Monday, March 15, 2010

Mechanical Engineering Magazine article on environmental assessment of products

Jean Thilmany, "Green Decisons" Mechanical Engineering Volume 132, Number Three, Pages 40 to 42

This blog's first article talked about a badness tax, applied by sortition, to each product. Engineers are developing software and data collections track the energy, cadmium, lead and other hazardous substances in the components of the things they build. This includes accounting for the energy/carbon/etc. in transporting the goods. As I am sure everyone knows, we now have sophisticated supply chain management systems. As the article says, when companies buy a product, they will be paying for the supply chain records of everything that went into it. The standards for a product to be "green" are less advanced than for a building to get certified. However, te Europeans do have standards for hazardous materials in automotive parts and disposing of electronic waste (Restriction of Hazardous Substances Directive and Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment Directive) which is the impetus for some of this software development. Carnegie Mellon's Green Design Institute uses Input-output analysis to estimate the energy and other inputs into any product. Thus, one can look at a car, and it tracks the energy and knows how energy is used in the major parts, and transportation of each of these parts.

A sortition-based consumption tax system would allow different firms to compete on information collection and the jury can be reasonable in what it demands. unlike a regulatory agency. Toyota wold be expected to do more research on the energy costs of its cars and the components therein, than a small company making a small run of a specialized tool.

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