Making Your Product Sustainable

Here is a good example of how I would work with you on a product:

1. Introductory workshop for team This would bring together a cross-functional team from within your organisation, including people from marketing, operations and engineering as well as product development and design. Key external suppliers and clients are also welcome in this group. A good group size could range from 5 to 25 people. I would give a background on product sustainability including what other sectors and also rival businesses are doing. We would learn and practice the fundamentals of sustainable design, and make a rough map of materials and energy flows of the products in question. Timing: A 4 hour workshop at your premises or other suitable venue Cost: £375 plus travel

2. Data collection We then collect the information needed to make a suitably accurate mass balance. This ususally requires a team member from your organisation to work with me to idenfity and hunt down data and figure out the most effective ways to calculate or estimate mass and energy consumption at all points on the supply and manufacturing chain. We can utilise any existing LCI data or create new datasets from existing company information such as accounts and invoices, interrogate suppliers or simply go out and count, time, weigh and measure throughputs on the factory floor. Timing: Usually one day of Edwin's time, one day of your team member's time, typically over no more than two weeks' elapsed time Cost: £750 per day plus travel

3. Analysis I will now make an analysis of the environmental impact of the product, setting up the data in a spreadsheet that you can keep and use to check the differences design improvements make. This analysis can be simple and traditional, using for example EcoIndicator '99 data, or it can be more complex. If you are looking for a full LCA done to ISO14040 standards, that would be dramatically more expensive and time consuming and I would recommend a partner firm for us to work with. I can put in a basic carbon footprinting element to the analysis which will give a decent picture, but again if you are looking for a formal carbon footprinting that meets for example PAS2050 then we would do that together with a specialist firm.

The purpose of this phase is not to conduct an LCA per se, but to get a useful and reliable picture of where a product's impacts lie and how it relates to the wider ecosystem, in order to identify the most effective ways to deliver improvement in environmental performance. In 2009 I will be introducing my Truecological Product Assessment Method which will overcome many of the funadamental drawbacks of the LCA and footprinting methods. Whatever method you wish to use, I have consistently found that a 'quick and dirty' approach will be more than sufficient to identify the top 90% most important factors with a good deal of confidence. Because I track the uncertainties and sensitivities we can have a good picture of where data may be lacking and adjust our impression of what needs doing accordingly. Products today have complex supply chains and highly involved and far-flung manufacturing processes, and the fact is there will always be unknowns and uncertainties and suppliers who through ignorance or fear supply inconsistent data. That's normal and no barrier to getting valuable product improvement ideas. Timing: One day of Edwin's time, usually spread over a week a two Cost: £750

Note: While I don't normally recommend this, it is feasibly possible to skip phases 2. and 3. almost entirely, collapsing them into say the afternoon of an intial morning workshop and still get a decent platform to launch the ideas generation and assessment phases to come. My pragmatic view, based on consulting experiences and also my analysis of many hundreds of eco-products, is that there is a relatively small menu of actual ennovative steps that a firm can take, and you might as well get on with the typical improvements and not worry too much about detailed quantification of the marginal benefits ...

4. Ideas Generation This stage is the key one of course, and product and process improvement ideas can range from the immediate and practical to the extremely long term and blue-sky. I typically run a one- or two-hour brainstorm session for the team, which will benefit from the effect of having people inspire ideas off each other, in short bursts separated by drawing, development and ranking sessions with further rounds of ideation and refinement as the workshop progresses. I then introduce a batch of ideas that I will have come up with myself prior to the workshop -- some of these will have been replicated by people in the room, giving them more ownership, and some will be new. We would expect 50 ideas or so at this stage. Timing: A 2 hour workshop with 2 hours of preparation and 4 hours of write-up and sketching Cost: £750 plus travel

5. Ideas Presentation and Assessment Meeting I would have written up these ideas and categorised them using my own or your standard internal methods if desired. Branding and marketing messages are something I often tackle at this stage, mocking up basic graphic design and visuals myself and tweaking and grouping the design improvements in order to better align with the more powerful marketing messages and product stories. I would present this refined set of product improvement ideas and related marketing messages to a subgroup of key decision makers rather than the whole team, at a one or two hour session where we prioritise and plan how to go forward. Timing: A 2 hour meeting Cost: £200 plus travel

6. Further Development Stages Next steps can be something I can help with or something you may wish to take back in-house to develop further. Usually 2 to 5 ideas are taken into the final phases and eventual production, requiring engineering, supplier and operational planning. This is together with further refinement of the marketing messages, the quantification and optimisation of the true environmental benefits, and potential rollout to other products within the business. Timing: As required Cost: £750 a day as required