An Assessment Model for Sustainable Product Development

This source preferred by Mark Hadfield

Authors: Howarth, G. and Hadfield, M.

Editors: Charter, M.

Start date: 28 October 2002

Pages: 147-157

Publisher: The Centre for Sustainable Design

There is a need to evaluate the sustainable development aspects of existing products to identify any potential risks to the business, but also any opportunities for added value. A simple assessment model for sustainable development for existing products has been devised and evaluated within Smith & Nephew. The model (figure 2) is based on reviewing the environmental, social and economic aspects over the complete product life/value cycle. This review is based on a typical set of issues and concerns (see Figure 1).

A qualitative review method was adopted by interviewing staff from the three main functions: purchasing, manufacturing and marketing. Financial information on risks/opportunities identified were also provided. Templates for discussion and also for collecting information/data were designed for each function (Figure 3). A key element of the review was to make sure staff themselves evaluated the sustainable development aspects of their individual function. Finally, a common approach was adopted using a standard set of spreadsheets to evaluate the possible environmental, social and economic aspects to make sure all potential risks and opportunities were identified. The strengths and weaknesses of the model are described, but the model was enthusiastically accepted by staff and many potential risks have been identified and some market opportunities.

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