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December 6, 2021

Is 3D printing really sustainable?

"The AM industry can and needs to do more."

It was an astute and well-timed comment from Stefanie Brickwede in an interview from our recent rail feature that prompted the question which headlines this very article. Brickwede, Head of Additive Manufacturing at Deutsche Bahn, suggested we need to give AM companies a wakeup call “to focus more on ecological sustainability and not just greenwashing.”
Brickwede isn’t the first to use the term “greenwashing”, the idea that a product can be marketed as sustainable without having the credentials to back it up, in reference to the AM sector. The topic has increasingly found its way into conversations amongst those in the industry who want to ensure AM’s green credentials are more than just buzzwords and backed up by real data.

Analysing the data

It’s easy to think of AM as sustainable. You’re adding material where needed, theoretically using less than that of a subtractive method. With the advent of distributed manufacturing, you’re hopefully producing much closer to the point of need, reducing emissions along the way, and through digital warehousing, only producing those parts when you need them. With increased freedom of design, you can reduce weight, potentially saving costs and energy over a part’s lifecycle. But it’s not so clear cut.
“It's like a double- edged sword,” Runze Huang, PhD, CEO & Co-founder at ExLattice, Inc. and author of a number of papers focusing on the energy and emissions saving potential of AM, says. “The unique advantages of AM, such as customisation, distributed production, flexibility, and multi-material applications, are creating complexity and unique challenges in the end-of-life of AM products. It needs to be considered more and addressed better now as we still have time before AM entering the mainstream of manufacturing and causing the sustainability issues 20 years later.”
Speaking on a recent episode of the Additive Insight podcast, AM consultant Phil Reeves echoed Huang’s thoughts and expressed the need to consider the full lifecycle of an AM part.
“You have to look at full lifecycle, end- to-end sustainability and I think we do have some issues,” Reeves explains, “certainly on the polymer side, our polymer chemistry which is maybe not as green as they could be; the actual additive manufacturing processes themselves are not as energy efficient as they could be – they haven’t been designed around energy efficiency. If you look at some of them, you pre-heat a significant amount of material to just below its melting temperature, you hit it with a laser – that’s an incredibly inefficient laser – you lose lots of energy in the room, you end up with a cake of material that you then cool down for 24 hours. That’s not an efficient manufacturing process.”
Reeves suggests the next industry trend will need to be around “efficiency” of machines, supply chains and materials but also cautions that if we want to encourage the use of AM for production, not just prototyping, then the industry will need to keep up with environmental legislation.
Reeves continues: “The worry is that we won’t and at some point, somebody will turn around in the corporate social responsibility group of a large car company and say, ‘that material you’re using in prototyping, we can’t use that anymore, we’re going to be legislated against it,’ so I do think we have to think, as an industry, seriously about sustainability.”
Pierre Forêt, Head of AM at industrial gases and engineering company Linde, agrees that we need to be talking more about efficiency. Linde has developed technologies to retain the quality of metal powder prior to printing and ensure optimum atmospheric conditions within the print chamber. Forêt says the biggest potential drawback to AM is energy usage – both in the type and volume of energy it consumes.
“While no one solution can claim to make additive manufacturing more sustainable than traditional production methods, through a combination of technologies – particularly associated to the use of atmospheric gases – the process can be assured to have more reliable, repeatable quality outcomes,” Forêt says. “Once this is achieved, the advantages of additive manufacturing are, at the very least given the potential to contribute to more sustainable production methods.”

