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The Industrial Green Game: Implications for Environmental Design and Management
Other more direct green game objectives that should be considered in product design include using less material or more energy-efficient components. Reduced use of materials translates easily to cost savings—smaller quantities of the material have to be purchased, less energy is used in its manufacture, transportation costs related to both the input materials and finished product are lowered, and there is less material to handle when the product is returned for disposal. Similarly, attention to the fate of a product, in terms of reuse or recycling, can result in product innovation. Reuse strategies that lead to reduced material costs can build brand loyalty among customers, who may be more likely to engage in repeat purchases from the original manufacturer, and provide source material to meet recycled-content requirements.
Often the most effective strategy for improving environmental quality is to use the latest production technologies and processes. More advanced technologies tend to be more efficient and can be cleaner. Chiaro (this volume) describes the environmental advantages of new smelting facilities that use more advanced technology compared with those used by older smelting facilities. The selection of a new process technology or new equipment is often the result of tradeoff among costs, effectiveness, and environmental impacts. The environmental quality of the new technology can be assessed by carefully screening chemicals used in the processes and those that are emitted during production. In many cases, equipment can be bought from a wide selection of vendors who compete on a variety of factors, including cost and environmental quality. Tradeoffs between environmental objectives and other business goals can be gauged by assessing competing vendor bids against environmental criteria.
Materials management is one of the most important aspects of managing for environmental quality. Materials selection, chemical-use evaluation, and life cycle assessments are important ways in which materials management can be improved.
Materials are generally selected because they meet certain product form and function criteria (such as strength and durability) as well as production concerns (such as manufacturability). Reuse and recyclability are increasing concerns in materials selection, and there are several examples of how materials that facilitate reuse and recycling can result in green game gains by improving environmental quality and reducing cost. In the United States, where a strong secondary market exists for refurbishable auto parts and recycled auto materials, the economic value of more than 75 percent (by weight) of a car is recovered and reused. In electronics, a high-volume industry, reusable circuit boards are being channeled to service