ReEntry® program and end of life fishing nets recovered from the fishing industry supply chain.

With at least 660 million people around the globe relying on the ocean for their livelihoods, and many living on the poverty line, Miriam Turner, Interface‘s Assistant VP, Co-Innovation, saw an opportunity. Inspired by Aquafil‘s recycling strides, she asked “Could we take this down to the community level and benefit some of the poorest people in the world?

What if we could build a truly inclusive business model buying discarded nets from local fishermen giving them extra income and cleaning up the beaches and oceans at the same time?”

Scoping a project of this magnitude requires a lot of hands, hearts and minds so in 2011 the Co-innovation Team began assembling an army of collaborators, including the Zoological Society of LondonTM and marine biologist, Dr. Nick Hill. After intensive research and planning, they decided to focus the Net-Works pilot program within the 7,000 Philippine islands, on the Danajon Bank in one of only six double reefs in the world.

And thus, Net-Works was born. The effects of clearing the beaches of nets isn’t just aesthetic. “In an eco-system as delicate as the Danajon Bank,” Hill states, “discarded nets are incredibly destructive. The nets take centuries to degrade, and with a nylon density greater than that of water, the nets lie on the ocean floor where they do untold damage to marine life.”

Along with helping the villagers clean, sort and sell back the waste nets, Interface and the Net-Works partners have established community banking systems for the residents supporting and strengthening the local, developing economy, and providing new financial opportunities for residents. Community banking empowers village members to establish forms of micro-insurance, savings and loans for the benefit of both individuals and the community.

It means building new models of materials sourcing to ensure the health and safety of our environment. It means beautifully designed products, crafted with care and purpose.

And it means another step closer to achieving Mission Zero

 

660 Million People

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How Green Public Procurement is becoming based on transparent metrics

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If you sell to the government, you’d better understand full product transparency. 

The real demand for sustainability is coming from B2B and public procurement. There are three key buying powers in the world today: governments, corporates and citizens. Both government and corporate procurement teams are now making big buying decisions through tendering processes, based not just on price but also on the environmental and social facts surrounding a particular product or service. The problem today is that there is little or no transparency on the real social and environmental impacts of products and services, so buyers from government and the corporate world have to invest vast amounts of time and money developing lengthy and time-consuming sustainability questionnaires. Often the focus of these is less on relevant aspects of the product or service and more on labels and certificates, which are pounced upon as some kind of proxy environmental assurance. FPT, however, will enable public and B2B procurers to make informed choices based on real facts, while saving lots of time and money on the wasteful bureaucracy that is connected with form-filling.

Public procurement is a huge market and it’s a willing one

According to the European Commission white paper, Public Procurement for a Better Environment each year European public authorities spend up to 16% of the European Union’s Gross Domestic Product on products and services such as buildings, transport, cleaning services and food. This amounts to approximately 2 trillion euros annually. That is massive by anyone’s standards. Imagine the transformational power that could be brought into being if this buying power was used to favour goods and services with lower impacts on the environment. Through their procurement policies, governments could make a significant contribution to the speedy development of a market for sustainable goods. As we have seen previously in the car industry, new legislation can change the rules of the game dramatically, and regulation to introduce sustainability into government procurement would certainly do that. That’s why Green Public Procurement (GPP) has been adopted and targets set in 21 member states.

Here are some EU figures.

CO2 emissions would be cut by 15 million tonnes per year if the whole of the European Union adopted the same environmental criteria for lighting and electronic equipment as the city of Turku in Finland, where citizens have reduced electricity consumption by 50%. If the European public sector alone were to adopt the Danish Ministry of the Environment’s guidelines for cars, CO2 emissions would be cut by around 100,000 tonnes per year and fuel and operating costs by a third. But if all cars operating in Europe met these standards, then CO2 emissions would be reduced by 220 million tonnes, contributing significantly to the EU greenhouse gas emissions reduction target for 2020.

