Many companies are issuing sustainability policies to reduce their environmental impact and positively contribute back to society.
To meet their sustainability objectives some companies are launching eco-friendlier products that are
· recyclable or bio-degradable
· use recycled or organic raw materials, and/or
· manufactured in an environmentally neutral method
These requirements are just a few of many that Product Managers may need to consider in environmentally sustainable product design and development.
As a Product Manager there are various approaches that can be considered and adopted in your Product Management methodology for creating sustainable, eco-friendly products. These include:
Eco-efficiency: reducing the products overall environmental impact by reducing the waste of natural resources during development and after the sale and consumption of the product. For example, energy-saving appliances, water efficient shower heads, and biodegradable detergents.
Cradle to Cradle Life-Cycle: a concept that promotes a product design where the product at the end of its life-cycle can become a resource for use in another life-cycle (natural or product). This concept opposes the cradle to grave life-cycle where a product cannot be re-used, or absorbed by the natural environment without a negative impact, at the end of its life. A number of notable companies have had their products cradle-to-cradle certified from Aveda beauty products to designer furniture by Herman Miller.
ABCD Framework: seeks to incorporate “sustainable design intelligence” within organizational behaviour. The framework includes “assessing materials impact; bridging functions and people for product re-design; creating learning; and diffusing lessons learned to help organizations with future decision-making”. This framework seeks to help Product Management teams evolve with the demand for sustainable products by helping them create and re-create products with sustainability in mind.
Product Sustainability Scorecards: A checklist of sustainability requirements to be met by the product. The scorecards are also used to compare and track sustainability achievements over time. For example, Volvo Car Corporation uses a sustainability scorecard that records value creation, social and environmental responsibility activity.
As consumer attitudes and corporations change to desire a more sustainable future, so will their expectations for products that leave a lower ecological footprint. It may be a time to review whether product strategies are aligned with corporate sustainability objectives.