Managing materials

Materials are just one part of the value chain where the sustainability question lingers.
“Material reuse within the process is still problematic,” Alex Kingsbury, AM Industry Fellow & Engagement Lead at RMIT University, offers. “There’s no doubt that the printing process, whether it’s metal or polymer, leads to a degradation of the material and limits its reusability. There are also support structures, a necessary evil in many cases, that are waste products. In this respect, metal is much better than polymer, as the metal recycling supply chain is more flexible than the polymers recycling supply chain. For example, a polymer 3D printed product does not bear the universal recyclability symbol. Even if it does, the polymer recycling supply chain is still highly problematic. Metal at the very least, can be channelled through the scrap metal trade. We are also still yet to really properly reach upstream of 3D printed products and properly assess the raw material sources, for example, the metal powder that you use in your 3D printing process. Where does it come from? What is the carbon footprint of that process? Was it made using a fossil fuel energy source like coal or gas? Or was the electricity source hydropower?”
Last year Materialise introduced a solution to tackle material reusability. Bluesint PA12 makes it possible to print with 100% reused powder, versus an estimated 50% currently capable with polymer laser sintering. Following the launch of its Bluesint PA12 printing service back in June, Materialise proposes that if half of all SLS PA 12 parts were printed using Bluesint, this would reduce CO2 emissions from 3D printing by more than 2,800 tons per year.
“The AM industry can and needs to do more,” Andreas Vandyck, Sustainability Coordinator at Materialise, tells TCT. “A first step is for companies to organise themselves in a sustainable way, by considering the impact of their decisions on their workers, customers, suppliers, community, and the environment. But in order to make truly significant contributions, companies need to invest in innovative technologies that help to advance their respective industries."
The company recently conducted a lifecycle analysis with BASF for the production of one million pairs of midsoles. The results showed that for large-series production of identical products, AM had a bigger impact on the depletion of fossil fuels compared to conventional manufacturing. But if you consider smaller series production, the results start to tip in AM’s favour.
The challenges, realities & potential of sustainable 3D printing
Vandyck adds: “Across the board, “climate change”, clearly stands out as the largest contributing factor for the negative impact of AM technologies. If we look at the carbon footprint, the biggest contributors are the energy consumption of the printing process and emissions related to the production of materials. In comparison, the traditional photo-polymerisation process demands the least amount of energy.”
On the metals side, Sebastian Richter, Head of Powder Metals at thyssenkrupp Materials Trading is optimistic and while he agrees greenwashing is an issue, he believes metals are in a better position.
“Manufacturers are now using metal powders to build structures, which means much lower material consumption,” Richter tells TCT. “Additive also allows manufacturers to have design freedom that can lead not only to product and process improvement but also low waste. You can’t achieve this with conventional processes.”
Thyssenkrupp Materials UK is the UK distributor for metal powders from raw materials specialist thyssenkrupp, including sustainably sourced stainless steel, aluminium, titanium and nickel-based alloys. As a provider of services to the AM industry too, Richter suggests we must also take a closer look at AM hardware.
“As metal powders are low waste and recyclable materials, potential challenges in terms of sustainability for the additive manufacturing industry may lie with the 3D printing equipment,” Richter says. “Given this is still a fairly new industry, we will probably observe further optimisations of the 3D printers in order to make them more efficient and more sustainable, for example, by improving the filter technology, which is currently complicated to recycle.”
ExOne, for example, is confident that its metal binder jet technology can be considered green, stating that more than 95% of powder can be reused directly in the process via a simple reconditioning step. The company also says that part consolidation and design benefits afforded via binder jet can on average result in 30-50% weight savings, which, in the case of the automotive industry can deliver significant reductions in energy use.
“We have no doubt that our technology is more sustainable than traditional manufacturing methods, such as machining, which generates tons of toxic waste as coolants are applied to cutting tools shaving away sometimes as much as 95% of the stock material to create a part,” Sarah Webster, Chief Marketing Officer at ExOne, says. “While there are new innovations in green coolants, most of those in use today during machining remain petroleum based and nothing in the binder jetting process comes close to the volume or type of waste generated during traditional subtractive machining processes.”
Webster stresses that green benefits can also be found outside of end-use parts, namely in tooling (the company recently launched its X1 Tooling portfolio off the back of its acquisition of Freshmade 3D) where the ability to print tools directly can also reduce waste.
For those metals that aren’t so easy to recycle, 6K Additive has developed a technology which specifically addresses the metal AM market. It’s UniMelt Plasma technology is said to turn virtually any scrap metal into 3D printable material, that includes new materials too. With up to 3 million pounds of titanium capable of being upcycled per year at its dedicated ISO9001 facility, Frank Roberts, President 6K Additive says you can really see the momentum building.
“It really means something to the industry,” Frank Roberts, President 6K Additive, says. “Every facet of who we're dealing with is really starting to ask these key questions and so it's critical that we keep the momentum, that we develop best practices to make sure that we're upcycling all the material that we can, and if it can't be upcycled and go back into the industry, that there's a good home that it's upcycled and going into another industry as an alloy addition, for example. But this is the time where we need to make sure we keep the momentum and keep the messaging strong and really make sure we focus on proper solutions for where these by- products are going.”

Getting serious

Proof that serious attention is being paid can be seen in the hiring of new personnel dedicated to sustainability. EOS’ Head of Sustainability Björn Hannappel, for example, joined in January 2020 and sees the company’s main purpose as “leading the world into responsible manufacturing with industrial 3D printing.”
“Compared to established manufacturing processes like casting or injection moulding, AM is still a rather young and niche technology and cannot currently benefit from the scale effects of local production of raw materials, such as powder, for example,” Hannappel says. “This is certainly a topic, but an area that is improving and will have a positive effect on the decentralised production of AM parts. Additionally, at present there is not a lot of data available to calculate the positive impact additive manufacturing is having. At EOS, we also believe there is a need for more research in areas such as the closed materials cycle, for example, the recyclability of AM parts.”
DyeMansion has also announced its intent to hire a sustainability lead next year. The AM post-processing specialist is one of the first companies on board Europe's mission to become the first climate-neutral continent and on a recent episode of TCT’s Additive Insight podcast, Co-founder and CEO Felix Ewald shared how it is embedding sustainability into every discussion. While Ewald admits sustainability is a complex issue, he remains optimistic about the “huge potential” the AM industry could have, particularly around rethinking global supply chains and decentralised manufacturing.
“I'm afraid that sometimes in our industry, it's easy to say that 3D printing has a great potential impact in terms of sustainability,” Ewald cautions. “But then we should also take it seriously. And I think that's the big task that we have as an industry, not only talking about it but really [taking] action.”

