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Posts tagged 'Life Cycle Assessment (LCA)'

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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2degrees checks in on our sustainability strategy

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2degrees‘ editor Tom Idle interviewed me live from our London showroom to find out how we’re advancing our sustainability strategy.

Watch the interview session to learn:

– About lifecycle analysis and how it can help you understand the environmental impacts of your product or service
– How you can find the hotspots that should drive your sustainability strategy
– Why I feel sustainability labels are unnecessary “‘fluff”
– Why industries need to move from corporate social responsibility to full transparency of products

This is a recording of the live interactive session.

Many thanks to Tom and the 2degrees team.

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4. LCA as a way to avoid burden shifting

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Full Product Transparency bookExcerpt 4 from the book ‘Full Product Transparency

‘LCA as a way to avoid burden shifting’

The LCA approach studies whole product systems and thus enables businesses to avoid mitigating one environmental impact at the expense of aggravating another. LCAs are used because they can help avoid a narrow view of environmental concerns by compiling an inventory of relevant energy and material inputs and emissions. They evaluate the potential impacts associated with identified inputs and releases. This information can in turn help an organisation make more informed decisions.

The goal of an LCA is to compare the full range of environmental effects assignable to a product or service with the aim of improving processes, supporting policy and providing a sound basis for informed decisions.

The product or service output: The functional unit

One of the key features of LCA is that it measures the impacts of a product or service instead of the direct impacts of the company that produces it.Therefore it is especially important to define the boundaries and scope related to any metric by which a product is measured. In LCA terminology this is called the ‘functional unit’, which defines precisely what is being studied and quantifies ‘the service delivered by the product system’, providing a reference to which the inputs and outputs of environmental impacts can be related.

Let’s start looking at it in a very simplistic way. Think of a glass. A glass is a countable thing: one glass, two glasses, three glasses. Glasses can be counted in units. The liquid contained by a glass, on the other hand, is not counted by units but in litres. So, in a simplistic way, the functional unit needed to carry out an LCA for a glass is units, but for the liquid in the glass it is litres.

But it gets more complicated. That way you could not compare two glasses with different capacities. You would need to compare the number of glasses needed to contain a given amount of liquid, because people want the glass to drink with. You would also need to think about cleaning them. If one was crystal and needed to be hand washed, and the other could be washed in a dishwasher, then you would need to take this into account over a given number of uses. Also, if one was very fragile, typically only lasting 100 uses, whereas the other was robust, then this would also need to be included within the functional unit. For drinks, then the question is whether it is just about the volume, because you are just using them to quench your thirst, or it might be about calories. Milk needs to be refrigerated, squash doesn’t.

Declared unit instead of functional unit

For most construction materials, the function cannot be finalised until we know how they will be used in the building. A carpet can provide sound proofing and thermal insulation, but this may not be required or used in the building, or may need to be compensated for if it is problematic. Cement’s function can only be considered based on the concrete it is used in and how it is used. For building products, we therefore consider ‘declared units’ of 1 kg, 1 m3, 1 item.

I argue that for FPT we should work on the basis of declared units rather than functional units, because a manufacturer of products should declare the impacts of their products irrespectively of how their clients will use their products. The declared unit for many raw materials, such as steel or cement, is kg. The functional unit for office space can be measured in m2. For power generation it could be kWh. The functional unit for carpet is m2 per product installed. That’s the functional unit over which product manufacturers should strive to make impact reductions. How the products are used is a matter for customers.

This idea of focusing on declared units is likely to cause some outrage to the LCA academics but declared units can work as building blocks while traditional functional units are better for comparative studies. For example, if you have the EPD of steel and cement per kg, carpet per m2 and so on for building materials, you can calculate the impacts of a building.

Defining functional units can get very tricky, especially in connection with services. What is the functional unit of a mobile phone service, for instance? Should it be a minute of a call? But the network is also used for the internet, so should it be MB of traffic? For tangible things such as ice-cream, t-shirts, or pens, the functional unit is quite clear: it’s what the customer gets. Unilever bases its LCAs on consumer use: one use of toothpaste, one use of rinse aid for the dishwasher, or one use of soap for a shower.

Example of functional units for LCA studies:

Lighting 10 square metres with 3000 lux for 50,000 hours with daylight spectrum at 5600 K.

Seating support for one person working at a computer for one year.

 1 m2 of insulation with sufficient thickness to provide a thermal resistance value of 3 m2K/W, equivalent to approximately 100 mm of insulation with a conductivity (k value) of 0.033 W/mK.

