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The status of green purchasing in the five most populous U.S. states

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I present a new framework for qualitative assessment of the current green purchasing practices of U.S. state governments. Increasing demand from citizens for green public purchasing has prompted state governments to adopt new, and improve existing, practices. Yet there has

I present a new framework for qualitative assessment of the current green purchasing practices of U.S. state governments. Increasing demand from citizens for green public purchasing has prompted state governments to adopt new, and improve existing, practices. Yet there has been little assessment of public green purchasing in academic research; what has been done has not provided the conceptual support necessary to assess green purchasing practices as a single component of the procurement process. My research aims to fill that gap by developing a conceptual framework with which to assess the status of green purchasing practices and by applying this framework to determine and describe the status of green purchasing in the five most populous U.S. states. The framework looks at state purchasing practices through the lenses of policy, policy implementation, and transparency.

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Date Created
2012

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Evaluation of ecolabelling criteria using life cycle assessment

Description

Ecolabels are the main driving force of consumer knowledge in the realm of sustainable product purchasing. While ecolabels strive to improve consumer's purchasing decisions, they have overwhelmed the market, leaving consumers confused and distrustful of what each label means. This

Ecolabels are the main driving force of consumer knowledge in the realm of sustainable product purchasing. While ecolabels strive to improve consumer's purchasing decisions, they have overwhelmed the market, leaving consumers confused and distrustful of what each label means. This study attempts to validate and understand environmental concerns commonly found in ecolabel criteria and the implications they have within the life cycle of a product. A life cycle assessment (LCA) case study of cosmetic products is used in comparison with current ecolabel program criteria to assess whether or not ecolabels are effectively driving environmental improvements in high impact areas throughout the life cycle of a product. Focus is placed on determining the general issues addressed by ecolabelling criteria and how these issues relate to hotspots derived through a practiced scientific methodology. Through this analysis, it was determined that a majority the top performing supply chain environmental impacts are covered, in some fashion, within ecolabelling criteria, but some, such as agricultural land occupation, are covered to a lesser extent or not at all. Additional criteria are suggested to fill the gaps found in ecolabelling programs and better address the environmental impacts most pertinent to the supply chain. Ecolabels have also been found to have a broader coverage then what can currently be addressed using LCA. The results of this analysis have led to a set of recommendations for furthering the integration between ecolabels and life cycle tools.

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Date Created
2012

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Role of uncertainty in streamlined life cycle assessment--exploring the case of petrochemical refineries and polymer manufacturing units

Description

Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) is used in the chemical process sector to compare the environmental merits of different product or process alternatives. One of the tasks that involves much time and cost in LCA studies is the specification of the

Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) is used in the chemical process sector to compare the environmental merits of different product or process alternatives. One of the tasks that involves much time and cost in LCA studies is the specification of the exact materials and processes modeled which has limited its widespread application. To overcome this, researchers have recently created probabilistic underspecification as an LCA streamlining method, which uses a structured data classification system to enable an LCA modeler to specify materials and processes in a less precise manner. This study presents a statistical procedure to understand when streamlined LCA methods can be used, and what their impact on overall model uncertainty is. Petrochemicals and polymer product systems were chosen to examine the impacts of underspecification and mis-specification applied to LCA modeling. Ecoinvent database, extracted using GaBi software, was used for data pertaining to generic crude oil refining and polymer manufacturing modules. By assessing the variation in LCA results arising out of streamlined materials classification, the developed statistics estimate the amount of overall error incurred by underspecifying and mis-specifying material impact data in streamlined LCA. To test the impact of underspecification and mis-specification at the level of a product footprint, case studies of HDPE containers and aerosol air fresheners were conducted. Results indicate that the variation in LCA results decreases as the specificity of materials increases. For the product systems examined, results show that most of the variability in impact assessment is due to the differences in the regions from which the environmental impact datasets were collected; the lower levels of categorization of materials have relatively smaller influence on the variance. Analyses further signify that only certain environmental impact categories viz. global warming potential, freshwater eutrophication, freshwater ecotoxicity, human toxicity and terrestrial ecotoxicity are affected by geographic variations. Outcomes for the case studies point out that the error in the estimation of global warming potential increases as the specificity of a component of the product decreases. Fossil depletion impact estimates remain relatively robust to underspecification. Further, the results of LCA are much more sensitive to underspecification of materials and processes than mis-specification.

