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Sustainability is an emerging and evolving concept used with increasing frequency in today's globalised business world.
Everyday corporate decision-makers grapple with their company's impact on the environment, natural resources and society in addition to tackling questions of economics, at the forefront of their minds is the need to answer the question of how to guarantee more sustainable business practices into the future- for reducing their ecological footprint and increase its resource efficiency and productivity so that resources are properly utilized and not damaged- and ensure a sufficient profit still along with creation of social value.
Hence the companies are spreading the message of sustainability to employees, suppliers and customers through the product and value chain using life cycle management in promoting more sustainable products and business practices.
The business case for achieving sustainable development rests on how it affects the bottom line. Life cycle management is a business approach which can be used for achieving sustainable development as it goes beyond short-term success and aims at long-term value creation. global business are using it to reduce, for instance, their products carbon, material and water footprints, as well as improve the social and economic performance of their offerings so as to ensure a more sustainable value chain. These efforts improve a company's performance, strengthen corporate credibility and stake holder relations and enhance shareholder value, both on a local and global level.
We are living at a time when production and exchange of goods and services have attained global dimensions with raw materials and finished products and their impact on environment, being transformed across the world to the end-customers. Though globalization is taken in a positive force in human development, it is not without its social costs. Surveys by The United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) (2009)) and other organizations, such as World Watch Institute (2009), have showed that social fabric and physical surroundings are under severe stress.
But current environmental policies dating from 1980s and 1990s have difficulty in dealing with complex causes of the deterioration witnessed. Partly this is because they continue to deal separately with environmental media like land, water, air, or otherwise preoccupied with specific waste streams. In an attempt to efficiently solve local problems various actions merely shift impacts to other places, media or stakeholders.
The World Summit on Sustainable Development in, 2002 called for a wider adoption of a ''preventive'' and ''integrated'' life-cycle approach to products and materials, relying on life-cycle assessment to identify the impacts at different stages in the life-chain (World Summit on Sustainable Development, 2002). The technique of life-cycle management (LCM) constitutes such an approach by devising partnerships and procedures to minimize impacts in a holistic fashion.
LCM is still a young science. Different models are being tried in different circumstances, and the factors for success are gradually becoming evident. This paper will explore the different models, their strengths and weaknesses, and the synergies that can be created when a cooperative approach is taken.
Why life-cycle management?
For a better understanding of issues that underlie life-cycle is through the notion of "footprint" on the planet. Some of them include carbon, water, and energy which can be quantified. A footprint is taken to be total effect of all the steps in the life- chain of products and materials we consume. A more holistic management of these impacts is a prerequisite for achieving a sustainable lifestyle which is within the resource capacity of our planet.
This type of ''burden shifting'' situation is common in many industries. To better understand the structure of the possible solutions, we need to briefly look at the foundations of LCM and the principles on which they are based.
Most of the environmental impact seen is because of low resource efficiency of the society. Wasteful technologies and throwaway products are often the problems. However the main problem is due to lack of coordination in the value chains. Optimization of individual steps always does not lead to reduction of the impacts, as it just pushes it along the life chain rather than mitigating it. A simple example below illustrates this problem in a practical way:
Leather tanners who purchased raw hides from foreign sources for processing regularly found themselves out of regulatory compliance with respect to pesticide levels in their wastewater. Pesticides are added by cattle farmers and slaughterhouses to protect the freshly skinned hides from bacterial and insect attack. The embedded chemicals pass along the entire value-chain in the leather industry and some end up in wastewater wherever a washing stage occurs. There was no intra-sector communication and negotiation framework to solve this problem, as each link in the value-chain acted independently. Ultimately the added cost of sophisticated wastewater treatment at the tanning stage exceeded the value of the product, and contributed to the decline of the industry in the UK. The problem could have been solved if life-cycle management systems had been in place. An industry-wide initiative relating to chemical use throughout the product cycle could have been negotiated. Individual tanners could have spent more time managing their supply-chain. Government regulation could have addressed the root causes, i.e. slaughterhouse practice, rather than applying wastewater standards at the tanning end-point. Lack of appreciation of the life-cycle management concept and the absence of a life-chain partnership meant that none of the above was applied at the time.
Such type of 'burden shifting' situation is common in many industries. For better understanding the structure of the possible solutions, brief look into the foundations of LCM and its principles on which they are based have to be carried out.
