A Lifecycle Approach
At Sears, the overarching rule of thumb for a product to be considered “eco” is the product must incur a lower environmental impact than its standard counterpart. To determine whether a product meets this rule, we use the Product Life Cycle Approach (LCA) to evaluate potential eco products.
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Material Input: High % of organic, renewable or recycled content
Manufacturing: Lower environmental impact than average industry standards
Packaging: Best practices in eco design and innovation
Consumer Use: Lower energy and water usage, longer durability
End of Life: Recyclability, biodegradability
A product life cycle can begin with extracting raw materials from the ground and generating energy. Materials and energy are then part of manufacturing, packaging, transportation, consumer use (wearing and washing a T-shirt, for example), and eventually recycling, reuse, or disposal. A life cycle approach is a way of thinking which helps us recognize how our actions - such as buying a new appliance or T-shirt - are one part of a whole system of events and how smart decisions at each of the product life cycle stages can positively impact the environment.
For the majority of our products, the largest environmental impact comes from either the Material Input or Consumer Use phase. To qualify as “eco” at Sears, the product in question must demonstrate superior eco attributes in one of these two phases and show average or better performance in the other phases. Suppliers must provide evidence that the Material Input or Consumer Use attributes are superior to their industry average. Sears is also on the lookout for the most reputable eco labels and third party certifications, such as Forest Stewardship Council (FSC), Global Organic Textile Standard (GOTS), and ENERGY STAR.