eco ramblings

a dialogue with an Eco Patriot

Archive for the ‘logistics’ Category

Keep It Simple with Signs

Posted by Luke on September 11, 2010

How do people tell the difference between compostable and non-compostable products when they are trying to figure out which bin to throw something in?  They look and feel virtually the same.  If the products aren’t embossed or printed with the word “compostable”  on them, people can’t tell.  And even if “compostable” is embossed, there’s no guarantee that the products meet compostability certification.

For some time now, I’ve been involved in this seemingly never-ending debate about establishing labeling guidelines for compostable products.  Some people have suggested that products should have a green stripe or band.  I haven’t come around on that idea.  Until someone can convince me otherwise, it’s not cost-effective, can’t be done on all product shapes and materials, and will ultimately drive up product costs while simultaneously lowering composting rates (composting programs are more successful when packaging/products are included).  Also, it doesn’t solve the problem of companies falsely claiming that their products are compostable.  That’s where laws help…

The State of California is trying to pass a bill to make it illegal for companies to claim compostability if their products don’t meet ASTM standards.  HALLELUIAH!  We’re finally starting to make some  progress.  Companies will be held accountable for their claims.  No one wants to answer to Arnold.  Actually, I take that back,

Getting back to figuring out what is compostable and what isn’t, I came across a great idea about using 3-D signs to help out consumers.  In his post, Dinesh Thirupuvanam talks about the effectiveness of using simple, visual displays to help improve waste diversion.  One route is to have a poster with pictures of the products that should be composted, but a much more effective route is to create a 3-dimensional sign in which customers see the products in real life and know what bin to put them it.  I’m a visual person, so this is a great solution for me, much better than a normal, flat poster.  What a simple, yet effective solution.

If only these could be produced on a larger scale… Shoot me an email (lvernon at ecoproducts.com) if you think you can produce these signs on a large scale for Eco-Products.  I’d love to be able to give them to our customers.

Posted in compostable, compostable products, composting, greenwashing, logistics, recycling | Tagged: , , , , , , | 3 Comments »

A Leading Example of Transparency in Sustainability

Posted by Luke on August 9, 2010

In my previous post, I talked about the role of transparency in sustainability.  One of the best examples of a company who does this is Patagonia.  Patagonia’s Footprint Chronicles allows people track the environmental impact of their products (good or bad) from product design all the way to delivery.  It’s a pretty slick interface and I encourage you to check it out.  You can see exactly where your clothes are made and what the conditions are at each of the factories.

Have you asked other clothing companies what the footprints of their items are?  I bet they don’t know the answer like Patagonia.  Being transparent helps Patagonia continue to strive for improved environmental performance while also setting a standard in the industry.

My down jacket was designed in Ventura, CA of which I can watch a video of.  The down fibers come from Hungary and I can see pictures of the origin location and conditions.  The fibers are then cleaned and processed in California before being sent to China in combination with recycled polyester for the shell.  Pictures of the factory can be viewed to witness the working conditions.  The finished product is shipped to Patagonia’s distribution center in Reno, NV.  The total process emits 7 lbs of CO2, creates 5 oz of waste, and uses 9.4 kwh of energy.

Posted in brand loyalty, China, logistics, manufacturing, shipping, sustainability | Tagged: , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Starting an Office Recycling Program

Posted by Luke on June 1, 2010

80-90% of solid waste can be recycled in the average workplace according to the EPA.  Inc. magazine recently published a how-to-guide for setting up an office recycling program.  It shows that recycling doesn’t have to be overly daunting to setup if broken into a series of small steps.  These steps include the following:

  1. Determine what can be recycled
  2. Identify where and how those items are recycled (see Earth911.com)
  3. Encourage staff participation and ensure senior leadership buy-in
  4. Train staff
  5. Arrange for disposal
  6. Retrain staff and measure progress

Here are some additional resources:

Posted in green guidelines, logistics, recycling, sustainability | Tagged: , , , | Leave a Comment »

Why didn’t I think of that?

Posted by Luke on February 8, 2010

If you ship products across the ocean by cargo ship, you’re going to say to yourself, “Why didn’t I think of that?” when you read this article

A dutch company called Cargoshell invented a collapsible shipping container.  It takes one person only 30 seconds to break it down and it occupies 1/4 of the space of a normal steel container.  It’s also much lighter which means if you’re inland you can stack several of these on top of one another and truck them back to the port in a much more fuel efficient manner.  Their composite material provides better insulation in hot temperatures, and they are equipped with floatable bags on the side if a ship ever capsizes – they will float instead of sinking your cargo to the bottom of the ocean.  If that isn’t enough bells and whistles, they come with GPS.

Posted in China, GHG, logistics, shipping | Leave a Comment »

 
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