Life-cycle management framework and concepts
The various definitions of life-cycle management reflect the viewpoints of different stakeholders. As per UNEP 'life-cycle management is a product management system aiming to minimize environmental and socioeconomic burdensâ€¦ during the entire life-cycle... (Relying on)...collaboration and communication with all stakeholders in the value chain".
This simple notion belies the difficulties in its implementation. Fig.1 from the food industry gives an idea of the challenge involved. It also shows the complex materials which flow in our food supply and where environmental impact occurs. LCM works with partners at all these points to effectuate both local and system-level improvements. LCM is
Still not yet a standardized discipline, but rather an umbrella framework for combining and applying other management instruments in a more holistic life-chain perspective. The advantage of it is its ability to more explicitly take into account upstream and downstream impacts, including situations in which they are distributed socially and geographically. It can easily address global issues and system dynamics than instruments designed for individual company use. A particular feature of LCM is the 'democratization' of the management exercise through the improvement of different value chain partners.
LCM approaches can be classified into three broad categories on their 'owners'. They are:
Practically there is a good deal of synergy in these approaches, and they are bets used in combinations; ex when government regulation enables or supports codes or multi-stake holder mechanisms.
As some tools have been developed for implementing LCM, the partners are trying to draw on existing set of corporate management instruments and government regulations for trying out various combinations for effectiveness along the life-chain. The more common ones (see table1) include SCM, CSR, environmental design (DFE), and product service systems (PSS). Some have packaged into most useful instruments into a toolbox.
Many of those current instruments also need to evolve further. The expanded range of objectives in a full sustainable development agenda and the need to consider entire value chain stretches many of them to its limit. For example, while Global e-Sustainability Initiative (GESI) has developed and electronic tool for sustainability evaluation of electronic suppliers, it considers only a part of the life-chain often ignoring impacts of mining the metals used by industries. Another example is LCA itself which is used to assess numerical parameters such as materials and energy floes whereas full sustainability agenda includes many non-qualifiable issues like biodiversity and social impacts. The core of LCM is partnerships. Still there is no single procedure in identifying partners, and there is still a reluctance in expansion fearing lose of control and partly to keep management exercise simple.
As a counter example, figure2 shows ALCAN's vision on products in a company context. Not all are interested in including end customers to work on LCM. This can be illustrated using a case study from mining industry. This is an example of multi-stakeholder LCM i.e. item (iii) in the preceding grouping, but the conclusions also have a more general validity:
The gold mining industry uses sodium cyanide to leach gold out of crushed mineral ore. Its toxicity means that careful handling is required at all stages of its life chain. Government safety regulations spell out the standards to be followed. After the widely reported spill of 70 tons of cyanide from a mining operation into the Danube River system in 2000, the industry funded an international multi-stakeholder steering group to develop a new (life-cycle) instrument - the ''International Code for Cyanide Management'' - and a membership-based mechanism for its implementation (ICMI, 2008). The code defines a formal relationship for the key LCM partners: the chemical supplier, the transporter, and the mining company. It thus constitutes a ''cradle to grave'' management process. The code incorporates safety objectives, technical standards, and operational procedures to be applied by the LCM partners. Supply-chain management ensures these standards are applied right up to the original chemical manufacturer. Independent audits and a requirement for public consultation ensure that the entire life cycle remains visible to the community.
Many private mining investment decisions and government approvals now require companies to be members of this code. Companies on their side have found that the procedures of the code also make their operations more cost-effective. More than 50 per cent of world gold production now takes place by companies that are members of the code. Safety incidents have markedly decreased.
But code also has limitations. In particular its character as a voluntary agreement means it suffers from the free-rider problem (remedied in part by the tendency of some governments to require adherence to the code as a condition of approval). There is also a problem in application to small operators who have less influence over their supply-chains.
Similar such experiences have been observed in natural resources chemical and minerals and other sectors. LCM, when applied systematically can be a major factor in achieving goals of sustainable development while keeping company competitive. When there is a synergy between business procedures e.g. financing, and government approvals and is at its best when public interests groups also contribute to agreements. However, close management control is need for ensuring meaningful objectives to the exercise and to provide effective operational supervision.
How is LCM applied now?
LCM in business
Firstly to make extensive use of LCM was the business sector. They used it as a way to shape its response to market competition, consumer pressure, product quality assurance, workplace and consumer safety, meeting sustainability targets etc. fig.3 shows how companies have seen the usefulness of LCM in a corporate framework. LCM is being promoted as a way of improving companies CSR programs; ex improving their products sustainability performance by the World Business Council for Sustainable Development.
