Product Stewardship for Manufacturers
Servicizing refers to selling a service or function rather than a product, and can include operating leases and trade-ins. Actual ownership of the product remains with the supplier, and customers pay for use and maintenance. Some servicizing examples include carpet leasing, office equipment leasing, outsourcing of onsite chemical management, and office furniture supply, maintenance and moving services.
There are significant benefits for the environment, sellers and customers, if a servicizing program is designed and implemented well. The customer benefits include:
- Environmental and cost savings without much effort on customer's behalf
- Allows customer to focus on their primary areas of business
- Maintenance and ultimate disposal is the supplier's responsibility
- Product(s) are managed by the supplier, who best knows the product, liabilities, and waste reduction opportunities
- Optional shared savings incentivizes both customer and supplier to reduce and recycle. Proving your products meet certain codes or policy is a good way to establish market niche
- Servicizing can help companies meet certain environmental goals
- In servicizing relationships, the vendor may function as much as a partner, problem-solver, and information resource as the product provider
Servicizing inherently provides incentives to maximize and recapture the end-of-life value of products and equipment. This diagram illustrates how DfE can affect (and is affected by) servicizing and takeback programs.
Checklist of suggestions for servicizing programs.
Tips for Starting a Servicizing Program
Assess whether your business (or a portion of your business) has good potential for a servicizing program
Reason: Some products or business areas are not suitable for servicizing
Reason: Test the waters before investing too heavily
Develop draft servicizing options and policies for customers; consider indpendent legal review of the policies
Reason: Policies and contracts are definitely required for servicizing
Optimize product design and manufacturing activities to facilitate recovery
Reason: You will now be responsible for the ultimate disposition of this product and its components
Frigidaire consolidated several types of plastic into a single polycarbonate. Furniture manufacturers design for disassembly so that usable parts can be extracted and reused in new or refurbished furniture.
Develop a material and product distribution tracking system
Reason:Account properly for returns
Ensure viable end uses or markets for the equipment or dismantled components, keeping in mind that some markets for used or recycled materials are volatile
Reason: Maximize the value of the materials
Design and test a process for receiving, handling and recovering products and equipment at the end of the lease or product life
Reason: The facility, or a vendor, must have a well-planned system to handle incoming returns, covering how it will operate and defined roles and responsibilities
Partner with suppliers (or customers if you are a supplier) on supply contracts or outsourcing for chemical inventory management, cleaning and cleaning supplies, furniture management, etc.
Reason: Toxics reduction, waste reduction, and cost savings can be significant when these types of supplies are managed by the company that knows them best
Develop final policies and provisions and sign on customers!