The amount of paint necessary to cover 20 m2 with an opacity of 98%. • A single pair of dry hands (to compare hand dryers, paper and textile towels).

1 km of gravity sewerage system under a road in a non-aggressive soil and groundwater environment, used for the removal of mixed household water, consisting of pipes DN 300 or DN 450 and manholes DN 1200 or DN 1350, with a service life of 50 years.

Example of simpler declared units:

1 kg (cement, steel)

1 m2 (carpet, office space, building)

1 litre (drinks)

1 use (toothpaste, soap)

Ancillary materials or processes

The point of ancillary materials or processes is particularly important. All the extra stuff needed to make a product or service actually work has to be taken into account. It’s quite obvious that you need to take into account the fuel needed to use a car. When looking at drinks, you need to factor in whether they need to be refrigerated or heated. When looking at soap, you need to factor in the water and heating needed to use that soap.

Note that it’s not the m2 of product sold, because you need to take into account the installation waste (cutting the carpet to fit the shape of the room). You also need to factor in the impact of ancillary materials used to install it, such as underlay or adhesive.

Problems with manipulating the scope and assumptions of LCA

Lifecycle assessment alone is not sufficient proof of a positive product footprint, for the simple reason that the scope of the study can be manipulated. There have been many examples of a ‘well chosen’ scope that can make good features look better than they really are while making bad points virtually disappear. You may, for example, have a mobile phone made with highly toxic materials but with a good battery life that exceeds the industry average. Solution for the unscrupulous business: choose energy or carbon as your main indicator, which will hide the toxicity and emphasise the good battery life.

Some years ago we saw manufacturers of paper tissues and manu- facturers of hand dryers simultaneously claiming that LCAs have shown their products had a lower impact than each other. This was because the hand dryer manufacturers assumed that customers used four paper towels per visit or a very short hot air blast, while the paper towel makers assumed one towel and a significantly longer hot air session. So it’s all about fair assumptions and scope. And better if there are strong rules than just relying on the interpretation of LCA practitioners or companies.

What are product category rules and how do they fix the assumptions?

Product category rules (PCR) are a set of regulations for products in a sector or category that are established by an independent technical committee that includes experts from that sector. Each PCR has within it a set of functional units and metrics common to that industry. The rules act as guidance to help a company understand what LCA data to collect. Product category rules explain how calculations should be made and presented – so as to best capture the different elements of a product’s total environmental footprint.

The PCR process is carried out in an open, transparent manner, and there is ample opportunity for various stakeholders to comment on how it is drawn up. This is crucial to making sure the PCR documents are of the highest quality possible. When all relevant comments are incorporated into the PCR it is approved and can then be used in the marketplace.

Although in theory each product is unique, it is not feasible to have a PCR for each one – that would lead to an avalanche of PCR documents. Instead, groups of product category rules have been created for similar products that consist of the same raw materials, types of chemicals, and compositions and components or for a group of different products that provide a similar function. This allows for the same set of rules to be applied to a large number of similar products – mobile phones, steaks, fridges, milk, cars, and so on.

Each PCR incorporates its own set of common functional units and metrics that are relevant to the industry in question, with agreed metrics relevant to the creation of the products or services in question.

Next time ‘What is an EPD’

… please revisit regularly for more excerpts from the book ‘Full Product Transparency‘ – or rent/buy by clicking here

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2. It’s All About Products, Not companies

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Full Product Transparency bookExcerpt 2 from the book ‘Full Product Transparency

If you read corporate sustainability reports, you’ll find that most companies still focus primarily on the environmental performance of their own operations. Yet for many businesses this focus is mismatched with their true impacts, which lie outside their operations and fall instead within the lifecycle of their products.

When you view a company in terms of the products it makes – as opposed to its offices and employees – you soon discover that the vast majority of environmental impacts occur outside its operational boundaries. In many cases the impacts associated with raw materials extraction and processing, product use and end life far outstrip any ‘in-house’ impacts.

Most of the impacts are outside companies’ boundaries

For Interface’s carpet tiles, for example, around 68% of the impact is associated with the production of raw materials, while only around 10% can be attributed to in-house operations. For companies that make energy-guzzling machines, by far the biggest impact is during the product use phase. This is counterintuitive for many people, because the most visible parts of a company’s operations are either their glitzy office headquarters or their smoke-belching factories.

Sometimes the figures can be quite spectacular. For a consumer goods company such as Unilever, around 95% of a product’s impacts typically come from outside the company’s own operations (see figure below).