Below are given two examples of LCM companies, which emphases on product design and supply chain management respectively:
As per Nokia, life cycle covers al major impacts in the life cycle of a product and thus includes the basis for all environmental activities at Nokia along with a framework for actions. Based on this, Targets are set for further improvement of environmental performance. For Nokia's two primary product types i.e. the mobile phones and network equipment the life cycle profiles are different. For network equipment the energy consumed during use phase and for mobiles the extraction of raw materials and productions of components have huge environmental impacts (fig.4). This perspective has led to a reduction in the material consumption for phones and today many weighing below 100gm.
IKEA tries to produce home furnishing products which are low cost, little influence on environment and produced in a socially responsible way. They have developed a code of conduct that represents minimum demand to its 1600 suppliers in terms of social, environmental and work related conditions. Life cycle thinning has ensured that company is abreast of development trends and also contributes to ensure a sustainable development for IKEA itself and its suppliers. SCM factors include resource use. Sustainable forestry practices and training for employees.
It is thus seen from examples that there are different options for LCM depending on the objectives of the companies. Nokia markets its products with lower embedded pollution impacts. But failed to mention social impacts ex: the mining of metals on which electronic circuitry depends, and which has actually led the industry participating in the Gesi initiative. Nokia thus is addressing selectively value chain of its products. IKEA as a distributor exercises better control over its numerous suppliers, including social impact and bio diversity criteria and waste but however it would become difficult for them in influencing suppliers of suppliers. Both examples thus illustrates major challenges facing LCM; i.e. identifying a way the length of chain necessary to resolve sustainability issues in life cycle of products and materials.
Other companies which have a life chain approach towards environmental management programs include Alcan, Siemens, Ford, Magna International and Veolia.
LC assessment underpins many of these management exercises. Improvements of sustainability performance are led by information of materials and energy flows also by reducing waste, pollution and redesigning products. Now also major distribution chains are focusing on CSR, usage of LCA is also increasing. For ex:
In the future shopper at Wal-Mart can also expect to know about the carbon and water footprints and pollution generated during that products manufacture. It's their aim to create a comprehensive indexing system which will provide to its customers" the world behind their product". Among its huge suppliers Unilever and P&G are supporting this. Its rivals are also being asked to join so as to avoid proliferation of separate indexing systems. This initiative will also have a great impact on supply chain. Manufacturers and suppliers will have to make sustainability major criteria in their operations.
Though LCM users were individual companies, now business associations are catching up. The International Council on Metals and Mining (ICMM) statement on materials stewardship is an example of life chain management advocacy for an entire industry sector. It promotes an integrated life cycle approach for production and use of minerals in ensuring alignment with sustainable development fundamentals. Value chain partners are encouraged to take up responsible design, use, re-use, recycling and disposal of materials. Other sector includes the chemicals industry with its Global Products Strategy that is dedicated to improving the responsible handling of chemicals throughout the value-chain.
Still there are many challenges for business. It's seen that value chains are being managed are still quite short, and the sustainability objectives are reduced. Stakeholders, mainly end-customers are locked out of the LCM exercise. Smaller companies have insufficient leverage in to manage their supply chain or to redesign its products. And coordination, monitoring, checking actions of the upstream and downstream partners is a major exercise. There is lack of standardization of LCM which leads to diversity of inconsistent approaches. LCM initiatives of companies also depend upon the government regulatory where sustainability targets are set, information is demanded and procedures are mandated.
Even in the political level there are challenges. Instead of achieving real sustainability improvements companies manage LCM process in their own way. This leads to the need of international standardization and or governmental regulation. Many a time's governments in the emerging companies become suspicious of western corporate attempts in controlling their supply chains and try using international forums like WTO for blocking such practices.
LCM in government
Regulators realized that approach to managing environmental quality needs to be in a more comprehensive life-cycle approach. It indeed is difficult due to complex, interconnected web of government regulation in most countries, which mostly is based on single media legislation. Still many of the environmental ministries are trying out a proactive strategic instrument and policy based life cycle approaches; and some regional and national authorities are putting in holistic legislation which fits into broad area of sustainable consumption and production (SCP) policies. Leadership has come especially from intergovernmental bodies like the European Union (EU), which has taken a visible stance on upstream approaches through, for example, its Integrated Product Policy. ''Integrated'' action can be general or applied to a specific class of materials or products. The REACH process in the
European Union for potentially hazardous chemicals is a relevant recent example.