The next generation

While AM is by no means new, it is still a fairly young industry. Amongst those asked, there is a common belief that the industry can use this to its advantage.
“As an emerging industry, we still have chances to establish the right way at the beginning,” Huang offers. “Of course, we have our own limitations in addressing the sustainability challenges and AM is not a panacea. But I feel the AM industry has potential to be set up as a good example in addressing sustainability challenges as a whole to push traditional manufacturing industries to do more. This will benefit our whole industry for more opportunities and faster growth.”
New people coming into the sector are also keen to encourage the topic of sustainability, as Ewald shares:
“We are still a young company and many people really want to work in start-ups, and in job interviews there is always the question coming up, ‘What we are doing in terms of sustainability?’ It's really a topic that is pushed by our team and our employees and we take it really seriously.”
They’re not the only ones. The Additive Manufacturer Green Trade Association (AMGTA) just announced its first LCA research project with the Rochester Institute of Technology’s Golisano Institute for Sustainability, which will compare the lifecycles and environmental impact of an additively manufactured and traditionally manufactured jet engine low pressure turbine (LPT) bracket. The study will include up to 18 different environmental indicators to quantify the environmental impacts of the part and is expected to be published next spring.
While the task at hand becomes increasingly urgent, with AM uniquely equipped to deliver if we can get it right, Vandyck believes that urgency might actually be just what’s needed.
“The climate crisis is an existential threat. It comes with a sense of urgency that forces us to skip incremental steps forward. Instead, it requires us to drastically rethink the way we develop and create products. And when we dare to think from this bigger perspective, we start to truly innovate and create room for new technologies. Such a climate of radical innovation presents opportunities for AM."

Learn more at TCT Mag. By Laura Griffiths 11 November 2021.

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category : Topics

December 1, 2021

[CITIES] Is Beijing becoming more eco-friendly?

Imagine living in a city with plenty of green spaces, solar-powered buildings, and rooftop gardens, and more cyclists than parking spaces. Does it sound like a futuristic dream to you? Well, Beijing has been actively involved in green living practices and building green technology in recent years, which makes us wonder: Is the city becoming more eco-friendly? In short, yes. Read on to find out why.
More people are getting around by bike than by car
More people in Beijing are cycling now than ever before. In fact, the city has made an effort to make cost-efficient transportation more accessible to the public.
Since the beginning of this year, Beijing's total number of bike rides reached 638 million. On average, there are about 2.42 million trips by bicycle happening in the city each day, over 40 percent more compared to 2020. The city has even been promoting this growing trend by building cycling highways stocked with sufficient amenities along the route.
More vehicle charging stations are popping up citywide
While a typical vehicle produces an average of 4.6 metric tons of carbon dioxide each year, an electric vehicle generates zero. It seems like Beijing has been privvy to this, with a growing number of EV charging stations popping up around the city -- roughly 230,000 as of this year, to be exact.
Not too long ago, Universal Studios Resort event saw 901 EV charging stations added to its parking lot, meaning even big name brands are jumping on the trend.
A Coal Ban went into effect here last year
Beijing has relied heavily on coal for electricity and heating in the past, but this is slowly changing.
The city’s battle against pollution started back in 2014 when the government announced plans to ban coal use within its six main districts by the end of 2020. In fact, the city’s coal consumption has decreased dramatically from about 12.8 million tons in 2015 to 1.8 million tons in 2020.
As a result, Beijing has seen a big drop in heavily polluted days, with last year having over 80 percent less polluted days than in 2013.
More and more green architecture
When we are talking about sustainable cities, green architecture is often a key factor in determining how eco-friendly a city is. Beijing has been pushing for a greener lifestyle for the future.
Initiatives range from building the city’s first carbon-neutral themed park to becoming the first country in history to host a Winter Olympics that uses 100 percent clean energy, all that signaling the city’s efforts to reduce resource use and to lower greenhouse emissions.

Learn more at the Beijinger, 18 November 2021, by Irene Li.

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category : Topics

November 26, 2021

[FOOD] South Africa: Why Supporting Small-Scale Farmers and Eating Locally is Climate Smart #AfricaClimateCrisis