This is an example of a simple yet very powerful and wide reaching action that could immediately reduce our negative impact on the planet by dramatically reducing emissions and pollution.

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How full product transparency will revitalise managing sustainability in the supply chain

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How full product transparency will revitalise the bureaucratic approach to managing sustainability in the supply chain

The conventional approach to exercising corporate responsibility in a company’s supply chain is to draft a company supplier standard and then audit for compliance using that document. The process often begins with a questionnaire and is followed by audit visits to suppliers judged to be the highest risk. The better programmes also include an offer of ‘capacity building’ for suppliers – in other words, they provide training and support to help them raise and maintain their standards.

Positive and usually well-intentioned as this course of action is, the impact is inherently limited by the narrow scope of the dialogue and the teacher–student nature of the relationship. It might work well when addressing very problematic issues (such as child labour), but telling suppliers what they shouldn’t be doing misses an opportunity to foster their talent for commercial advantage and innovation.

The flaws of the 700-question supply chain questionnaire

The questions below are from a real example of a supplier questionnaire I was asked to fill in by a corporate customer. Let’s look at how little each question actually drives real environmental performance:

1. Does your organisation have an environmental policy in place?

Any company can write up a policy in a couple of hours, but this doesn’t mean the policy is being implemented or monitored. Policies by themselves don’t drive performance, so the creation of an environmental policy will not necessarily have any impact on the products you are buying from your suppliers. For non-sophisticated audiences, it looks so good to say that 80% of your suppliers have an environmental policy. But in reality it means next to nothing.

2. Does your organisation have an environmental management system (EMS) in place?

ISO 14001 and EMAS are management systems, not performance systems. They just require an organisation to have a policy, comply with legislation, determine its impacts, and have targets. There is no link with performance. The other issue is the scope of these management systems. In general, they have a purely internal focus – they don’t include the raw materials used to make products, nor do they look at the use phase impacts of those products. If your suppliers have an EMS in place, this provides little assurance that the products they are supplying have less impact on the environment than any others.

3. Has your organisation identified the specific environmental impacts associated with the products, services or works it provides and taken steps to minimise them?

The supplier can just answer ‘Yes, we have identified them’. But how do you know that the issues it has identified are the biggest and most important ones? The supplier can also respond with any amount of corporate spin – cherry-picking some initiatives from the fringes and thereby allowing itself to look good.

4. Does your organisation observe legislation with regards to environmental issues?

Shouldn’t this be taken for granted?

5. Does your organisation communicate its environmental policy to its suppliers?

What demonstrable impact can be gained from sending a piece of paper full of generalities to suppliers? It would be far better to ask suppliers for radical innovations on the issues you want to improve.

6. Does your organisation check the environmental policy and performance of its staff?

Even if your supplier does this, how much of a difference will it have on the products you are buying?

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The Single Market For Green Products – Facts and figures

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The European Commission has released the following facts and figures from the Single Market for Green Products initiative:

* The global market for low carbon environmental goods and services is estimated at €4.2 trillion. EU companies’ market share is 21% (UK Department for Business, Innovations and Skills, 2012).

* Xerox reported savings of $400 million and Zara €500 million in 2009 by designing their products to minimise their life-cycle environmental impact.

* There are currently more than 400 environmental labels worldwide (www.ecolabelindex.com).
For analysis at company level, 80 leading methodologies and initiatives were identified according to which GHG reporting could be carried out (EC study, 2010).

* For product carbon footprinting, 62 leading initiatives and methods were identified (EC study, 2010).

* PUMA has stated that 94% of the environmental impacts of its products occur along the supply chain.

* 90% of consumers buy green products at least sometimes (Eurobarometer).

* 39% of consumers say business claims about the environment are not accurate (GFK, 2011).

* Only 6% of EU citizens trust producers’ claims about their products’ environmental performance completely (Eurobarometer, 2009).