Another good example of life-cycle legislation is the Restriction of Hazardous Substances Directive 2002/95/EC, commonly referred to as the (RoHS). This limited the usage of 6 hazardous materials like lead, mercury or cadmium in the manufacturing of electrical equipment. It is closely linked to the Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment Directive (WEEE) 2002/96/EC, which sets collection, recycling and recovery targets for electrical goods and is part of a legislative initiative to solve the problem of toxic electronic waste. RoHS has both upstream and downstream components to help reduce health and environmental impacts in developing countries where much of today's high-tech trash ends up for ''recycling''.
Even though individually governments have tried in incorporating LCM elements into sustainable development policies, they have experienced many difficulties in giving them effect through regulations. Thus the French parliament in 2008 refused the ministers proposal in introducing differential pricing based on accumulated environmental impact. There is also inherent difficulty in creating legislative lings along extended supply chains as many are international trade process which goes beyond national jurisdiction and only amendable to regional or global initiatives.
Sometimes governments do practice a form of LCM directly in a pie cement fashion. Specific high profile substances like radio active materials, pharmaceuticals, and genetic material can be controlled through a set of independent but interlocking regulations along the life chain, often being under coordination bodies on which interested govt. departments may be represented. Road safety is another issue often subject to a systems approach where vehicles, road infrastructure, user permits, driver behavior, alcohol sales, medical services, etc. are all incorporated into a type of life-chain process where each component is optimized in relation to the others. This has worked in some countries in reducing the road toll, demonstrating that effectively managed holistic approaches can deliver good results in addressing complex problems.
Due to the political and logistic challenges, national governments have chosen "coordination" over integrated regulation. Because of the constraints of LCM emphasis is given on assessment stage (i.e. LCA), promoting research and data collection and then aligning it with product legislation. Thus it focuses on the consumption end of the value chain rather than production cycle.
Other options which are also available with governments are softer form of actions which include product labeling, product awards, and consumer information have increased consciousness of the ''world behind the product'', and thereby provoked more fundamental product rethinking by manufacturers. For example, the EU Energy Label for most white goods, light bulbs, packaging, and cars have been particularly effective in improving the energy efficiency of key products.
Major opportunities are being missed which includes government being society's biggest consumer of goods and service. Incorporation of life chain performance criteria in public purchasing and tendering would make suppliers use LCM and realize its commercial advantages. Still, political and cost factors dominate most government supply contracts. Apart from the political constraints, constraint at governments part is that role in LCM is constrained because of lack of positioning at a definable point along the value chain. The chief role being to provide and enabling framework that obliges various life-chain partners in adopting LCM.
Cooperative life-chain management
In some situations, as with many products no company singly dominates the value chain, nor is possible for governments to legislate due to the nature of global market place. In such case, a different model of LCM can be introduced, one of a formal management structure and agreed performance codes. Rather than LCM implementation on a single company initiative (as that of Wal-Mart example) this approach relies on a multi stake holder coalition for taking the process forward. Along with direct supply-chain partners, others who could also be included in these coalitions are civil society groups, intergovernmental organizations and consumer groups.
Prominent examples include from the natural resources area, mining, forestry and fisheries where consumer and NGO activity have focused their attention to upstream and downstream issues along with impact of direct operations. Unlike corporate LCM, there is a formal life-cycle management framework which brings all stakeholders in formulating sustainability objectives. Elaboration on performance standards, introduction of monitoring and verification processes and engaging in open communication with end users for quality assurance purposes are carried out by them as a group.
Among the best-known examples of LCM partnerships for sustainable resource exploitation are the Forest Stewardship Council and the Marine Stewardship Council:
The production and supply of sustainably harvested timber embraces life-cycle management through the certification process put in place by an international instance, the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC). The multi-stakeholder FSC was created after UNCED in 1992, when it became clear that only a collective management agreement would reduce the confliction situation concerning timber harvesting. Under the instrument, both forest operations and the timber product are subject to strict conditions with regards to independent auditing and certification, including public reporting. The sustainably produced timber is marketed as such by retailers who have targeted a major consumer segment interested in such products.
Some forest product companies claim similar ''sustainable'' practices outside such formal agreements, however, little independent auditing usually takes place. As evidence of the effectiveness of the FSC instrument, the WWF reports that 1.2 million hectares of forests in the Congo Basin achieved certification in 2008.
