Episode 10 | 14.03.2024

Building Trust Through Evidence and Verification in Sustainable Manufacturing

This week, we’re joined by Simon Corbey, Director at The Alliance for Sustainable Building Products (ASBP). With over two decades in the sector, Simon explores the essential role of evidence and verification in crafting sustainable building materials. Simon’s insights reveal the challenges and triumphs in the journey towards a low-carbon built environment. Dive into this enriching discussion with Simon, as he highlights the path to a sustainable future.

Listen to the full podcast episode on YouTube, Spotify, and Apple Podcasts.

In the world of product manufacturing, especially within the built environment sector, the standards for sustainability credentials are ever-evolving. Simon Corbey, Director at The Alliance for Sustainable Building Products, shares his insights into the challenges and strategies for navigating these changing standards. This article draws from Simon’s expertise to explore the significance of evidence and verification in manufacturing and provides actionable advice for manufacturers seeking to align with the shifting goalposts of sustainability.


The importance of Truthful Marketing

One of Simon’s key insights was the importance of transparency in marketing. He highlights the potential pitfalls of overstating a product’s environmental credentials, cautioning,

“There is a real danger of overstating…because you want your product to be the best in class.”

Simon underscores the necessity of balancing enthusiasm for one’s products with the responsibility to provide truthful and verifiable information. This perspective serves as valuable guidance for manufacturers, stressing the importance of backing sustainability claims with solid evidence to ensure that marketing messages are not only engaging but also genuinely credible.


The Role of Environmental Product Declarations (EPDs)

Simon champions Environmental Product Declarations (EPDs) as a cornerstone for validating sustainability claims. EPDs provide a comprehensive overview of a product’s environmental impact, from its carbon footprint to its lifecycle assessment.

“They are complex documents…and cover a whole range of different environmental indicators,”

Simon explains, highlighting their role in offering transparent and credible evidence for sustainability claims. For manufacturers, investing in EPDs is depicted not just as a regulatory compliance measure but as a strategic advantage in a market increasingly driven by eco-conscious consumers and stakeholders.


Learning from Tragedy: The Grenfell Tower Inquiry

Reflecting on the Grenfell Tower tragedy, Simon underscores the dire consequences of inadequate product testing and verification. The disaster serves as a stark reminder of the paramount importance of rigorous testing and the ethical obligation of manufacturers to ensure product safety. Simon discusses the broader impact of Grenfell on industry standards and the urgent need for transparency and third-party verification to rebuild public trust.

“You can’t argue with evidence,”

Simon asserts, urging manufacturers to adopt more stringent testing protocols and share test data transparently to mitigate risks and prevent future tragedies.


Actionable Insights for Manufacturers

Drawing from the podcast conversation, several actionable insights emerge for manufacturers aiming to navigate the shifting standards of sustainability credentials:

  1. Invest in Verifiable Evidence: Beyond mere compliance, obtaining EPDs and third-party certifications is a strategic investment. It substantiates your sustainability claims with verifiable evidence, distinguishing your products in a competitive market.
  2. Embrace Transparency: Adopt an open-book approach to your product testing and sustainability data. Sharing information not only fosters trust among consumers and stakeholders but also contributes to the collective industry effort to raise standards and accountability.
  3. Collaborate for Progress: Engage in industry-wide initiatives and collaborations focused on sustainability. Collective efforts, such as sharing large-scale fire test data, can lead to significant advancements in safety standards and eco-friendly manufacturing practices.
  4. Stay Ahead of Regulatory Changes: Keep abreast of emerging sustainability standards and regulatory requirements, both domestically and internationally. Proactive compliance positions your brand as a leader in sustainability and can open up new market opportunities.
  5. Educate Your Team: Ensure that your marketing and product development teams are well-versed in interpreting and communicating the data from EPDs and other sustainability certifications. As Simon suggests, “You are gonna be a really useful communicator” if you understand the nuances of these documents.


Looking Ahead

The built environment sector stands at a critical juncture, with sustainability considerations becoming increasingly central to product manufacturing and marketing. Simon’s insights from the podcast provide a roadmap for manufacturers to navigate these challenges effectively. By prioritising truthful marketing, investing in credible evidence, and embracing collaborative efforts, manufacturers can not only meet the evolving standards of sustainability credentials but also lead the charge towards a more sustainable and resilient built environment.

Navigating the shifting goalposts of evidence and verification requires a multifaceted approach, underpinned by a commitment to transparency, collaboration, and continuous improvement. As the industry moves forward, these principles will be instrumental in shaping a sustainable future for product manufacturing in the built environment sector.

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© 2024. The Responsible Edge Podcast