Perspectives on greener product development and manufacturing from Sustainable Minds, our partners, customers and contributors.

  • A bold new standard in eco-design for electronic products

    by Richard Kubin on August 1, 2008

    One of the general criticisms about standards is that they are almost always out  of date - those leading technical innovation are usually guessing where things are going and hoping they make the right bet. 

    Given the increasing awareness and focus on sustainability and on minimizing the overall environmental impact of products across their entire life cycle, is there a useful role for standards?

    The folks involved with the creation of the International Electrotechnical Commission's draft standard for Environmentally Conscious Design (ECD) for
    Electrical and Electronic Products and Systems (IEC 62430) would answer, "absolutely!"

    The new standard, which was released in draft form for final review March 21st (the review period ends September 5th) was initiated by the delegation from Japan, but developed with the participation of technical experts from 26 additional  countries.

    In a nutshell, the standard promotes "life cycle thinking" (LCT), which is defined as the "consideration of all relevant environmental aspects during the entire life cycle of products and systems." The key elements of LCT are:

  • Sometimes, getting greener means being less brown

    by David Laituri on August 1, 2008

    I was sitting in a humid conference room at our assembler’s factory in Dong Guan, China wrapping up one of the hundreds of loose ends that seem to puddle at the final pre-production stages of a product, when it hit me – this is my product, my company, I get to decide…

  • Can the G-string save us from our lust for power?

    by Lorne Craig on August 1, 2008

    Consulting for a retail chain, I recently had the opportunity to tour the store looking for products with ‘green’ attributes. Entering the appliance section, I was faced with a serious contradiction. Here, the message seemed clear that the MORE power the appliance uses, the better. “500 watts!” boasted one blender box. “600 watts!!” screamed another. Topping the list was the Krups Motor Technik with A THOUSAND WATTS of ice-pulverizing power!!! (Don’t bother with cubes, Honey, we can buy our ice in blocks now.) This theme continued with microwave ovens, fabric steamers, hair dryers, coffee grinders, and of course – power tools.

    So how hard-wired is our need for “More Power, Scotty?” And what can replace that compulsion in an energy-hungry future?

    In one article, from a 1972 issue of Time Magazine, Social Science Professor David Klein postulated that it goes way back. “The derring-do that had survival value in frontier days is still extolled in the U.S.; yet it is obsolete. In an industrialized nation where most jobs are routine, a man cannot win status through on-the-job valor. To compensate, he surrounds himself with power tools, outboard motors, high-performance cars. These give him, at play, the feelings of control, power, masculinity and risk no longer available at work.”