Greening Your Product Line - Where to Start

Lead Author: Dr. Jim Bowyer

Publish date: 01.23.2008


In recent years, more and more companies have been getting on the green bandwagon. This trend is impacting the playing field and adding new dimensions to the competitive marketplace. Do any of these scenarios sound familiar? 


  • A locally-based retail distributor of building materials, that has up to now maintained healthy sales in the face of stiff competition, is experiencing erosion of its customer base following the introduction of a new big-box product labeling program that identifies key products as ecologically sound. The company needs to find a way to tap into consumer interest in environmentally responsible products in order to regain lost customers and attract new ones.
  • A specialty products manufacturer announces a major program to reduce the environmental impacts of its operations, gaining preferential purchasing endorsements from large-volume purchasers. As a competitor you are caught unprepared and now need to devise an effective marketing response.
  • The board of directors of a company producing office paper products views imposition of a carbon tax as likely in the near future and directs company officers to develop a proactive plan for minimizing tax exposure. The question now facing company officers is how to quantify carbon emissions, and how to identify where such emissions are occurring throughout the firms manufacturing and shipping operations.
  • A new title – “environmental manager,” and a new set of responsibilities – “improve environmental performance“ are awarded to a production superintendent who, upon reflection, realizes that he has no idea what to do next.


The learning curve to achieving improved environmental performance can be steep, and a strategy of waiting for competitors to act first can translate into significant delay. This article provides a framework for assessing environmental performance and tackling the associated learning curve.