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Product Sustainability: The Dos, Don'ts And Business Benefits

Date: 01 July 2013

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26 pages, 8 figures

Executive Summary

In the past three years, credible sustainability strategies in product-based sectors have shifted to look beyond a firm’s own four walls to the footprint of products. The complexity of product life cycles, varying levels of influence and the sheer scale of product impacts in the supply chain, during customer use and at the end-of-life phase present new challenges. This report helps Chief Sustainability Officers and Product Managers to identify the tangible business benefits of a product sustainability strategy, understand emerging best practices and anticipate future trends in product-level sustainability. Business benefits range from significant cost savings to boosting consumer trust. Verdantix analysis, following extensive interviews with industry leaders, identifies strategic trends, business benefits and emerging best practices. It also explains how to use the three levers of action (design, supply chain and communications) to meet product sustainability goals. The report identifies enablers that maximize business benefits and analyses the future of product sustainability.

TABLE OF CONTENTS

WHAT IS PRODUCT SUSTAINABILITY? 
Sustainable Product Innovation Is A High Priority For Heads Of Sustainability
Three Sector-Based Approaches To Product Sustainability Strategy

BUSINESS BENEFITS RANGE FROM TRUST TO INNOVATION
Maintaining Trust Is At The Heart Of Consumer Product Sustainability
High-Tech Firms Pursue Innovation Opportunities On Top Of Compliance
Opportunities To Scale Procurement Hurdles Are The Big Lure For B2B Firms

HOW TO IMPLEMENT A SUSTAINABLE PRODUCT STRATEGY
Product Sustainability Strategies Should Be Shaped By Materiality And Market Research
Three Levers Of Action: Design, Supply Chain And Communications
Consumer Goods Firms Focus On Sourcing Low-Impact Materials
Integrated Ecodesign Characterizes High-Tech Firms’ Sustainability Strategies
Transparency Characterizes B2B Product Sustainability

EVOLVING CHALLENGES AND BEST PRACTICES IN PRODUCT SUSTAINABILITY
To Maximize Benefits Sustainability Needs To Be Embedded In KPIs And Processes
Methodologies And Engagement Pose Perpetual Challenges

THE FUTURE OF PRODUCT SUSTAINABILITY
Evolving Macro Landscape Will Enable A Simpler Path Towards Product Sustainability
Pockets Of True Innovation In Product Sustainability Will Inspire Next Generation Strategies

TABLE OF FIGURES

Figure 1. Importance Of Improvement In Sustainable Product/Service Innovation In 2013
Figure 2. 
Budget Growth For Sustainable Product/Service Innovation In 2013
Figure 3. 
Super Sectors Based On Life Cycle Impacts And Type Of Customers
Figure 4. 
Business Benefits Of Product Sustainability
Figure 5. 
Plan, Do, Review Steps For Product Sustainability
Figure 6. 
Business Benefits Depend On Life Cycle Impact And Customer Demand
Figure 7.
 Influence Of Action Levers Over The Life Cycle Of A Product
Figure 8. 
Challenges To Anticipate When Implementing Product Sustainability Initiatives

ORGANIZATIONS MENTIONED

Adidas, ALPHA, Amcor, Apple, Asia Pulp and Paper, AUNDE Achte & Ebels, Avantium, B&Q, BASF, Best Buy, Better Cotton Initiative, BMW, Boots UK, BT, Cadbury, Carbon Trust, Castorama, CH2M Hill, Coca-Cola, CRedit360, Danone, Dassault Systèmes, Dell, Domtar, Ecodesk, ECO Plastics, Elvis & Kresse, Environ, EPA Evea, Facebook, Fairtrade, GreenDelta, Greenpeace, GSK, H&M, Heinz, Henkel, Hitachi, HP, Huawei, IKEA, Interbrand, Interface, Jaguar Land Rover, Johnson Controls, Johnson & Johnson, Kellogg’s, Kingfisher, Lego, Levi Strauss, LG, London Zoological Society, Marks & Spencer, Maersk, Mars, Mattel, Mondi, Nestlé, Nike, Nokia, P&G, Panasonic, PE INTERNATIONAL, PepsiCo, Pfizer, Philips, PRé Consultants, Primark, PUMA, PwC, Quantis, Rainforest Alliance, Sainsbury’s, Samsung, SGW Global, Siemens, Skanska, SKF, Sony, Sprint, Sustainable Apparel Coalition, Tesco, The Sustainability Consortium, Toyota, UL Environment, Unilever, Volkswagen, Walmart, Wipro, World Resources Institute, Zumtobel