The aspect of the consumption side is taken more clearly into account in the fishing sector, under the Marine Stewardship Council. This is also based on a certification procedure but has a mission to inform and educate (but not exert obligations on) consumers of the product. The life-chain issues for marine fisheries are well summarized by Ecotrust (Scholtz, 2007).
The FSC and MSC are practical management initiatives that bind various partners under common objectives and procedures along the value chain. The partners have an opportunity in participating in the governance instrument. This is in contrast with the international Tropical Timber Agreement, an intergovernmental treaty established under UN for encouraging governments in implementing sustainable harvesting practices, but which does not have binding procedures, targets, obligations or monitoring.
Individual companies used instruments like audits, product specifications, certification etc and also relied on the governmental regulations like approvals, product standards etc. in a sense the, cooperative LCM which focuses on building strong, formal partnerships is a step to further develop the individual LCM initiatives which is already in place. It's the nature, strength and influence of the partnership coalition which sets it apart from LCM models. These have advantages of not a single government or company being able to exercise leadership. Financial institutions have become a more powerful influence by showing interest in the certification aspects of such LCM exercises as a way of orienting their project funding.
The difficulties faced by cooperative process include cost and time consumption in managing. In case of diverse partnership there are often stakeholders who wish to control process in order to reduce the commitment of other partners. The Green Lead Project (2005) suffers from this problem. Reducing the exercise to only a few steps in the life-chain is the most common weakness of life-cycle coalitions (as it is in most LCM exercises), since the joint interests of a diverse group of partners is likely to be concordant only for a limited number of issues. Finally, binding standards - never popular with business - and compliance mechanisms are essential for a broad coalition to act in a coherent fashion. Here, the weakness of the Tropical Timber Agreement, which has no standards at all, is noteworthy in comparison to the clear procedures of the FSC.
Implementation of LCM
The diversity of LCM methods above gives a reflection of growing complexity of life chain issues as international trade is expanding. Implementation approach varies with the purpose of the exercise. For product optimization within a single company the parameters of the LCM exercise will be dominated by internal corporate factors like CSR. And conversely, in the case of cooperative LCM, LCM is used for bringing global improvement in chemical safety throughout the entire industry. Also here CSR becomes a subordinate tool in its implementation.
LCM will become most effective when business; industry and community work together, each bringing additional value to its implementation. In implementing company initiatives government provides a clear regulatory framework and standards on which business depends upon. Public bodies contribute to the articulation of agreed sustainability targets and to exchange information. This partnership basis to LCM has its strongest expression in the cooperative model.
For working towards broader community outcomes on sustainability also the partnership model helps. Business LCM still focuses on achieving narrow corporate outcomes of improved image, marketing, and cost without explicitly and visibly factoring broader global and societal goals into the exercise. Also due to the complexity of the political factors the governments gave reduced ability on their own to make LCM work. The aspirations and objectives of all the social partners can be more easily is taken into account through a multi stake holder LCM.
LCM did bring out its effectiveness in many of the circumstances, still many of it depends on the situation; following are the number of factors that stand out:
LCM is likely to work well where these conditions are met. But there are also problems which can delay LCM implementation.
Firstly it's the lack of awareness in many sectors that LCM is an appropriate response to their situation. For ex: the UK tanners didn't have the vision to engage with upstream suppliers. Their traditional independence and ingrained perception that downstream government regulations were solely responsible for environmental management led to inaction till it was late.
Next being the complexity in dealing with all actors across all sectors of value chain and thereby addressing all issues (as Wal-Mart trying to do). Though influence over immediate suppliers could be done through direct supply chain inclusion of suppliers of the suppliers becomes a big problem needing coordination or surveillance. It's already seen that Gesi initiative excluded metals mining form this program in spite of it being the controversial areas of sustainability agenda. Similarly, Nokia and IKEA examples which illustrated current tendency for companies of considering only short sections of the supply chain. Even on the government side it was noted that life-cycle legislation is both complex and politically sensitive due to number of vested interests. But there is no way around this. If a life-cycle approach is required for optimizing sustainability issues for the community rather than a company, it got to be done by learning to deal with extended life-chains and multiple partners.
Also finally acknowledgment has to be given for the fact that radical changes in procedure, management resistance are key factors in slow implementation of LCM. As seen before traditional approaches are dying. Corporate managers do not welcome always the higher degree of transparency and sharing of responsibility required.
