FEBRUARY 24th, 2009 / 4th issue About Lumec

What does Sustainable Development really mean?

In 1987, The United Nations Commission on Environment and Development (the Bruntland Commission) defined Sustainable Development as follows:

"Sustainable development meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs. Sustainable development is about making life better for everyone. This should not involve recklessly destroying our natural resources, nor should it involve polluting the environment."

Sustainable development goes by many names: eco-design, eco-innovation, sustainable design, and so forth. The basic principle is an approach to the design of a product with special consideration for the environmental impacts of the product during its whole lifecycle.

The life cycle of a product is divided into four separate parts:

  • Procurement
  • Manufacture
  • Use
  • Disposal
In order to truly be involved in sustainable development all aspects of a product from design all the way to marketing should be analyzed at every stage for their impact on the environment (consumption of resources, emissions, etc).

For example, let's say that a company builds wind-power generators. On the surface, that seems to be the perfect example of sustainable development. However, in order for the entire endeavor to be called sustainable, many little details have to be addressed.
  • What is the environmental impact of mining for the raw materials needed to build the products?
  • How much pollution (for simplicity) will be caused by the import or the raw materials?

  • How much pollution is caused by the transformation and manufacturing processes?

  • What are the environmental impacts of transporting the finished product to the target destination?

  • What are the impacts related to the maintenance of the product during its life-cycle?
  • What are the impacts of disposal when the product reaches the end of its lifespan?
Even if an end product is labeled as 'green', it is only by taking a holistic approach that considers the entire life cycle of a product that sustainable development is achieved. When it comes to sustainable development, the end never justifies the means.

Forward us your comments or questions at: lumec.suggestions@philips.com

In this issue

RoHS from the EU to North America

ElectroStatic Discharge (ESD) free area

What does Sustainable Development really mean?


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