Students propose green standard for manufacturers

LONDON, Ont.: Some Canadian undergraduate student leaders are calling on manufacturers to establish a universal certification framework for sustainable performance in a report.

The recommendations, which come from student participants of IMPACT! The Co-operators Youth Conference for Sustainability Leadership include:

• Designing products using life-cycle analysis, which considers the product over its entire life (including disposal).

• Establishing a sustainability certification scheme to obtain transparency and standardization for sustainability performance.

• Incorporating more green/eco labelling to help consumers make decisions about the products they buy and whether they are environmentally friendly.

“The students have highlighted an important area where leading sustainability practices in the building sector [Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design, or LEED] can be transferred to the manufacturing sector,” says Professor Robert Klassen of the Richard Ivey School of Business at the University of Western Ontario, who participated in the conference.  “Standardizing basic measures of environmental performance is a key first step, as well as matching those to customer and public expectations. And certification implies examination of performance by reputable external auditors—which definitely pushes change.”

IMPACT! The Co-operators Youth Conference for Sustainability Leadership is a partnership of The Co-operators, the Network for Business Sustainability of the Ivey School of Business, University of Western Ontario, the University of Guelph, the University of Saskatchewan’s Centre for the Study of Co-operatives, Wilfrid Laurier University, The Natural Step Canada, The David Suzuki Foundation and AIESEC.

Click here for the report, The New Normal: Sustainable Practices your Future Employees will Demand.