Sustainability is at the forefront of our collective conscience. The next generation is incredibly environmentally focused, and the business world has to muster that same energy if we are to rise to the challenge of our global environmental crisis. As climate change normalizes natural disasters, it is more pressing than ever that businesses offer responses for building a sustainable future.
Internally, companies must build the infrastructure to incorporate sustainability into their product strategies. We need strategic frameworks for our teams to work toward net-zero through all aspects of our product lifecycles.
To achieve sustainability, many players in the product ecosystem will have to work together— the designer and provider of the most fundamental component of a product, the product manufacturer, and the supply chain as a whole. Appropriate considerations must be made during product architecture and design, which can optimize the product’s life and ensure maximum recyclability. As we navigate supply chain challenges, working down to net zero at every aspect of the product development cycle is more daunting than ever.
Fortunately, net zero product strategies are no longer novel. Some businesses have modeled sustainability and cracked the code to achieve net zero in a defined timeline and with an optimized cost. It will be necessary to adopt these learnings and best practices and go further to adapt those for your product line across industries.
Sustainability, as with any engineering challenge, is not a monolith. The one-size-fits-all approach will not work, and your focus and speed in adapting will ultimately determine where you stand among the next global leaders and sustainability champions.
Net zero initiatives can demand years if not, decades of strategic planning. Start with developing a goal statement. Then, identify the parameter and data required to measure the level of sustainability in your product line, implementing processes to capture that data. As you empower your initiatives with data, analyze your findings to identify improvement. From this base, you can better track your timeline, implement changes, track your progress, and improve your process which in turn allows you to quantify the business case for your sustainable practices.
When considering sustainability, however, global enterprises are always faced with the return on the investment. We know that to make measurable impacts, we must start with more than just the smallest, most manageable initiatives. Our work has to focus on tackling the largest volume projects. This leaves companies asking if it is worth it to invest in natural or sustainable manufacturing products when making the shift in the most impactful spaces means the greatest change—and the greatest risk.
Achieving net zero product realization is obtainable without a heavy financial lift, but it does demand that companies invest in these initiatives. That’s not to say there is less of a return on investments in sustainable product development when compared to our original practices in the long run. However, to effectively gauge the monetization of our sustainability initiatives the data informing our financial gain will look different. Our processes need to reflect that difference if we’re going to effectively make the case for our initiatives.
When we facilitate a product cycle, we leverage enough data to be able to add a tag stating what the carbon credit is because we have not only evaluated my product cycle to implement sustainable practices, but have built in a framework for data analysis that helps us measure the comparative impact of our efforts. As a generational partner in the truest sense, we help accelerate the transition from products to services as a pillar of our customers business strategy and an important source of revenue.
Quest Global’s goal is to be a centenary company passed through multiple generations. If we want to accomplish this goal, we must work toward sustainable engineering. In some of our most critical verticals, from aerospace to energy, this means facilitating engineering processes and implementing solutions that work towards net zero emissions.
As we work toward a sustainable future, net-zero product development cannot just be a top-down approach from the enterprise level. We must imagine frameworks that make this accessible at grass root levels and collaborate across levels to implement a substantive generational change over the course of the next few decades.
As organizations, we have the power to create great change. We now have technologies available to capture key data, tracking that data to make necessary decisions in a time-bound way. Net zero sustainability will likely become a mandated policy in the future, and the companies that start building toward that goal now will be the stand-out companies of the future.