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green and sustainable business

OECD’s toolkit for manufacturer sustainability

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It’s a very good thing when a manufacturer decides to operate in a sustainable and socially responsible manner, but knowing what to do next to implement an effective, sustainable operation is the real challenge.

That’s why the OECD’s “Sustainable Manufacturing Toolkit” is a useful place to start for businesses that are serious about implementing sustainability measures. It provides some answers to the age-old question: What do we do now?

The mission of the 34-member Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development is to “promote policies that will improve the economic and social well-being of people around the world.” The organization provides a forum in which governments can work together to share experiences and seek solutions to common problems.

“We think it is important for you to have the right tools, but also to be informed about what works,” says Andrew Wyckoff, OECD director of the Directorate for Science, Technology and Industry.

Measuring performance is a “vital first step to improvement,” he adds. The 54-page toolkit has a set of “internationally applicable, common and comparable indicators” to measure the environmental performance of manufacturing facilities in any business size, sector or country, he says.

The toolkit’s centerpiece features seven “action steps” to sustainable manufacturing, designed help companies measure, assess, improve and understand what’s needed to maintain sustainable performance.

It also makes a strong case that sustainable manufacturing creates real value for businesses. For one thing the green marketplace is worth trillions. “The global marketplace for low-carbon products is already estimated to be worth over $5 trillion and growing,” it says.

Other value points: Retailers are demanding that suppliers respond to green consumers; a green reputation drives up financial value and a little investment in greening can lead to big savings.

On the latter point, the UK’s estimates that most businesses can cut their energy bills by up to 20 percent
with only a small investment – a saving that could equate to as much as a 5 percent increase in overall profits.

The OECD’s toolkit, which includes the start-up guide and a Web Portal, is a fairly comprehensive and practical starting point that tells businesses how to improve the efficiency of production processes. And it’s all free.

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Written by William DiBenedetto

28 September, 2011 at 2:00 am

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