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2014

Feasibility study of use of renewable energy to power greenfield eco-industrial park

Description

An eco-industrial park (EIP) is an industrial ecosystem in which a group of co-located firms are involved in collective resource optimization with each other and with the local community through physical exchanges of energy, water, materials, byproducts and services -

An eco-industrial park (EIP) is an industrial ecosystem in which a group of co-located firms are involved in collective resource optimization with each other and with the local community through physical exchanges of energy, water, materials, byproducts and services - referenced in the industrial ecology literature as "industrial symbiosis". EIPs, when compared with standard industrial resource sharing networks, prove to be of greater public advantage as they offer improved environmental and economic benefits, and higher operational efficiencies both upstream and downstream in their supply chain.

Although there have been many attempts to adapt EIP methodology to existing industrial sharing networks, most of them have failed for various factors: geographic restrictions by governmental organizations on use of technology, cost of technology, the inability of industries to effectively communicate their upstream and downstream resource usage, and to diminishing natural resources such as water, land and non-renewable energy (NRE) sources for energy production.

This paper presents a feasibility study conducted to evaluate the comparative environmental, economic, and geographic impacts arising from the use of renewable energy (RE) and NRE to power EIPs. Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) methodology, which is used in a variety of sectors to evaluate the environmental merits and demerits of different kinds of products and processes, was employed for comparison between these two energy production methods based on factors such as greenhouse gas emission, acidification potential, eutrophication potential, human toxicity potential, fresh water usage and land usage. To complement the environmental LCA analysis, levelized cost of electricity was used to evaluate the economic impact. This model was analyzed for two different geographic locations; United States and Europe, for 12 different energy production technologies.

The outcome of this study points out the environmental, economic and geographic superiority of one energy source over the other, including the total carbon dioxide equivalent emissions, which can then be related to the total number of carbon credits that can be earned or used to mitigate the overall carbon emission and move closer towards a net zero carbon footprint goal thus making the EIPs truly sustainable.

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Date Created
2014

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The interpersonal determinants of green purchasing: an assessment of the empirical record

Description

This study investigates how well prominent behavioral theories from social psychology explain green purchasing behavior (GPB). I assess three prominent theories in terms of their suitability for GPB research, their attractiveness to GPB empiricists, and the strength of their empirical

This study investigates how well prominent behavioral theories from social psychology explain green purchasing behavior (GPB). I assess three prominent theories in terms of their suitability for GPB research, their attractiveness to GPB empiricists, and the strength of their empirical evidence when applied to GPB. First, a qualitative assessment of the Theory of Planned Behavior (TPB), Norm Activation Theory (NAT), and Value-Belief-Norm Theory (VBN) is conducted to evaluate a) how well the phenomenon and concepts in each theory match the characteristics of pro-environmental behavior and b) how well the assumptions made in each theory match common assumptions made in purchasing theory. Second, a quantitative assessment of these three theories is conducted in which r2 values and methodological parameters (e.g., sample size) are collected from a sample of 21 empirical studies on GPB to evaluate the accuracy and generalize-ability of empirical evidence. In the qualitative assessment, the results show each theory has its advantages and disadvantages. The results also provide a theoretically-grounded roadmap for modifying each theory to be more suitable for GPB research. In the quantitative assessment, the TPB outperforms the other two theories in every aspect taken into consideration. It proves to 1) create the most accurate models 2) be supported by the most generalize-able empirical evidence and 3) be the most attractive theory to empiricists. Although the TPB establishes itself as the best foundational theory for an empiricist to start from, it's clear that a more comprehensive model is needed to achieve consistent results and improve our understanding of GPB. NAT and the Theory of Interpersonal Behavior (TIB) offer pathways to extend the TPB. The TIB seems particularly apt for this endeavor, while VBN does not appear to have much to offer. Overall, the TPB has already proven to hold a relatively high predictive value. But with the state of ecosystem services continuing to decline on a global scale, it's important for models of GPB to become more accurate and reliable. Better models have the capacity to help marketing professionals, product developers, and policy makers develop strategies for encouraging consumers to buy green products.