Unilver Product Impacts

Tesco, a UK supermarket, says its direct carbon footprint in the UK is 2.6 million tonnes of CO2 per year. Yet the impact of its supply chain, which makes the products that go into its shops, is 26 million tonnes of CO2 – ten times Tesco’s own footprint. And the footprint of its customers using Tesco’s products is even greater: 228 million tonnes of CO2, which is not far off 100 times the supermarket chain’s own footprint.

Apple Environmental Footprint

Only 2% of Apple’s carbon footprint comes directly from its offices and facilities, while around 61% comes from outsourced manufacturing and raw materials, and 30% from the product when it is being used by the consumer.

The impact of ‘stuff’ is usually in the supply chain

When a lifecycle assessment is carried out on a physical product such as a carpet, or a t-shirt, or some ready-mixed concrete, it usually shows that the biggest impacts are in the supply chain, and are therefore already embedded in the product before they get to the company for the final manufacturing process. The biggest environmental impacts up to this point are usually associated with the types of raw materials being used, as well as the types of chemicals used to process these raw materials.

Outsourcing has made things worse

With the advent of outsourcing over the past 20 years, we now have many brands that consist essentially of a marketing department, some finance people, HR and legal units, and a product design team. The actual manufacturing of the product happens halfway across the world in nations such as China, India, Turkey or Brazil, because it’s cheaper to manufacture in such places rather than in Europe or the US. This explains why so many lifecycle analyses of products show an increasing percentage of the impacts taking place outside the operations of a company.

The mismatch in management: 80% of management on direct impacts

So the bottom line is that the seemingly impressive corporate responsibility programmes and targets of many companies are in fact generally confined to minor issues, often down to the paltry level of office paper or electricity. These misinformed programmes take the attention and focus away from major issues such as raw materials use, in life product energy usage, toxic chemicals use and end of life disposal/reuse. These are the main impacts of a company that makes products, not their office lighting. The legendary green advocate Jim Fava, from Five Winds/PE International, made this crude point in a Green Mondays event in June 2011: he pointed out that 80% of sustainability management tools focus upon only 20% of the actual environmental impacts.

The key to sustainability lies in product design

The key to radical change, then, is through product design. If the impact is mainly in the raw materials, then by redesigning its products a company can use fewer raw materials, or use alternatives to them. If a product is a machine that consumes energy such as a car or a vacuum cleaner, then the key is in designing a product that is more energy efficient. And it’s not just physical design that can make a difference: the business model and commercialisation strategy can have a significant influence too.

People buy products, not companies!

One of the things we need to do is to get away from comparing companies so much. After all, people buy products, not companies. It is products and services that have an impact on our lives, so that’s what we should be measuring and trying to make more sustainable. Who cares whether Renault or BMW have more factories with ISO 14001, better corporate greenhouse gas reductions or have more environmental policies? We should be thinking about the impact of the cars they produce.

It’s worth stating again: people buy products, not companies. We need information to decide which product is better. Buyers need that information at point of sale, and in advertisements, so that we can make an informed choice. So why are companies so busy producing corporate reports instead of product information?

Leading companies are embracing LCA as a central design strategy

Unilever is measuring the impact of all its products and brands in all countries on a ‘per consumer use’ basis. So 70% of its products worldwide are now analysed from this detailed perspective, with the focus being on a single serving – a portion, or the typical use of a product such as tea, ice cream, shampoo or washing detergent by the end customer. The metrics it uses are greenhouse gas per consumer use, water, packing and waste per consumer use, as well as sustainably sourced materials. You can argue whether maintaining the impact while doubling sales is ambitious enough (Unilever’s sustainable living plan) but at least they are focusing on the right metrics and right scope: products.

Likewise, Boots, a pharmacy-led retailer, has developed a product sustainability assessment model that analyses 23 critical areas across the lifecycle of the product. These areas focus on the design, creation, transport, use and disposal or recycling of its products. Targets are set to drive innovation and improve the footprint per product and brand.

But still these strategies are far away from FPT

None of these examples are truly the FPT I’m about to advocate in later chapters but we can see some companies are getting closer and closer. For example, Unilever has a target to double sales and maintain its combined product carbon footprint. Yes, it’s just a factor 2 target which is not very ambitious, though they are starting to look at the right scope: full lifecycle products. Also, the Unilever target is combined product, and up to now they haven’t committed to publish Environmental Product Declarations (EPDs) by each product (or product categories). The FPT that I’m advocating requires you to disclose the true, full impacts of all your products.

… please revisit regularly for more excerpts from the book ‘Full Product Transparency‘ – or rent/buy by clicking here

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1 – The Case for Refocusing on Product (Rather than Corporate) Sustainability

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Full Product Transparency bookExcerpt from the book ‘Full Product Transparency

1. The corporate responsibility beauty contest hasn’t taken us that far

WE ARE AT LEAST TEN YEARS ALONG the corporate sustainability journey now, so what really significant changes have we achieved?

