CSC and Chemical Week recently presented findings of their 2010 Sustainability and Compliance Survey completed by over 200 Sustainability and Environment, Health, & Safety (EHS) executives in September and October 2010. The survey was complemented by 11 in-depth interviews with companies such as AkzoNobel, BASF, Braskem, Celanese, Dow, DuPont, and Syngenta, as well as industry organization SOCMA. The research results are as expected across many of the topics; for example, regulatory re
When we think of excellence in product lifecycle management (PLM) from design to end-of-life, usually the first industry segment that comes to mind is high tech/consumer electronics. Yet the chemical industry is no stranger to PLM, with significant importance placed on new product design and green chemistry, the concept of environmentally friendly design of chemical products and processes. Closely related are two industry-wide EHS performance improvement programs - Responsible Care and SOCMA's ChemStewards.
To see the value of NPDI to the long-term health of the chemical industry, we should consider these DuPont facts:
- DuPont sales from new products launched in the previous five years reached $10 billion in 2009, or 39% of revenue.
- DuPont commercialized more than 1,400 new products and applications in 2009, more new products than in any prior year and a 60% increase from 2008.
And DuPont is so focused on new products that it's even changing its definition - In 2010 the definition of “new product” will change to products commercialized within a four-year window. Making those new products successful (and profitable) requires close attention to product stewardship and green chemistry ideals. One way companies are incorporating EHS and sustainability priorities into new products is through lifecycle assessment (LCA).
In fact, at the top of the EHS and sustainability list of leading practices is "using LCA to evaluate products", with AkzoNobel, BASF, and Dow called out as examplars. LCA is in its early days at many companies, partly because of the difficulty of narrowing down environmental impacts to a single product and the difficulty of collecting the information in the first place. Today, the survey shows that the greatest integration between product stewardship and PLM occurs in the R&D formulation/material specification stage. Over the next 10 years, I expect many companies to incorporate LCA (and product stewardship) further into their PLM processes.
Below are more details on where chemical companies are today related to product stewardship, according to the CSC and Chemical Week survey:
- Just over half the companies responding to the survey indicated they are in full compliance with their global product stewardship goals.
- Two-thirds of companies who are not meeting their global product stewardship goals say a lack of investment is a problem.
- Almost 60% of companies intend to invest in product-level reporting technology planning and development over the next two years, although that investment is mostly influenced by regulatory compliance.
- Just over half the companies use spreadsheets to manage products' carbon content.
Although the progress chemical companies have made in product stewardship is at its most advanced in satisfying regulatory requirements, we do expect more advancements in process and technology to occur rapidly over the next few years, primarily because of (non-compliance) pressures such as brand, reputation, and customer demand. The very good news is that product stewardship management does appear to be getting funding in the form of resources and budget. And IT applications – in EHS, sustainability, and PLM - will be an important enabler to advancing product stewardship processes and making the connection between PLM and sustainability even stronger.