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Date Created
2012

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Comparative life cycle assessment of sunscreen lotion using organic chemicals versus nano-titanium dioxide as UV blocker

Description

The production of nanomaterials has been increasing and so are their applications in various products, while the environmental impacts and human impacts of these nanomaterials are still in the process of being explored. In this thesis, a process for

producing

The production of nanomaterials has been increasing and so are their applications in various products, while the environmental impacts and human impacts of these nanomaterials are still in the process of being explored. In this thesis, a process for

producing nano-titanium dioxide (nano-TiO2) is studied and a case-study has been conducted on comparative Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) of the application of these nano-TiO2 particles in the sunscreen lotion as a UV-blocker with the conventional organic chemical sunscreen lotion using GaBi software. Nano-TiO2 particles were identified in the sunscreen lotion using Transmission Electron Microscope suggesting the use of these particles in the lotion.

The LCA modeling includes the comparison of the environmental impacts of producing nano-TiO2 particles with that of conventional organic chemical UV-blockers (octocrylene and avobenzone). It also compares the environmental life cycle impacts of the two sunscreen lotions studied. TRACI 2.1 was used for the assessment of the impacts which were then normalized and weighted for the ranking of the impact categories.

Results indicate that nano-TiO2 had higher impacts on the environment than the conventional organic chemical UV-blockers (octocrylene and avobenzone). For the two sunscreen lotions studied, nano-TiO2 sunscreen variant had lower environmental life cycle impacts than its counterpart because of the other chemicals used in the formulation. In the organic chemical sunscreen variant the major impacts came from production of glycerine, ethanol, and avobenzone but in the nano-TiO2 sunscreen variant the major impacts came from the production of nano-TiO2 particles.

Analysis further signifies the trade-offs between few environmental impact categories, for example, the human toxicity impacts were more in the nano-TiO2 sunscreen variant, but the other environmental impact categories viz. fossil fuel depletion, global warming potential, eutrophication were less compared to the organic chemical sunscreen variant.

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Date Created
2014

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Integrating environmentally responsible design with life cycle assessment in product and process development for sustainability

Description

Industrial activities have damaged the natural environment at an unprecedented scale. A number of approaches to environmentally responsible design and sustainability have been developed that are aimed at minimizing negative impacts derived from products on the environment. Environmental assessment methods

Industrial activities have damaged the natural environment at an unprecedented scale. A number of approaches to environmentally responsible design and sustainability have been developed that are aimed at minimizing negative impacts derived from products on the environment. Environmental assessment methods exist as well to measure these impacts. Major environmentally responsible approaches to design and sustainability were analyzed using content analysis techniques. The results show several recommendations to minimize product impacts through design, and dimensions to which they belong. Two products made by a manufacturing firm with exceptional commitment to environmental responsibility were studied to understand how design approaches and assessment methods were used in their development. The results showed that the company used several strategies for environmentally responsible design as well as assessment methods in product and process machine design, both of which resulted in reduced environmental impacts of their products. Factors that contributed positively to reduce impacts are the use of measurement systems alongside environmentally responsible design, as well as inspiring innovations by observing how natural systems work. From a managerial perspective, positive influencing factors included a commitment to environmental responsibility from the executive level of the company and a clear vision about sustainability that has been instilled from the top through every level of employees. Additionally, a high degree of collaboration between the company and its suppliers and customers was instrumental in making the success possible.

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Date Created
2014

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The post-consumer waste problem and extended producer responsibility regulations: the case of electronic toys in British Columbia

Description

Currently, consumers throw away products every day, turning those materials into waste. Electronic waste poses special problems when it is not recycled because it may contain toxic components that can leach into landfill surroundings and reach groundwater sources or contaminate

