Monday, December 21, 2009

The Sustainability Consortuim Takes On The Tower of Eco-babble

A scant 5 months ago, The Sustainability Consortium was formed. Administered jointly by Arizona State and the University of Arkansas, it is an independent group of scientists and engineers from leading academic research institutions around the world. Their purpose is to develop the science to support the indexing of consumer products from cradle to cradle.

The impetus for creating this non-profit organization is the unprecedented growth in globalization, urbanization, affluence, consumption, and population. Although the seed money came from WalMart, The Sustainability Consortium Co-Directors Drs. Jay S Golden and Jon Johnson steadfastly maintain that they are independent scientists and researchers.

The four primary project areas to be examined are: food and agriculture, home and personal care, electronics and apparel (pending). The Sustainability Consortium’s proximal goal is the creation of the framework and tools to make their findings available. They expect to have Life Cycle models developed by late spring 2010. Looking farther, Earthster, whose website is home of a new system that is web-based, free, and open source (non-proprietary), will be up and running. The Earthster Project will be providing zero-cost access to markets.

We can expect a “white paper” documentation of their findings based on sound science. The Sustainability Consortium is not going to be creating certification or labels, nor will they be validating or auditing everyone else’s life cycle analysis (LCA). Rather, their hope is to integrate LCA data sources by having the single place for data reporting and extraction, where access to developed prototype metrics drive innovation to improve consumer product sustainability, and set the stage for supply chain innovations.

Although the consortium is trying to harmonize efforts globally, their initial priority is in the United Kingdom and the European Union, as that is where many of their current members are headquartered. Asia will be the next targeted location.

The Sustainability Consortium currently seeks members (the application is on their website), experts, and people interested in being in a working group. Skeptics, especially those in the sciences, are welcome.

Learn more.


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