Product Life Cycle
We must reduce the impacts and enhance the reliability of our products and services at all stages of their life — from design and manufacturing to use and retirement. Many of our products are built to operate for 15 to 20 years. Designing them to meet current and future regulations adds value for our customers today while helping them prepare for the more stringent regulatory environments to come.
One of our 2020 Targets was to perform a life cycle assessment (LCA) on 100% of new products. By working on this target, we discovered that the greatest opportunity to reduce carbon impacts from our products is concentrated in the use phase. Because continued assessments were not providing additional insights, we refocused this target, having performed LCAs on nearly 30% of new products and several existing product revisions. We are now refocusing through our 2030 Sustainability Commitments with a new goal to design systems for circularity with particular focus in areas that can have material impact on raw material selection, product use phase impacts and end-of-life considerations. In addition to keeping our systems in the field for as long as possible, we want to rethink services to help our customers meet their own sustainability challenges.
Our process, formerly known as the Ingersoll Rand Product Development Process (IRPDP), standardizes life cycle considerations in product development to ensure we are meeting customer needs, assessing risk, embedding sustainability and developing intellectual property. IRPDP modules can be applied at various product development stages. In 2019, IRPDP generated or improved more than 252 product development projects. In phase 2 of IRPDP, the product team identifies environmental, health and safety (EHS) risks or sustainability considerations in complying with related codes that affect the product.
Materials selection and management is a core tenant of a circular economy perspective. We manufacture many of our products’ components from a variety of materials including steel, copper and aluminum. We work closely with suppliers to ensure they share our commitment to sustainability, including reducing packaging, shipping costs and related emissions. Read more about our commitment to supply chain transparency. For more information about our materials management strategy, refer to our Form 10-K.
End of Life: Product Take-back and Recyclability
Our product development process — the IRPDP — accounts for all aspects of product design, including materials manufacturing, the use phase and end-of-use considerations. This approach allows us to identify and reduce environmental impacts through packaging, recycling and manufacturing improvements. Through the IRPDP, product teams evaluate and consider the use of recycled content in new product design. We have also developed specific end-of-use manuals for multiple products and many of our businesses have materials take-back programs. For example, Thermo King deploys independent dealers to take back refrigeration units for resale in secondary markets.
We are committed to eliminating packaging waste through considerations for transport, package material and waste disposal concerns.
Our packaging engineers are working on innovative and efficient solutions for packaging finished goods and parts. We have a returnable packaging program at 14 North American manufacturing sites to reduce more than 2,500 pounds of solid waste produced from packaging annually. To reduce waste in our supply chain, we developed packaging guidelines for our suppliers that aim to decrease use of hazardous substances, reduce waste and emissions and increase reuse and recycling of materials. Preferred packaging systems are returnable, reusable or recyclable.
| Savings in emissions from returnable packaging projects (annually) of more than 1,000 tons of CO2e.
Reduction in solid waste from returnable packaging projects (annually) of more than 1,000 tons.
Bold Commitments. Tangible Progress.
From Wood to Steel: Reusable Product Shipping
One way we’ve made changes in transport is by using a reusable and returnable steel crate to transport products from our Thermo King's Hastings plant to dealers around the country. We use these crates in our small and large trucks and have eliminated 756 tons of hardwood crating materials from landfills annually. This is the equivalent of saving 16 acres of forest each year — all because we went from wood crates to reusable, returnable steel crates.