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

The SM Transparency Report™ Program – The Genesis

By Sustainable Minds on September 17, 2014

A step change innovation in the PCR/EPD process to standardize, harmonize and make product transparency reporting understandable and meaningful. It’s also faster, scalable, cost efficient and user-friendly.

Now that environmental performance is a standard criteria in product design, shouldn’t greener be a standard part of how products are marketed?

We wondered in B2B marketing, why is there typically one document describing product features and benefits—and a separate technical document ONLY about the product’s environmental performance? Don’t manufacturers have enough product literature to manage already? And don’t customers already have too many pieces of disparate information to put together to make purchase decisions?

If environmental performance is to be operationalized into the way products are designed and marketed, it requires an integrated mindset, process and technology solution.

The SM Transparency Report Program is based on the following ideas:

  1. The increased demand for transparency and greener products requires a comprehensive solution. Incremental changes to existing processes won’t move the market. A complete solution rethinking each component is required.

  2. Better design makes the complex clear. Environmental performance information based on life cycle assessment (LCA) is mostly incomprehensible to anyone other than an LCA professional. Traditional environmental product declarations (EPDs) are technical documents designed by and for technical people. That’s why the information is mostly not relevant to a purchase decision.

    Make information understandable and meaningful, with numbers to back it up, so anyone can understand what a manufacturer is doing to improve the life cycle environmental performance of its products and then be able to make an informed greener purchase decision. Help your customers do more than ‘check a box.’

  3. Provide real advantages over how things are done today. If you’re going to ask people to do something new and different in their business, provide real benefits like better, faster and more affordable.

  4. Allow for continual improvement based on learning and engagement. Innovation drives evolution. Trying to get everything 100% right with 100% buy-in up front makes it very difficult to get started. The market wants information now. A new process is required.

  5. Focus on the benefits the solution provides to all stakeholders. Reduce the focus on standards, process and terminology while making it evident that the credibility is baked in. Make the process user-friendly, transparent and understandable. Use the requisite industry standards and guidelines, have internationally recognized organizations certify, don’t create a proprietary system or black box methodology.

    It’s all about the Transparency Report. The product category rule (PCR) is a means to an end. Today’s PCR processes deliver environmental product declarations (EPDs) that result in checking a box. Manufacturers making greener products should be rewarded for their efforts. We believe the focus should be on helping manufacturers use environmental performance information to create preference for their brands and products.

    That’s why our motto is: ‘Keep the science, re-engineer the process.’

Watch for our next blog post: The SM Transparency Report™ Program – What makes it a step change innovation in the PCR/EPD process