Recycle: Only One Component of Sustainable Development

March 27, 2002
March 2002 Carpet Column- Part 1
Executive SummaryEnvironmentally responsible carpet purchases are multi-faceted decisions. The true environmental impact of a product can only be determined by looking at all the steps in a product's life cycle. The amount of recycled content is one of the aspects that determine the environmental profile of a product, but most certainly not the only factor. Energy use during production and the longevity of carpet are two clear examples of other important factors. Sustainable Development provides a framework for product development that goes beyond the economical and environmental impact of a product; it also considers the social impact. Dow has fully embraced the precepts of Sustainable Development, facilitating development of better products and more meaningful information for our customers. The analysis of the product's life cycle is an important aspect of this approach.Environmental Impact Is More Then Recycle content

Architects, designers, specifiers, and facility managers are consistent in their belief that it is important to do what’s best for the environment when selecting a new carpet. At Dow, we agree. After all, “we do not inherit the earth from our ancestors; we borrow it from our children.”1 However, purchasing decisions made with an environmental conscience can be complicated. The true environmental impact of a product can be fully understood only when all steps in a product’s life cycle have been considered. Simply focusing on products that are marketed as having the highest recycle content or that can be recycled easily is not enough. Many factors need to be evaluated, such as the environmental impact of the process, the energy used during production, the ease of product maintenance, as well as the ability to reuse or recycle the product. Another very important factor to be considered is the longevity of carpet. By extending the life of carpet, the overall environmental impact can be significantly reduced. Recycle should not be singled out when looking at the environmental impact of carpet, rather carpet should be judged on its overall life cycle.Continue Article >> Sustainable Development and Dow

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