* 94 companies examined used 585 different indicators in environmental reports. Of the indicators disclosed, 22% were used by more than 3 corporations; 55% were used only once (Journal of Cleaner production, 2012).

* Investors are interested: the investors’ base behind the Carbon Disclosure Project grew from 35 investors with assets of 4.5 trillion USD in 2003 to 655 investors with assets of 78 trillion USD in 2012.

* More than 1/3 of 250 business executives said that they could not keep up with consumer demand for sustainable products and services and 62% declared that sustainable investments were motivated by consumer expectations for green products (Accenture, 2012).

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Sustainability is not part of a company’s DNA until it is embedded in its products

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Many CEOs claim that sustainability is part of their company’s DNA.

What a cliché, what an easy thing to say, impossible to prove or dispute. But how can sustainability be in a company’s DNA until the core product or service of the company has significantly less impact?

The real DNA of companies are their products or services, what they offer to customers, what they sell. The first thing is to understand the true impact of your products.

Product sustainability questions get you to that elephant in the room.

We discovered that around 70% of the overall environmental impacts of their carpet tiles were related to the raw materials used to make them.

Of these, the oil-based nylon yarn, just one single raw material, had the single biggest environmental impact. In fact, nylon production accounts for almost half of the impacts across the full lifecycle of a carpet tile, a hard pill to swallow for a carpet manufacturer (the fibre is what makes carpet a carpet).

Rather than neglecting the elephant in the room, Interface re-focused its efforts where it could make the biggest difference: reducing the amount of yarn used, finding ways to recycle old yarn into new, and looking for bio-based alternatives to nylon. Today the company has products made out of 100% recycled nylon using half the amount of yarn, cutting the overall environmental impact by half.

As a side note, some other carpet manufacturers were marketing wool carpet as a natural and sustainable option but wool has between four and six times more embodied carbon than virgin nylon.

For more on this subject, read ‘Full Product Transparency‘. This book outlines a path towards a more practical era for ‘corporate responsibility’, where companies make real environmental gains based on hard facts, using lifecycle assessment (LCA) and environmental product declarations (EPDs). 

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How to revolutionise other industry sectors through a magic metric

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A practical guide for policy-makers. So how do we get beyond the car sector?

Below is a brief guide to creating transformational change within a sector or product category based on the concept of FPT.

1. Do an LCA in order to understand the main environmental impact of that sector or product category (e.g. food, buildings, chemicals, electricity, etc.).

2. Develop a common metric based on the full lifecycle impact or at least on the main impact area.

3. Establish a long-term goal stating what performance is required by when. This can be a fixed value or variable in order to increase competition.

4. Establish minimum performance required and ban underperform- ing products (you might get some World Trade Organization issues but there are always ways around it).

5. Create a system where industries pay penalties for underachieving and/or tax credits for overachieving. That encourages industries to compete and innovate. 6. Mandate visibility of the common metric on all promotional materials.

7. Enable and encourage national taxes, whereby the products with more environmental impact pay more and products with less impact pay less (variable product tax).

8. Enable local regulation that gives ‘incentives’ to products with less impact (e.g. what free parking and free congestion charge is doing for the cars).

9. Support and enable data intermediaries to be creative and do their job to help consumers make sense of the data.

10. Release the power of public procurement and buy only products that achieve certain performance levels.

11. Encourage equally the power of corporate procurement.

12. Award with the EU Ecolabel those products that demonstrate more than 50% impact reductions over the average product.

13. Sit and relax – the market usually delivers (but you need to tell the market what you want).

 

Let’s look at the building sector and try to apply this thinking (in a very simplistic way):

a) Magic metrics could be kWh/m2 and kg of embodied CO2/m2 (I will focus on the first one).

b) Set up a minimum European standard of, let’s say, 100 kWh/m2 for new buildings in 2020.

c) Give the EU Ecolabel to new buildings under, let’s say, 50 kWh/m2.

d) Give tax discounts to new buildings under, let’s say, 50 kWh/m2.

e) Facilitate licences/permits to the super-performing buildings (e.g. fast track or no permit required).

f) Existing houses pay variable rate of stamp duty and local council tax according to their energy rating (would encourage retrofit more radically than green deal type of approaches).

g) Government would commit to the strongest standard for new buildings and would retrofit existing government buildings to a minimum standard.

h) Mandatory energy ratings displayed in every public and private building including offices, retail, etc.