Cape Town — Every day, the food we consume connects us to a vast global network of food manufacturers, farmers, retailers, traders, and many others involved in bringing food from the farm to the table. Yet this global food system is a core part of some of the world's biggest challenges.
The agriculture industry plays a crucial role in an economy - from the food we eat to the fabric we wear. It's also an important source of livelihood for many people.
Since the outbreak of Covid-19, there has been a significant decline in the number of farmers in South Africa, according to a report by the Competition Commission. It says that small-scale and emerging farmers were particularly hard hit by poor yields and low productivity, and struggled to grow their operations. Barriers include access to finance, infrastructure, and routes to market. At the same time, the report said that since the onset of the Covid-19 pandemic, there has been a global trend towards the localisation of farming and shorter supply chains where customers are increasingly buying local because of climate and environmental concerns, food safety, quality, and logistical considerations. Beyond the benefits for consumers, a trend towards local farming inevitably favours small-scale farming.
And for those who remained - particularly small-scale farmers - there are continuing challenges.
For example, during the country's hard lockdown at the start of 2020, small-scale farmers were not regarded as an essential service, thus preventing them from accessing their farms until the government introduced permits. Some farmers were forced to leave part of their harvest to rot in the fields. This contributed to food insecurity, worsened poverty, and unemployment contributing to hunger and crime.
However, some farmers made changes to adjust to the new situation. Many began selling to street vendors, small business owners, and even direct selling in their communities. This confirmed the importance of these informal markets. Even though the number of informal traders increased exponentially due job losses small farmers were still able to sell their goods.
So why buy local?
In recent years, more people in Cape Town, South Africa, have started eating locally sourced food. While it is widely believed that eating locally sourced food is better for your health, there are many other benefits to consuming what's grown or raised in our backyards.
Many believe food grown locally tastes better and lasts longer - and they have the peace of mind of knowing where their food comes from and how it was grown.
Some produce, especially fruits and vegetables, lose nutrients during transportation and storage, making local options usually more nutritious. Because smaller farmers don't have the pressure to bulk supply, they can leave their food on the vine to ripen longer, giving you better quality for your money.
For instance, a farm in Philippi, about 30 minutes from Cape Town, delivers fresh produce to the city's grocery stores and food markets every day. The Philippi Horticultural Area is a key food production hub for the city and here small-scale farmers typically sell their produce within 24 hours of picking it, whereas fruits and vegetables purchased through conglomerates will sit for weeks until there is enough to mass distribute.
Locally grown foods don't have to travel long distances to reach you, so you're actually improving air quality and reducing pollution. You'll also notice that local food producers don't have to vacuum pack and double-seal their goods so they remain fresh for as long as possible, hence less packaging helps reduce the amount of plastic we discard. Supporting local farmers who use sustainable practices also benefits the environment and helps reduce your carbon footprint.
Finally, for others, supporting community economies and fostering relationships is important. Small businesses benefit more from spending money locally rather than patronising large businesses that tend to prioritize profits over employees and customers. By doing this you create and maintain farming jobs in the local community, which allows the economy to thrive by creating a positive spending loop within the community.
Sophumla Ntoyabo, a small-scale organic farmer in Khayelitsha, Cape Town, says interpersonal connection is what makes business special. Having relationships with the local businesses and individuals helps them sell and their produce, resulting in them cutting losses. However, they still struggle to access or penetrate the local markets to their best potential. So to cut losses if markets don't buy, they have adopted a model of not harvesting to sell - rather they now sell harvest that's still on the ground. When a buyer wants it, they harvest it on that particular day.
But Inseason Mobile Market says some farmers lack consistency and variety. And some don't produce vegetables that are not in season, which means infiltrating the big markets is hard. Even though demand is growing, the sector has been hard to break into for some investors. Inseason is dedicated to supporting wellness and making healthy eating accessible to everyone by offering fresh organic vegetables and delicious fruits - hand-picked, and sustainably produced by local farmers.
Why should we care about small farms?
Agriculture is the backbone of Africa's economy and accounts for the majority of livelihoods across the continent. But climate change also puts farmers at risk.
A number of key risks to agriculture include reduced crop productivity associated with heat and drought stress, pest damage, disease damage, and flood impacts on food system infrastructure, leading to serious adverse effects on global food security and livelihoods. However, across Africa, a growing number of smallholder farmers are tapping into digital technologies to access information, services, and products to improve efficiency, boost crop yields and increase incomes.
More than 80% of the world's 600 million farming households are smallholders who own less than two hectares of land, says the United Nations' Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO).
Small-scale farmers have been identified as a sector that will drive economic growth, but the farmers lack financial support to run a profitable farm and the pandemic has worsened many of the existing challenges and inequalities of the global food system.

Learn more at Here.

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category : Topics

November 17, 2021

International Green Purchasing Network is Endorsed in New Edition of UNEP Sustainable Public Procurement Implementation Guidelines

The Sustainable Public Procurement Implementation Guidelines (SPP Guidelines) is newly released by United Nations Environment Programme. In this edition of the SPP Guidelines, it recognizes the positive support from the national, regional and international SPP networks. The International Green Purchasing Network-IGPN is endorsed as an example of regional level to facilitate SPP implementation by promotion of environmentally friendly products and green purchasing.

The SPP Guidelines aim to provide a common vision, language and framework to guide stakeholders on how to effectively pave the way towards SPP implementation. It uses a specific and adaptable approach, referred to as the ‘SPP Approach’, refined on the basis of the experiences and feedback received from countries using this methodology. It incorporates a large number of best practices and case studies mostly gathered in the countries since 2012, highlights of UNEP’s monitoring activities extracted from the 2013 and 2017 Global SPP Reviews or from the first data collection exercise of SDG 12.7.1. The Guidelines can be used as a step-by- step guide on how to set up and strengthen a country’s long-term work on SPP, and is also intended to be a point of reference and inspiration on sustainable procurement in general.

Download the report here.