Currently, consumers throw away products every day, turning those materials into waste. Electronic waste poses special problems when it is not recycled because it may contain toxic components that can leach into landfill surroundings and reach groundwater sources or contaminate soil, and its plastic, metal, and electronic materials do not biodegrade and are lost rather than recycled. This study analyzes a system that attempts to solve the electronic post-consumer-waste problem by shifting the economic burden of disposal from local municipalities to producers, reducing its environmental impacts while promoting economic development. The system was created in British Columbia, Canada after the province enacted a recycling regulation based on Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR), a policy strategy that is fast growing globally. The BC recycling regulation requires all e-toy corporations in BC to comply with a government-approved product-stewardship program to recover and dispose of e-toys after they have been discarded by consumers. In response to the regulation, e-toy corporations joined a Canadian non-profit entity that recycles regulated waste. I conducted a case study using in-depth interviews with the stakeholders to identify the outcomes of this program and its potential for replication in other industries. I derived lessons from which corporations can learn to implement stewardship programs based on EPR regulations. The e-toy program demonstrated that creating exclusive programs is neither efficient nor economically feasible. Corporations should expect low recycling rates in the first phases of the program implementation because EPR regulations are long-term strategies. In order to reach any conclusions about the demand of consumers for recycling programs, we need to measure the program's return rates during at least three years. I also derived lessons that apply to the expansion of EPR regulations to a broader scope of product categories. The optimal way to expand EPR policy is to do it by gradually adding new product categories to the regulation on a long-term schedule. By doing so, new categories can take advantage of existing stewardship programs and their infrastructure to recover and recycle the post-consumer products. EPR proved to be an effective option to make corporations start thinking about the end of life of their products.

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Date Created
2014

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A comparison of Los Angeles and Phoenix homeowners' attitudes and behaviors towards outdoor water conservation

Description

Los Angeles, California and Phoenix, Arizona are two naturally water-scarce regions that rely on imported water to meet their local water needs. Both areas have been experiencing an ongoing drought that has negatively affected their local water supply. Populations in

Los Angeles, California and Phoenix, Arizona are two naturally water-scarce regions that rely on imported water to meet their local water needs. Both areas have been experiencing an ongoing drought that has negatively affected their local water supply. Populations in both cities continue to grow, increasing overall demand for water as the supply decreases. Water conservation is important for the sustainability of each town. However, the methods utilized to conserve residential water in the two areas differ drastically; Los Angeles has implemented involuntary water rationing and Phoenix has not.

The widespread effectiveness of involuntary restrictions makes them a popular management scheme. Despite their immediate effectiveness, little is known about how involuntary restrictions affect attitudinal precursors towards the behavior in question and thus, whether or not the restrictions are potentially helpful or harmful to lasting behavior change. This study adapted the Theory of Planned Behavior to survey 361 homeowners in Los Angeles and Phoenix to examine how involuntary water restrictions shape attitudinal precursors to outdoor water conservation.

This study found that when involuntary water restrictions are present, residents feel less in control of their outdoor water use. However, in the presence of involuntary water restrictions, stronger social norms and stronger support for policy prescriptions over outdoor water use were found. The favorable societal support towards water conservation, conceptualized as social norms and policy attitudes, in the presence of involuntary water restrictions is potentially promising for lasting behavior change.

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Date Created
2016

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Its your responsibility: the impact of supply chain CSR performance on firm value

Description

Firms are increasingly being held accountable for the unsustainable actions of their suppliers. Stakeholders, regulatory agencies, and customers alike are calling for increased levels of transparency and higher standards of corporate social responsibility (CSR) performance for suppliers. While it is

Firms are increasingly being held accountable for the unsustainable actions of their suppliers. Stakeholders, regulatory agencies, and customers alike are calling for increased levels of transparency and higher standards of corporate social responsibility (CSR) performance for suppliers. While it is apparent that supplier performance is important, it remains unclear how the stock market weighs the CSR performance of a supplier relative to that of a focal firm. This dissertation focuses on whether these relative differences exist. In addition to capturing the magnitude of the difference in market impact between focal firm and supplier CSR events; I analyze the ways in which these differences have changed over time. To capture this evolution, CSR events ranging over a period from 1994 to 2013 are examined. This research utilizes an event study methodology in which the announcement of over 2,300 CSR events are identified and analyzed to determine the subsequent stock market reaction. I find that while the market evaluated negative supplier CSR events less harshly than events occurring at the buying firm in the early years of the sample, by the turn of the millennium this “supplier discounting" had disappeared. The analysis is broken down by CSR event "type". Findings demonstrate that negative CSR events, particularly those revolving around worker or customer safety, generate the most significant abnormal return. The findings of this dissertation produce valuable managerial insights along with interpretation. Resources are scarce, and understanding where a firm might best allocate their resources to avoid financial penalties will be valuable information for corporate decision makers. These findings present clear evidence that some of these resources should be allocated to supplier CSR performance, not just towards the CSR performance of the focal firm.

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Agent

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Date Created
2016