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Environmental Labeling: A Competitive Differentiator or Fad?

01/24/2012

From high-end sunglasses to computer tablets, the world’s leading brands are investing big dollars in product life-cycle assessments (LCA). Why are today’s top brands racing to complete their LCAs before their competitors?

Today’s tier one suppliers and many well-known, progressive brands understand the impact of their products on the environment for winning customers—differentiating their brand in the marketplace. It no longer matters if your company’s leadership cares about sustainability because now your customers do.

In general, life-cycle assessment is a way to measure the impact related to cradle-to-grave stages of any widget or product—from raw materials to product disposal. To protect lines of revenue, companies measure and disclose this impact to customers, and more recently to consumers through labeling, similar to today’s FDA labels on food.

As savvy consumers know, LCAs avoid the common, narrow outlook on a company’s sustainability practices. Instead, the LCA focuses on the end-to-end energy usage, materials input, and environmental releases of a single product (i.e. the impact of one iPad sold in the marketplace). This doesn’t mean manufacturing a product is bad, it means that measuring the impacts in order to provide a basis for efficiency improvements and goal-setting is gaining momentum as a competitive differentiator. Your competitors are not just thinking about this, they’re labeling their products to demonstrate their commitment to producing goods most efficiently—and consumers are responding.

While grocery shopping, assuming cost and quality are equal, would you choose the gallon of milk produced with less energy and emissions? Would you consider an environmental label when deciding between the two brands?

Are you using information gathered from LCAs to differentiate your products from your competitors? Please share your thoughts and comments by leaving a comment to this post.

Posted by Lia Minelli, Global Director of Enterprise Sustainability Solutions, Infor

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Ideas and insights on sustainability, energy, reliability, and maintenance.

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