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category : Topics

November 2, 2021

2021 Procura+ Award finalists unveiled

The jury of the 2021 Procura + Awards has revealed the nine finalists for this year. The initiative, supported by ICLEI Europe along with the EU-funded Procure2Innovate project, recognises excellence in sustainable procurement.
In the category ‘Procurement Initiative of the Year’ the jury has picked the Province of Zeeland (the Netherlands) and the City of Helsinki (Finland). The former is praised for using the SDG’s as the compass of all its purchases, while the Finnish capital is using carbon footprint criteria to promote sustainable public procurement, taking into account the various climate impacts.
The Supreme Audit Office of the City of Prague (Czech Republic) is a finalist in the category ‘Innovation Procurement of the Year’ for including Building Information Modeling (BIM) to build its first permanent seat with the lowest appropriate life-cycle costs. The City is joined by the Santiago de Compostela City Council in Spain, which demonstrated its ability to develop innovative solutions for its citizens, while respecting the complex and specific needs of being a World Heritage City.
In the category ‘Outstanding Innovation Procurement in ICT’ two Spanish authorities are competing for the win. Servicio Murciano de Salud of Murcia (Spain) used a co-creation model to improve communication between doctors and epilepsy patients, bringing together procurers from three different regions. The Barcelona Provincial Council used innovation procurement to improve its telecare services.
Finally, in the category ‘Sustainable Procurement of the Year’, the City of Copenhagen (Denmark) introduced social and environmental considerations into its food procurement, guided by the UN Sustainable Development Goals. The Agglomeration of Dinan (France) created a tender for cleaning services, aiming to reduce harm to the environment, support access to employment and to enable companies of different sizes to apply. They are joined by the South Moravian Region (Czech Republic), which identified the need to build a new sanitarium for children with respiratory diseases and challenged the market with the ambition of making it as most aesthetic, user-friendly, and energy-efficient as possible.
The 2021 Procura + Awards will be awarded soon at a special ceremony for the winners.

Find more information click here.

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category : Topics

November 2, 2021

First-ever UN Food Systems Summit makes big promises for big action

On Thursday 23 September, civil society, farmers, youth, Indigenous Peoples, Member States and many others joined the first-ever UN Food Systems Summit. In the months leading up to the Summit, over 100,000 people discussed challenges and solutions to move towards more sustainable food systems. Many of these proposed solutions have been transformed into concrete commitments, which are housed in a dedicated registry around the five Action Areas of the Summit.
In his summary statement, UN Secretary-General António Guterres spoke of going beyond the Summit, and outlined some of the coordination mechanisms for doing so. At the global level, working across the UN system and with partners, the Rome-based Agencies — FAO, IFAD, WFP — will jointly lead a coordination hub that collaborates with, and draws upon, wider UN system capacities to support follow-up to the Food Systems Summit. These partners will include non-governmental actors, such as civil society and business.
While such ambitious commitments demonstrate the willpower moving forward, some major stakeholders warn that lack of attention to nature and climate could undermine progress towards SDGs. There is a certain urgency to promoting and facilitating nature-positive production practices to reverse the devastating impacts on biodiversity of current food production.
The One Planet network is eager to find opportunities to collaborate on the follow-up actions to this important Summit.

Learn more at UN News center.

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category : Topics

October 29, 2021

[SCP] Research: How to Position a Luxury Brand as Sustainable

Harvard Business Review, 08 September 2021
By: Gwarlann de Kerviler, Elodie Gentina, Nico Heuvinck

With a growing demand for companies to produce products that meet high ESG standards, luxury goods companies need to find a way to present their products as something other than markers of wealth and social status, all while preserving these cachets. This article argues that they can best square this circle by focusing on authenticity through their commitment to the craftsmanship and art of their employees in their customer engagement. The authors present French luxury goods company Hermès as a case in point.
A 2018 global survey by Accenture Strategy of 30,000 consumers in 35 countries indicated that nearly two-thirds of them (62%) find brands with high ethical values attractive. That’s potentially a problem for companies in the luxury sector, because people often see luxury goods as a wasteful self-indulgence and potentially damaging to the environment, especially if they are highly engineered or decorative.
Traditional approaches to improving a company’s ethical positioning — for instance, by adopting fair labor practices and using recycled or organic materials — may not work well for luxury brands. To begin with, marketers need to be careful to send the right signals on being eco-friendly to avoid customers interpreting sustainability messages as greenwashing. Also, past research suggests that consumers may negatively evaluate luxury brands that engage in corporate social responsibility (CSR). Other studies argue that consumers may even perceive that eco-friendly luxury products carry less status-increasing social capital than non-sustainable luxury products do. What’s more, focusing on the environment does not give luxury brands much room to differentiate themselves from non-luxury brands, which have long been active in sustainability.
We suggest a more intriguing strategy: focus on authenticity. We build our recommendation from our recent research, conducted among more than 1,900 customers for different high-end product categories (watches, perfumes and design furniture), that gives insights on how and why luxury brands can use authenticity to communicate their ethics.
Let’s begin by looking at how brands can signal authenticity before digging deeper into the results of our studies.

