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Sustainable Manufacturing Metrics

Measuring environmental performance is a key first step on the road to sustainability. However, measuring performance can be difficult, especially for smaller companies. Choosing which metrics to use and just knowing where to start the process can be daunting. Difficulty in measuring performance hampers the adoption of more sustainable manufacturing practices.

The Toolkit provides a set of 18 internationally applicable, common and comparable key performance indicators to measure and improve the environmental performance of manufacturing facilities and products. It can be used by companies of any size and is designed to be used by non-experts.

The toolkit includes an easy to follow start-up guide that introduces the concept and walks users through the measurement process.  It also includes a web portal with in-depth information on the indicators, country-specific sources of data and information, a glossary, best practices, and technical advice.

The toolkit portal and start-up guide can be found at:

Background on the Project

This project, proposed by the United States and supported by other OECD members, has sought to address these issues and develop a set of simplified indicators and guidance that can be used by any facility to measure its environmental performance and make decisions to improve it.

There are numerous reporting frameworks and sets of metrics available. However, each set has its limitations. For example, they may be too complicated for use by non-experts or may provide data that is suitable for external reporting rather than internal decision making.

The United States, working with other countries through the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), began an effort to address critical information gaps in the sustainable manufacturing arena. An OECD study on these issues was proposed by the United States in 2006.

Phase 1 of the project included research into the scope and extent of sustainable manufacturing and eco-innovation, a literature review of current sets of indicators and metrics, and a review of government programs to support sustainable practices and environmental-focused innovation. This first phase of the project also included a conference in Rochester, NY aimed at hearing from leading companies' efforts in this arena. Phase one of the study was completed in 2009, and resulted in the publication, Eco-Innovation in Industry: Enabling Green Growth.

Phase 2 of the project on sustainable manufacturing metrics was the toolkit itself and included a common framework and language, a set of core indicators, methodology on how to measure them, and guidance on how to use the data for internal decision making.

The goals in creating the toolkit included:

  • looking at environmental sustainability holistically, including air, water, energy, GHGs, waste, etc
  • analyzing inputs, processes and products
  • linking improvements to financial costs and benefits and providing frameworks to help make decisions
  • providing information and links to more detailed metrics and guidance
  • using normalized indicators to allow for comparison between facilities and over time
  • being easy to use for even non-experts

Review a June 2009 OECD Policy Brief on this issue or visit the OECD Green Growth & Eco-Innovation site.