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A Look at "Greener Products": Product Innovation Tools

13 February 2018

The “Greener Products” blog series discusses progress made in the landscape of product sustainability, sharing insights from an Anthesis-authored chapter in the new edition of the book Greener Products: The Making and Marketing of Sustainable Brands by product sustainability expert Al Iannuzzi of Johnson&Johnson.

We begin our discussion of the advancements in greener products by considering tools for product innovation. As a case study, we’ll examine a solution introduced by RB: their Sustainable Innovation App. To understand why this tool is innovative, we need to understand the prior context that product stewardship had been operating in.

The Need

Conventionally, companies address compliance requirements by using Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) to inform product design. However, over time companies have seen an increased demand for measurement of a product’s environmental and social impact across its life cycle, and for assessment of softer metrics that are not part of traditional LCAs.  In addition, companies had the need to inform their decisions in real-time, while LCAs require a longer timeline to collect and analyze necessary inputs. Thus, a need had emerged for tools to allow non-sustainability expert, product designers, within companies to assess their products on a spectrum from product compliance to a more wholistic understanding of its life-cycle impacts. RB worked with Anthesis and web-software partner Footprinter and developed a hybrid tool that offers the capability to integrate a range of metrics across the life-cycle spectrum.

The Company

RB is a British multinational company and a global leader in health, home and hygiene products. They have 20 household name Power Brands such as Enfamil, Dettol, Lysol, Durex and Mucinex. They have ambitious sustainability goals for 2020, such as the target to derive a third of net revenue from more sustainable products.

RB collaborated with Anthesis and their software partners Footprinter to develop a custom sustainable innovation web-platform. The app allows users to compare the impacts of their product against a benchmark product and receive a pass/no-pass result.

 

Figure 5.4 Reckitt Benckiser Sustainable Innovation Calculator Scoring Method.png

Iannuzzi, Al. “Figure 5.4.” Greener Products: the Making and Marketing of Sustainable Brands, CRC Press, 2017.

Product assessments are tagged by category and brand to enable analysis across assessments. Most importantly, product designers are required to use the app to assess new product innovations in order to progress through Stage Gates. This ensures that the sustainability considerations are foundational to the design process from the very beginning.

 

Figure 5.3 App Screenshot Footprinter.png

Iannuzzi, Al. “Figure 5.3” Greener Products: the Making and Marketing of Sustainable Brands, CRC Press, 2017.

The Outcome

RB launched its Sustainable Innovation App in 2013, and it was rapidly adopted by the global R&D team and became fully integrated into the new product development process. Today, all new products at RB must complete an assessment in the app and that data is used in internal reporting and in annual reporting against RB’s targets.  There are hundreds of R&D users using the app, with thousands of assessments having been carried out.

Good news for companies interested in a similar solution:

Footprinter’s ‘Green Design tool’ is the engine behind RB’s App and it can be customized for each company, taking as little as two months to be up-and-running.  It has been rolled out for several companies across different sectors.  The combination of Footprinter’s software and Anthesis’s expertise in its configuration and in sustainability challenges across sectors means we can deliver great, easy-to-use tools and easily guide you through all the steps from specification to roll-out.

 

-based on the chapter section written by Alan Spray and Jennifer Duran

 

Additional Resources from Anthesis:

 To learn about a "streamlined" Life Cycle approaches and whether it is right for your business:

 Download our guide to streamlined Life Cycle approaches

Email Jim Fava, our product sustainability expert, to set up a consultation around your current product design process:

Free Consultation

 

Refer to Greener Products: The Making and Marketing of Sustainable Brands by Al Iannuzzi for the full scope of discussion on product sustainability best practices and advancements.

Stay tuned for the next installment in our "Greener Products" series discussing Hotspot Analysis.

 

 

 

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