Perhaps the business world has focused on the wrong tasks? Could it be that, despite all the carbon neutrality claims, hundreds of Global Reporting Initiative A+ reports and sustainability teams of ten or more people, companies have still not radically redesigned their core products and business models? The answer is that there has been far too much focus on companies wanting to look good, and not nearly enough attention paid to actually performing well. The beauty contest It’s in the blood of companies to compete, to strive to be better than their peers.

That has been the reason for the success of corporate sustainability, because businesses like to vie with each other to be the best in this area. But the end result of all the competition has been to encourage companies to give the impression of looking good while barely changing their ‘business as usual’ model. It’s hard to change the direction of a business, especially in the short term, but the corporate sustainability beauty contest has nonetheless been characterised by a disappointingly low level of achievement.

An entire industry has been created around this beauty contest, including thousands of labels, corporate responsibility (CR) report design agencies, boutique assurance providers, hundreds of awards with infinite categories, materiality matrix mavericks, investor questionnaires consultants, professional stakeholders looking to ‘engage’ with companies and all manner of membership organisations offering support networks for a hefty fee. Service-provider directories in the field typically feature more than 500 such organisations offering to help businesses look more virtuous than their peers – what the marketing guys call ‘differentiation’.

The problem with all this activity is that looking more virtuous doesn’t have anything to do with being more sustainable.

We in the sustainability movement need to ask ourselves honestly whether we are pushing for actual change or whether we are merely helping companies to gloss over big issues by making them compete in irrelevant contests? We offer companies the prospect of being able to make ‘100% natural’ products or to be the first company in their sector to become ‘carbon neutral’. In short, we have been tremendously innovative in coming up with fairly meaningless stuff that is easy and quick to implement, or that can deliver nice stories and marketing claims, but frighteningly ineffective at producing anything that will affect actual performance.

And astonishingly, CEOs are quite happy about their performance.

A 2010 Accenture survey of global CEOs put the last nail in the coffin of CR as it stands. It found that 81% thought sustainability issues were fully embedded into the strategy and operations of their company. Yes, FULLY EMBEDDED! It’s not a joke. It’s actually quite sad that the most senior people don’t get it.

Please someone explain to them that having a CR team reporting to public affairs with a nicely designed 150k report with some cherry-picked case studies and a set of qualitative targets plus a few quantitative targets on quick wins is not ‘fully embedded’! Fully embedded means sustainability is fully taken account of in all the products of the company. You are redesigning your products, your business models, your entire value chain. Yet there is no company in the world that has achieved this. The sustainability movement should brutally tell CEOs that making wishy- washy claims such as ‘Sustainability is part of our DNA’ is just wrong.

Seventy-two percent of CEOs in the same survey felt the strongest motivator for taking action on sustainability issues was ‘strengthening brand, trust and reputation’. Well, here we have the reason we are trapped in this rather useless beauty contest.

Prepare yourself for the next sustainability phase: Full product transparency.

Somebody needs to speak out if we are to move towards something more meaningful. We need a proper comparative benchmark, so that companies can compete on what really matters – and so that the sustainability consultancy industry can sell properly useful transformative services to these companies. This book is aimed at providing this benchmark: products instead of companies.

So the next phase in sustainability has to be truly embedded by being focused on the product. We need to understand clearly the total footprint of a product throughout its lifecycle – that must be the starting point.

There has been some focus at product level but wrongly headed: Green labels.

You may well be asking, ‘Why does it have to be this complicated to choose the most sustainable product? Can’t I just look for a product with a green label?’

It’s not surprising people look for shortcuts to help them decide. After all, few of us have the time to study every purchase we make. That’s why there have been so many people, from gurus, to NGOs, to certification sharks, to industry associations inventing so many lucrative labels that offer ‘quick assurance’ about product sustainability credentials.

But when you look carefully at how some labels are administered, you realise how flawed they are. Most are too easy to obtain, which is obvious because the easier your label is to get, the bigger your market becomes. Most labels are very narrow in scope, measuring the easiest things to measure rather than the big issues. Many lack independent certification or may even be administered by the manufacturers themselves. Many labels duplicate each other, confusing clients and obliging manufacturers to certify the same product several times. Unfortunately, some of the best marketed labels are the least robust.

Today nobody certifies whether a yoghurt or a burger is good for your health. You just get the calories and the nutrition facts and you judge.

