Walmart Pilots Earthster Life Cycle Assessment Tool
November 18, 2010
Walmart, Seventh Generation and Tetra Pak are among the companies that will pilot a new software tool to help them analyze and evaluate the environmental and social impact of their product designs and manufacturing processes.
The companies will trial Earthster 2 Turbo (E2T), a lifecycle assessment (LCA) tool with an open source database for product designers, manufacturers, suppliers and sustainability experts looking for current information on materials, energy, water, social and climate impact throughout the product life cycle.
Walmart contributed funding to the Earthster project to support a number of pilot LCAs of their private brand products. “As companies focus more on the sustainability of products they buy and sell, it’s important to have tools like Earthster available to help track products over their full life cycle” said Jeff Rice, Walmart’s sustainability director. “LCA software that creates value and makes measuring practical improves the effectiveness of reporting standards, like those of the Sustainability Consortium and the Global Packaging Project, especially when those tools are integrated with existing industry platforms like GS1.”
During a recent webinar with the three pilot companies, Earthster CEO Greg Norris demonstrated E2T, showing how companies are able to understand where their largest impacts are and how to find more sustainable alternatives. A built-in recommendations engine, drawing on environmental and climate databases, suggests user-specific options for cost-effective improvements of environmental impacts. Social impacts can be identified using the Social Hotspots Database, a resource currently unique to Earthster.
Seventh Generation has committed to be the first company to use Earthster’s interactive web visualizations to share product sustainability information on its web site for two of its product lines.
Tetra Pak will be importing a complex set of material and impact options for sustainable packaging choices. More companies across a wide range of industries -- apparel, food, building materials, automotive -- are sought as additional founding member pilot companies collaborating in user-based tool design and contributing to the data commons. “E2T gives us and our customers the opportunity to contribute to and benefit from a growing body of knowledge that will help everyone make better decisions in the future,” said David Cockburn from Tetra Pak
Consumer information is Seventh Generation's interest in E2T, according to Dave Rapaport, who leads sustainability for the company. "We are excited to have the opportunity to pilot E2T to provide a graphical display of product life cycle impacts to consumers through our website. We believe strongly in transparency and feel it is our responsibility to help consumers understand the lifecycle environmental and social impacts of the products they buy. “
Earthster’s sustainability data commons is being developed to spur product innovation for sustainability. “Earthster brings open source software and linked open data into a world which is primarily inhabited right now by proprietary software and data,” said Norris. “We’re thrilled to have Walmart, Seventh Generation and Tetra Pak participate in the development of a unique open system where data is being developed in a bottom-up, crowd-sourced, exponentially-increasing way, broadening scope, detail, and the geographic coverage of LCA data resources in the world.”
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