This is a back of the envelope approach that does not take into account the fine details such as the differences in building types such as domestic, office or retail, but it gives an idea of what the magic metric approach can deliver.

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PEF Policy Conference – 29-30 April – Berlin

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Join us at the PEF Policy Conference where they will release details on the upcoming pilot phase on the development and testing of Product and Organisational Environmental Footprinting Category Rules, benchmarks and communication vehicles.

Rana Pant from the European Commission Joint Research Center will be available to assist Michele Galatola from DG Environment on the technical aspects of the pilot phase. An updated programme for the event will be posted tomorrow here.

The PEF Policy Conference will be held on 29-30 April 2013 in Berlin. Objectives include; developing an early understanding of open questions, next steps and perspectives from different stakeholders on the future use of the detailed product environmental footprinting methodology and respective policy options. All participants are invited to actively contribute to the open dialogue to sharpen the common understanding of the road ahead.

Please click on the image below to find out all about the PCF World Forum including the program of events for this coming week.

Product Environmental  Footprinting (PEF)

Registration is still available via online or Fax Form

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Helping companies and consumers navigate the green maze

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The European Commission has released a fantastic initiative around the subject of ‘Building the Single Market for Green Products’. Helping companies and consumers navigate the green maze.

What is the problem for companies?

A company wishing to market its product as green in several Member State markets faces a confusing range of methods and initiatives. Let alone the hundreds of certification sharks, private labels and incumbent national systems that make a huge amount of money from this.

What is the problem for ‘Mum’ in the supermarket?

Consumers are also confused by the stream of incomparable and diverse environmental information: according to a recent Eurobarometer, 48 % of European consumers are confused by the stream of environmental information they receive. This also affects their readiness to make green purchases.

In the words of Commissioner Potocnik

“To boost sustainable growth, we need to make sure that the most resource-efficient and environmentally-friendly products on the market are known and recognisable. By giving people reliable and comparable information about the environmental impacts and credentials of products and organisations, we enable them to choose. And by helping companies to align their methods we cut their costs and administrative burdens.”

The commission has issued strong guidance on product footprinting as well as organisation footprinting. I will be commenting on these documents in the future.

The EC is launching a three-year pilot phase. Their objectives:

* Set up and validate the process of the development of product group-specific rules (Product Environmental Footprint Category Rules – PEFCRs), including the development of performance benchmarks. Where product group-specific rules already exist and are used by stakeholders, the Commission will use these as a basis for the development of the PEFCRs;

* Make the application of the environmental footprint methods easier, especially for SMEs, by testing innovative ways of managing the process and through the development of tools;

* Test different compliance and verification systems, in order to set up and validate proportionate, effective and efficient compliance and verification systems;

* Test different business-to-business and business-to-consumer communication vehicles for PEF information in collaboration with stakeholders.

I hope businesses will jump at these pilots to achieve our dream of open standards and push for full product transparency in the market without delay.

 

Links

Original press release

Draft Communication from the Commission to the European Parliament and the Council: Building the Single Market for Green Products – Facilitating better information on the environmental performance of products and organisations (April 2013)

Draft Commission Recommendation on The use of common methods to measure and communicate the life cycle environmental performance of products and organisations (April 2013)

Annex II of the Recommendation: Product Environmental Footprint (PEF) Guide (April 2013)

Annex III of the Recommendation: Organisation Environmental Footprint (OEF) Guide (April 2013)

For more information contact: 

Joe Hennon (+32 2 295 35 93) and Monica Westeren (+32 2 299 18 30)

 

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