The Two Types of Authenticity
Consumers perceive brand and product authenticity in two ways: it is authentic if it can claim to be the “original real thing” or if it corresponds to a “genuine ideal.” This gives two sets of cues that marketers can use to signal authenticity: indexical and iconic.
Indexical cues of authenticity. Here, marketers signal a product’s authenticity by establishing direct connections with its origins and makers. The fact that a piece of luxury furniture was designed by an Italian artist, produced by local artisans in an Italian village, and made of Italian wood and silk indicate that a it is truly an authentic Italian product. Here, the perception of authenticity is based on objective information (such as certificates of origin or the nationality of the designer).Iconic cues of authenticity. In this form, the product is a reproduction or a re-edited version of a past product — a new product whose design is based on the maker’s subjective perception of the original’s defining characteristics. In other words, if your Italian furniture maker opens a branch in France, with designers and producers inspired by the creative vision of the Italian team, the products of this branch could be perceived as authentic if key elements of the marketing mix evoked the original product — for example, if the shape, color, or materials of the products in France resembled those of the original Italian products.
In our first two studies, with almost 500 consumers in the US, we showed how the two types of cues affected perceptions of whether the product was considered as ethical. Respondents were confronted with a designer chair or high-end perfume that was either described as being the first original edition and came with an official certificate of origin (indexical cue) or described as a second edition by the same brand that paid tribute, was inspired by the first original version, and came with an official brand booklet (iconic cue).
The feedback showed that when a brand communicates a message on its authenticity with indexical cues, consumers perceive the brand as being more ethical than when it relied on iconic cues. This difference cannot be ascribed to the “intensity” of perceived authenticity because we also found that the two messages did not differ in the level of authenticity they evoked: iconic products were seen as just as authentic as indexically cued ones. So, why are products using indexical cues seen as more ethical?

It’s All About Passion
To answer that question, we conducted additional studies for our research, with more than 700 consumers, in the context of high-end perfume once again. We found that respondents perceived products with indexical cues of authenticity (original versions) as made with more effort and care than the products using iconic cues (authentic reproduction). This was because original versions, by definition, are new and different, which means that more creative investment must have gone into them. It was this perception, of putting more efforts and love, we suspected, that contributed to the sense that these products were more ethical than iconically authentic products.
To confirm this hypothesis, we ran another study, again with more than 700 consumers, in which we included strong signals that our iconic product had required as much care through creativity, design, and craftsmanship as its indexical counterpart — by, for example, highlighting the number of years taken developing the iconic product and the number of design ideas submitted and reviewed even for the second series. When these signals were included, ethical perceptions of iconically authentic products turned out to be about the same as for indexically authentic products. Thus, there was a clear link between how much effort and love the manufacturer was seen to put into the product and how likely consumers were to perceive it as ethical.

So What Should Marketers Do?
Giorgio Armani once observed that luxury brands should get back to the value of authenticity. Our findings seem to confirm his insight. A case in point is the luxury brand Hermès, one of a handful that have enhanced people’s ethical perceptions of the brand. They did this by shifting from classic marketing approaches to adopt a strategy focused on authenticity. The key is to have real people making the link between the past and the present, with an artistic eye.
The human touch. Many luxury brands already link to their origins, as their manufacturing is often based close to where they came from. They also retain artisanal manufacturing processes, with products handcrafted by dedicated, expert artist-craftsmen, motivated by an intrinsic desire to create the best product. But Hermès goes further than most. Every year, for example, it organizes a public event, “Hermès Beyond the Walls,” to celebrate the passion of the artisans behind their products, showcasing both their original creations and those inspired by their classics. During the event, Hermès artisans handcraft unique pieces in real time in front of visitors, explaining how they work and answering questions. This makes it very clear that making each product requires many different steps and hours of precision manual. Hermès creative director, Pierre-Alexis Dumas, observes that customers who attend the event come away with a deep relationship with the product: “[they feel] the presence of the person who crafted the object.”
Forward-looking continuity. Most luxury goods manufacturers will emphasize tradition — Swiss watchmaker Patek Philippe, for example, presents its products as tomorrow’s heirlooms. This communication works better, however, when it focuses on how today’s craftsman are part of a long tradition of craftsmanship. Emphasizing a brand’s closeness to its historic roots — for instance, the fact that it may employ several generations of craftsman from the same families — demonstrate the commitment of both today’s workers and their employers to the traditions of their craft.
But it’s also important not to get caught in the past. The best luxury goods companies understand that they cannot live off or simply re-make their classic products forever; they risk losing connection with the creation and love that went into those products and will come to be seen as exploitative — and in the end maybe less ethical. At Hermès, traditions are kept relevant and linked to passion through frequent collaborations with contemporary creators and designers and even customers. For example, Laurent Goblet, a saddler at Hermès for forty years, worked closely with German dressage champion Jessica von Bredow-Werndl in designing the famous Arpège saddle. Hermès also drew on the skills of its traditional glassmakers to produce watches with diamond indexes embedded in sapphire crystal, which appear to hover above the inner workings. This was a pioneering move in watchmaking and involved the application of traditional skills to achieve a modern design.
Dedication to the artistic community. Above and beyond the design and manufacture of its own products, luxury goods firms can show passion and care to raise their ethical profile by supporting the development of a broader community of artists. A good example is provided by the Hermès Corporate Foundation, which offers residencies to artists. This gives them the opportunity to work with Hermès craftworkers and designers to explore social themes from multiple perspectives and create art works using the materials used for Hermès products (such as wood, silk, paper, crystal and leather). For example, Bianca Argimon, a Belgian artist in residence at the Hermès textile holding company in the Lyon region, was interested in printing on silk muslin, a material that is particularly delicate. With support from the Hermès Foundation, she produced a silk print describing the excesses of consumer society, inspired by a famous painting of Hieronymus Bosch.
Hermès received a high ranking on the CSRHUB Consensus ESG Ratings of 89%, which could be linked to the brand capacity to take advantage of important authenticity cues. In addition, we carried an additional ad hoc study in the U.S., in which Mturk respondents were asked to compare Hermès and its main high fashion competitors (including Chanel, Dior, Prada, Burberry, and Louis Vuitton) on measures of ethical commitment. Findings show that most respondents perceived Hermès as a distinctly more ethical brand than its rivals.
The bottom line is this: if luxury retailers are to win a reputation for ethics, they need to do more than just green their products and operations. They need to communicate the passion and commitment of their people to their art. A company’s customers must be made aware of how much care and feeling has been embedded into the lengthy and complex manufacturing process that goes into each and every luxury product or service that the company supplies.