LCM is inevitably an exercise in partnership building. Corporate SCM identifies partners after the issues have already been defined, in case of collaborative approach, the partnership is formed first around a generalized problem. They then develop objectives and goals as a subsequent step. Even integrated government policy and regulation depends on consultation. However, partnership building is more of an inexact science which depends on human insight as much on from formal procedures and the subsequent achievement of unity of purpose along supply chain not being very easy. Thus it can be seen that negotiations on common objectives and procedures take many years.
The above factors along with a lack of standardization of LCM technique have led to diverse views of LCM and its functionality and its benefits. Thus along the way the notion of LC assessment gets lost. Also there is confusion about its relationship with environmental management tools. Thus the end result is that LCM is presently standing as an umbrella concept in applying established environmental management tools instead of a rigorous standardized procedure in its own right.
Still there's lot to do for promoting and improving of LCM at the level of individual value chains. Eventually the most fundamental issue to be addressed is the optimization of the entire production-consumption system, being the most complex life-cycle management challenge of all. This becomes beyond the capability of the current LCM players in achieving individually given that it requires redesigning simultaneously a wide array of products, services, infrastructure and marketing procedures and the resource base upon which it relies. Thus it will require a much stronger consensus about common sustainability goals. Global production-consumption system building will require sophisticated LCA processes for identifying key factors at play. While PSS will continue to play an important role, such system optimization will become impossible without new tools and instruments making it more important to develop better LC management models that could function at this scale.
Synthesis and conclusions
Our environment is under higher stress as global economy is continually touching more number of countries. Prevailing environmental approaches are focusing on individual points of production consumption chain, and many pollution abatement actions merely displace problem to another section of value chain. More widespread application of prevention-oriented-life-cycle thinking and emphases on optimizing the system as a whole is required for sustainable development. In order to pinpoint the key areas needing attention is carried out by life-cycle assessment. Efforts by companies, governments and consumer groups have gone into standardizing and promoting its application.
LCM is still not a standardized discipline, rather an umbrella framework for applying existing instruments and procedures in a more holistic way and creating management partnerships between upstream and downstream actors. There are different LCM models identified each for a particular situation. The most successful outcome occurs when a broad, multi stakeholder partnership with a formal management framework gets established. Government and business need to make mutually complementary contributions for such coalition and ideally to all LCM initiatives.
Until specific tools are developed for LCM, implementation will still depend on current set of environmental management tools which were originally developed for corporate use as for ex: SCM, environmental systems, and 'green' purchasing. Major challenges for the current generation of managers who have grown familiar with a more limited range of applications are application, re orientation, and sometimes redevelopment of these tools in a new LCM framework.
As company action on LCM currently been most widespread application, it also depends on government life-cycle policies and the setting of sustainable product standards. Currently most companies are aiming at improving individual products and company image. It doesn't have the mandate to address the global situation of unsustainable production and consumption, nor value chains of common commodity products in a global market.
Governments are slow in incorporating LCM aspects into their policies and regulations. Their geographical jurisdiction makes it difficult for them to address global value chains. They also face problems in reconciling different political interests along the life-chain of products while attempting to adopt a life-cycle approach to regulation. Thus they are focusing more on information and coordination approaches. That said there remain large, unrealized opportunities as for example, in official procurement and purchasing policies.
Even without practice of LCM, consumers are increasingly aware of life-cycle impacts, the so-called ''world behind the product''. They act mainly on a limited product-by-product basis, disseminating information and promoting consumer boycotts. This mechanism has stimulated corporations in reviewing closely the life-chain impacts of their entire range of products as a way of avoiding future adverse publicity or legal liability. A major role is also played by consumer and environmental NGOs in cooperating LCM initiatives by helping in influencing the sustainability objectives.
Taken everything together it's seen that approaches have given encouraging results in improving management in a number of clearly identified value chains, as much still remains to be done.
Overall a growing acceptance by society for a holistic life-cycle approach is necessary in managing global production-consumption system. Other approaches are also being tried put by various stakeholder groups both independently and as CLM partnerships and coalitions. In spite of LCM not being a standardized discipline, it has undisputed value in guiding application of current environmental management tools in arriving at results which can't be achieved through fragmented application like in the past. Further work needs to be done for enhancing effectiveness of LCM, including its eventual standardization which will add momentum to this encouraging trend.