This is what this book is arguing for: the environmental impacts of products – Full Product Transparency.

… please revisit for more excerpts from the book ‘Full Product Transparency‘ – or rent/buy by clicking here

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‘Full Product Transparency’ – About The Publisher

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DoShorts - Sustainability Publisher

As some of you know, I have written a book titled ‘Full Product Transparency‘ published by Dō Sustainability.

Dō Sustainability is the publisher of DōShorts: short, high-value ebooks that distil sustainability best practice and business insights for busy, results-driven professionals. Each DōShort can be read in 90 minutes.

What are DōShorts?

Books to bridge the ever-expanding black hole between data and doing. DōShorts are a new series of concise, high-quality e-books for busy professionals. They address one sustainability challenge at a time and can be read in 90 minutes. We aim to make those 90 minutes your most valuable that week, or month, and to deliver benefits on a par with an expert seminar or masterclass.

The series includes practical ‘how to’ guides as well as framework pieces and business briefings that give busy professionals an in-depth overview of cutting edge developments in a range of fields.

Millions of people will be introducing sustainability goals into their work over the next few years, or scaling up existing initiatives. Too much information can be part of the problem.

Our aim is to provide a source of inspiring, trusted and up-to-date information that distils the best available insights, expertise and experience, counteracts information overload, and cuts out the noise.

As the publishing programme grows, we aim to provide professionals with the confidence, inspiration and techniques they need at every stage of their careers.

About the book

In business, the past ten years have been the decade of ‘corporate responsibility’. Thousands of companies have shown unprecedented levels of interest in managing their environmental and social impacts, leading to a huge supporting industry of sustainability professionals, lorry loads of corporate reports, and a plethora of green labels and marketing claims.

Ramon Arratia argues that we need to cut out all the fluff and transform this new industry and profession to focus instead on full product transparency (FPT). In the world of FPT, all companies carry out lifecycle analyses of their products and services, identifying with precision the areas where they have the biggest impacts and where they can make the greatest difference. They then disclose the full environmental impacts of their products using easily understood metrics, allowing customers to make meaningful comparisons in their purchasing decisions and providing governments with a platform to reward products and services with the lowest impacts.

This book explains how a new world based on lifecycle analyses (LCAs) and environmental product declarations (EPDs) can take us away from the past decade of corporate responsibility fluff and towards a more practical era where companies make real social and environmental gains that are based on hard facts.

Full Product Transparency

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Book ‘Full Product Transparency’ – Author Profile

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Ramon Arratia - Sustainability DirectorOver the next few months I will publish excerpts from my book ‘Full Product Transparency’ on this blog to encourage the use of its content, and spread the message that we need to ‘cut the fluff’ out of sustainability communications, dispel partial truths, and constantly push for stronger corporate responsibility through education and regulation.

You can rent or buy ‘Full Product Transparency’ via this link

Here is my Author profile should you not know who I am or what I do. Thank you so much for taking the time to come to this blog and read the book. We would obviously appreciate your support by spreading the word, and all feedback gratefully received.


” RAMON ARRATIA is a sustainability director with 13 years of practical experience in corporate positions at multinational companies such as Interface, Vodafone and Ericsson.

He was named by The Guardian newspaper as one of the world’s top sustainable business tweeters. He is a strong advocate of product sustainability through his popular blog (you’re here!) and gives 50 speeches a year on the subject. He campaigns for stronger and more efficient European regulation based on product standards, for revisiting corporate sustainability reporting and for many years he led the ‘Cut the Fluff’ campaign against labels, certificates, partial truths, marketing claims and all the components of the old sustainability beauty contest.

Ramon has an MBA from Warwick Business School, a MSC in Quality and Environment from Spain and a degree in chemistry. This mixture of business and technical education has given him a privileged perspective to understand both the geeks (LCA practitioners, academics, engineers) and the geezers (marketing, PR, sales, sustainability consultants). This book has been clearly written with a hybrid ‘geekzer’ mindset. “


‘Full Product Transparency’

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The corporate responsibility beauty contest hasn’t taken us that far

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We are at least 10 years on the corporate sustainability journey now, so what really significant changes have we achieved? Perhaps the business world has focused on the wrong tasks?

Could it be that, despite all the carbon neutrality claims, hundreds of Global Reporting Initiative A+ reports and sustainability teams of ten or more people, companies have still not radically redesigned their core products and business models?

The answer is that there has been far too much focus on companies wanting to look good, and not nearly enough attention paid to actually performing well.

Focussing on Product rather than Corporate Sustainability is a core theme in my book below. All feedback gratefully received.

Full Product Transparency book

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