One of my favorite words these days is sustainability. And lucky for me it’s cropping up all over the place and it’s music to my ears. I get especially excited when corporate giants take the word seriously and begin to work sustainability into their manufacturing process and even into product design.
One sustainability program I recently learned about comes from the chemical giant BASF. Now, for a lot of consumers, especially here in super-green Boulder, Colo., chemical company and good-for-the-earth seem like contradictory terms. But BASF is setting an example in the industry and I want to not only applaud them for it, but to brag about them in hopes that many other companies, suppliers and manufacturers follow suit.
BASF's Sustainability, Eco-efficiency, and Traceability (S.E.T.) program creates transparency along the entire supply chain so that the big-picture process can be streamlined and improved for the benefit of everyone involved. The goal is to increase profitability while improving the environmental and social impacts of a product’s life cycle.
The Eco-Efficiency Analysis is an independently certified tool for measuring sustainable development and production of a product from “cradle to grave,” explains Cristian Barcan, cofounder of S.E.T. It compares the ecological and economic aspects of alternative products or processes that fulfill a customer need. It contrasts economic value with environmental impact. And it produces an “environmental fingerprint” that illustrates how different alternatives measure up in terms of x-factors such as energy and materials consumption, emissions, toxicity, land use and potential for hazards.
The Global Traceability Network—a web-based platform from Tracetracker—offers a standardized traceability infrastructure where business partners can share information. It makes product and sustainability information available from every stage of production, processing and distribution, from source to shelf.
I remember BASF’s old slogan, “At BASF we don’t make a lot of the products you buy. We make a lot of the products you buy better.” I always liked that straightforward statement. Now I think they could say that at BASF they don’t make the industry, but they are making the industry better.