Learn more at Harvard Business Review

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October 20, 2021

Faster, more intense, with more devastating impacts: New IPCC report lays out the scientific basis of the climate emergency

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) released a new report, Climate Change 2021: the Physical Science Basis, which brings together the most recent advances in climate science to outline the current state of climate change. The results are grave, as was explored in a recent ICLEI Talk Of the Cities piece, written by Dana Vigran of ICLEI’s World Secretariat and summarised below.
The opening line of the report’s Summary for Policymakers reads: “It is unequivocal that human influence has warmed the atmosphere, ocean and land.”
The report, which was approved by 195 national governments, shows the rapid human-induced change that is occurring in our climate. The concentration of CO2 in the atmosphere is the highest it has been in 2 million years, sea level rise is at its fastest in 3000 years and arctic sea ice is at its lowest levels in at least 1000 years.
“The IPCC report shows how much human behaviour has impacted our climate, not only putting our future at risk, but also our presence. The current alarming state should bring our ambitions and actions to a higher level, leading true leaders around the world to stand up and change this course. Let us now use all our human capacity to change for the better,” said Martin Horn, Lord Mayor of Freiburg, President of ICLEI Europe and Member of the European Covenant of Mayors Board.
The report also outlines the control that human populations have to limit these effects. Only immediate, rapid and large-scale reductions in greenhouse gas emissions will limit warming to 1.5°C and prevent the most devastating impacts of climate change.
Cities already see climate impacts
We are already seeing the effects of human-induced climate change around the globe. Extreme weather events, from wildfires across Southern Europe to extreme flooding in Western Europe, show the real life consequences of a climate that has already warmed by 1.1°C since the mid-1800s.
The science shows continued warming will affect the climate in multiple ways. It will bring more intense rainfall and flooding in some regions, and increased drought, heat and wild-fires in others. Increased warming will amplify the melting of glaciers and ice sheets while sea level rise also increases.
In cities, these impacts may be amplified. According to the Summary for Policymakers, urbanisation increases heavy precipitation over cities, and coastal cities will continue to see exacerbated flooding both from sea level rise and “extreme rainfall/riverflow events”. Cities and urban centres are also warmer than surrounding areas – often due to lack of natural cooling influences such as water and vegetation, according to the IPCC fact sheet on urban areas.
The role of local and regional governments in holding the line on 1.5°C
“Local and regional governments need to be a part of immediate and sustained reductions in greenhouse gas emissions if we are to have any chance of holding the line at 1.5°C and avoiding the most devastating impacts of climate change,” says ICLEI Secretary General Van Begin.
The European Green Deal seeks to ensure that Europe meets this goal, and becomes the first climate neutral continent by 2050. Local governments have a key role to play to ensure that we can meet this goal, as well as the critical calls that have come out of the IPCC report. Cities and regions across Europe are working to implement their own Local Green Deals, making use of the Mannheim Message and Basque Declaration to guide their work.
For more information on Local Green Deals, click here
To read the full article on which this news piece was based, click here

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October 15, 2021

World Ecolabel Day-14 October 2021

A global day to celebrate ecolabel products and services that protect you and the planet.

More than 50 countries around the world celebrate World Ecolabel Day on the second Thursday in October each year. This year, that's 14 October. It’s a day to focus on ecolabel products and services that are proven to be environmentally preferable and performance tested, so you are ensured the best products for your health and the health of the planet.

Consumers, companies, and communities worldwide will celebrate this event by discovering the ecolabels available in their own countries, buying and using third-party certified products and services, and sharing the good news with family, friends, neighbors, and coworkers.

