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IBM stresses the green-ification of product design and management

About a week ago, I mentioned an alliance between Autodesk and Sustainable Minds aimed at helping designers reate greener products from the drawing board stage. Now, IBM Global Business Services has introduced a set of product lifecycle services intended to help companies apply that sort of thinking not just to product design, but to the packaging around something, how that thing gets to and from where it needs to go, and where it ends up when its useful life is over.

About a week ago, I mentioned an alliance between Autodesk and Sustainable Minds aimed at helping designers reate greener products from the drawing board stage. Now, IBM Global Business Services has introduced a set of product lifecycle services intended to help companies apply that sort of thinking not just to product design, but to the packaging around something, how that thing gets to and from where it needs to go, and where it ends up when its useful life is over. Plus other things in-between.

The IBM Environmental Product Lifecycle Management service is meant for businesses across pretty much any industry although companies hailing from the electronics segment have obviously been among those most keenly aware of maintaining greener business practices, says Jeff Hittner, corporate social responsibility leader for IBM Global Business Services. IBM employs more than 1,000 product lifecycle management (PLM) experts, which means there's plenty of this intellectual property to go around.

Hittner says the new IBM service is meant to do some (or all) of the following, depending on what an individual business needs to worry about most:

- Design for compliance and regulatory requirements - Design for end-of-life management - Design for reduction of overall carbon footprint - Design for more environmental materials selection - Design for greener packaging - Design for accelerated product delivery of more eco-friendly versions of certain items

The last item is something worth drawing specific attention to, as I think that companies overlook the fact that they can actually create new revenue streams by addressing green issues. I know that I personally have been studying product labels a whole lot more closely than I used to do and am opting for entirely new brands as a result.

Incidentally, this sort of help doesn't cheap. It'll cost a company between $200,000 and $400,000 for a six-to-eight-week strategy engagement, according to Hittner. And just because you use this service doesn't mean you'll be "safe" from green compliance laws. The service is meant to convey best practices, not to take on the responsibility for you.