This year as part of the the Global Ecolabelling Network's celebration, we will be launching our new international “Look Closer” ecolabelling campaign. This campaign is designed to educate procurement officials about avoiding greenwashing and to help them insist on products and services with life cycle-based ecolabels. Make sure to bookmark this page and follow us on social media to see interesting information and fun activities leading up the launch of the “Look Closer” video and landing page on 14 October.

Use these hashtags to talk about World Ecolabel Day. Spread the word and be sure to follow your local ecolabel so that you can tweet and post content often!

#WorldEcolabelDay #ChooseEcolabels #CertifiedGreenEcolabel #Type1Ecolabel #Ecolabels #LifeCycleBasedEcolabels

Learn more at:https://www.globalecolabelling.net/world-ecolabel-day-2/world-ecolabel-day/

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October 11, 2021

[LEISURE: FASHION] How Oxwash Raised $7 Million To Transform The Way We Clean Clothes

What happens when you combine a former NASA scientist and British engineering, you ask? In Oxwash’s case, a solid £5.2 million ($7 million) investment—and growing. The company was founded in 2018, when co-founder and ex-NASA scientist Dr Kyle Grant was completing his Synthetic Biology PhD at the University of Oxford. Perpetually frustrated with broken washing machines on campus, he joined forces with by Oxford engineer Tom de Wilton and—armed with a Deliveroo backpack spray-painted blue—the duo began collecting and washing clothes for fellow students. Things quickly snowballed and, as interest grew, it became the UK’s fastest-growing on-demand laundry business. With a difference. The model is fairly simple, you see; customers place an order online, choose a collection and drop off time and location, and Oxwash collects, washes and delivers, all in house. It’s the actual washing process that made it investable.
“We knew being just another laundry app wouldn’t cut it,” says CEO Dr Kyle Grant. “Developing a model that was hyper local, carbon neutral and tech enabled—that reversed the sector’s adverse impact on the planet rather than adding to it—was fundamental.”
Global laundry usage releases a seismic 14,000 tons of microfibers into the oceans each year—meaning a third of all plastic found in the ocean are microfibers from clothes—while water wastage and toxic solvents only add to the problem.
So Oxwash got to work, utilizing technology typically found in space and hospital sterilization, to tackle each problem individually.
“A typical wash cycle uses around 10 litres of water per kg washed,” says Grant. “We can reduce this by saving up to 32litres on a standard 8kg wash through our water filtration and reclamation techniques.”
Oxwash’s proprietary microfiber filtration technology also removes more than 95 percent of fibres shed during washing, preventing plastic pollution from reaching waterways and drinking water.
“By installing filtration technology in our machines, we prevent over 1 million plastic microfibres from entering our water systems per each KG we wash.”
Additionally, Oxwash’s process kills bacteria through a three stage cycle (ozone disinfection, chemical sterilisation and thermal decontamination) so advanced it reduces 99.99999% of infections—100 times better than the NHS standard.
But they don’t stop there.
“Most laundries will use whichever detergent is cheapest and usually has high levels of toxicity, such as PERC,” he says. “We use biodegradable detergents and emulsifiers that are automatically dosed depending on the weight of the wash.”
This prevents up to 25% excess chemistry being used in each wash, much to the appreciation of early and new eco-conscious investors.
By May 2020 Oxwash had raised £2 million ($2.7 million) from a cohort of coveted investors including: FMCG giant Reckitt, TrueSight Ventures, Founders Factory and Twitter co-founder Biz Stone.
All of whom will undoubtedly be delighted with the company’s rapid growth (15% month-on-month) since the start of the pandemic.
Oxwash now boasts more than 8000 independent customers, alongside corporate clients such as the Marriott Hotel Group, Hurr Collective and the NHS.
And with the global “green cleaning” market set to reach $11.6 billion by 2029, Grant has left no sustainable rock unturned.
“By washing clothes at ambient temperatures and using ozone disinfection to remove microorganisms by oxidation rather than using heat, we can reduce carbon emissions by 45%,” he continues, noting that the company only uses zero emission e-cargo bikes that are able to manoeuvre around traffic, rather than contribute to it.
Compared to traditional laundry collection/delivery services, each bike saves 6,700 KG of CO2 per year.
With the goal to achieve net zero carbon emissions across all of their laundry and dry cleaning services, Oxwash received another $3 million from purpose-led investors this June. The round was backed by former Pinterest and Beyond Meat backers, Future Positive Capital (NYC/SF); Holly Branson, Chief Purpose & Vision Officer Virgin Group; Sam Branson, Filmmaker, Musician & Philanthropist; Pentland Group (Berghaus and Speedo); Leon Lewis (River Island); the founder of Indeed.com, Paul Forster, and more.
The new capital will be used to expand the team and invest in proprietary technology that will power the business’ logistics and cutting-edge washing facilities (known as lagoons) to further improve services, both for consumers and the environment.
“During the pandemic Oxwash has doubled down on its technology to bring simple, sustainable laundry to everyone,” adds Biz Stone. “I’ve been incredibly impressed by their speed of operational execution and I’m confident they are going to scale rapidly post-pandemic!”

Learn more at:Forbes, 08 September 2021 By: Lela London.


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