Build Stronger Supplier Relationships 


Build Stronger Supplier Relationships 

As a quality assurance professional, you are likely to have noted some of the major changes in the industry and how they have related to your job specifically. The move from a simple transactional approach that did not require any amount of fostering to a more supplier-oriented relationship that requires commitment, buy-in, and collaboration between you and your buying office. It also can not go unnoted that there are also much more stringent guidelines and compliance criteria to adhere to.  With this in mind, it is important to note these changes and make adjustments where necessary. As this will keep you at the forefront of global trends and keep you competing in a global market. In this blog post, we will explore some of the historic global sourcing trends and what the changes in these trends can mean for you and your supplier relationships. Through the years the technological revolution has optimized every sector on the planet, the shift from a transactional approach to procurement to a more strategic, holistic approach to the entire supply chain, with an emphasis on stronger supplier relationships to fully optimize the entire supply chain.  

The Evolution of Global Sourcing

how to build long term supplier relationships .jpgLet’s take a dive into some of the historical trends with regards to global sourcing. A brief overview will provide us with why we keep up with these trends and what these trends mean for today. They underpin the way in which we currently view and conduct sourcing, so it is important to understand how sourcing has evolved. In the early 60’s there was a great focus on purchasing although this was still a clerical based position, as we moved through to the 70’s there was an acknowledgement of the enormity of the task so it became its own department, a department solely focused on purchasing and all the procedures that go into that. As history goes, politics, the environment, and government affect every element of the economy and the manner in which it functions, shifts and changes. The oil embargo in the late 70’s pushed the agenda of purchasing into the hands of businesses, this made purchasing in the 80’s take a more strategic look into quality, quantity, timing, reliability, and strategy. As I am sure you are aware, the 90’s was all about reducing costs, sometimes at the expense of quality. Although there was also a greater emphasis on developing long-term supplier relationships, with long-term contracts. This era also birthed good supplier relationship management. The progression of technology felt its way through each decade making the systems of sourcing that much easier and a more efficient procedure, not to say that the complexities of sourcing did not grow alongside that. Today we see technology at the forefront of our sourcing strategies, allowing room for efficiency, transparency, accountability in order to work towards a more unified,  productive and strategic approach to sourcing.

Check out our comprehensive guide to learn more about implementing a global quality assurance system.

What do these changes in sourcing mean for you?

Global Sourcing Long term supplier relationship.jpgGlobal sourcing as a whole has made it essential for companies to improve their internal processes in order to continue being successful and at the forefront of global trends. This is not always possible with the speed at which technology evolves. You might find that it may be beneficial for you to adopt specific strategies to become more adaptable and dedicate time to continuously research changes that occur in order to keep on top of this ever-changing industry. Below is a list of sourcing strategy patterns that may resonate with you:
  • Technology oriented sourcing: Technology can have a transformational impact on your supply chain and your management systems, allowing for technical innovations to your sourcing strategy, will assist in keeping you ahead of global trends.
  • Cost oriented global sourcing: The goal here is to save costs. This strategy can be useful for standardized products with easily accessible suppliers.
  • Competition oriented global sourcing: A strategic competitive strategy with the goal being to gain new product ideas by looking for a broad range of good suppliers to increase competition.
  • Partnership oriented global sourcing: This approach highlights the collaborative approach of engaging suppliers in long-term partnerships allowing room for information sharing, there is also investment in the end product or outcome this ensures full client satisfaction. This, in turn, leads to constant improvements along your supply chain.
The above-mentioned strategy patterns to global sourcing assist in defining a clear vision for you and your sourcing strategies. IKEA faced a local supplier ban, which meant that local suppliers were unable to supply to them which forced them to source product outside of their country of origin, Sweden. The key thing to note here is how they fostered and took advantage of creating long term, strong supplier relationships during this time which allowed them to sustain their low-cost home furnishing position in the market. There is now more of a collaborative approach between suppliers and buying offices, there are mutual benefits, thus the emphasis on creating long-term sustainable and stronger supplier relationships to increase productivity and alleviate some of the supplier related pressures. How have these changes affected you specifically? How have you adjusted the way in which you operate to adopt these kinds of strategies?  

Check out our comprehensive guide to learn more about implementing a global quality assurance system.

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Improve Product Compliance with Good Supplier Relationships

When it comes down to accurately communicating quality expectations, importer/supplier relationships matter. The way importers of old dealt with their suppliers has indeed come a long way from the humble medium of email correspondence. Expectations were simply laid out, and promises were made of securing the lowest possible cost per unit and a compliant product, delivered in the fastest possible time. The distant nature of the entire process meant that importers were often kept in the dark when the pressure of an increase in the demand of products hit. The factory often suffered setbacks and compromised on all of their promises purely to maintain the relationship, as long as the quota was met and the order was sent out. Fact is, working within the confines of a relationship like this was high risk. Luckily, times have changed, technology has advanced and smart importers have learned to bring their suppliers a lot closer into the fold from the very beginning. This type of engagement creates an open platform where expectations are communicated and agreed upon clearly, so that each partner can meet the needs of the other, and hold each other accountable when things go awry. With the current volatility of global markets and increased amount of product recalls we are seeing, building a mutually beneficial relationship with your supplier to ensure product compliance has never been as important as it is today. In this post we will share 3 tips to help you ensure improved product compliance by showing you how you can (and should) be building good supplier relationships for your brand today. #1 IMPROVED PRODUCT COMPLIANCE STARTS WITH COMMUNICATION As an importer you will have likely experienced the challenges of communication with your supplier, whether it be a language barrier or simply them not keeping you in the loop. What you may not have come to realize is that the manner in which you communicate with your supplier may be a part of your struggle. “So how will you communicate? Email?” Whilst this platform forms the basis of almost all business related matters with its easy access, it is a platform that keeps us somewhat at arm’s length and often misunderstandings happen, creating a back and forth flurry of emails that becomes incredibly difficult to keep track of, creating more confusion than any kind of clarity. “If not email, then what?” There are a host of other professional communication tools that you can use to your advantage, but before we dive into what those tools are, let’s get old school… Pick up the telephone. As obvious as it may sound, a personal call will go a long way to helping clear up any and all confusion at once, freeing up your inbox and allowing your thoughts and expectations to be understood more clearly. Now, just jumping on the phone with no clear direction will not be a good use of your time, or your supplier’s time. Prepare a list of questions that you may have to address any misgivings you may have. This will save you both time and provide clarity going forward. Let’s take a look at some of the communication tools that are out there that can begin aiding a communicative relationship between you and your supplier;

Skype -This is an online messaging application that also has video and voice chat services.

Zoom – This application provides convenient video conferencing services for any meetings that you want to include your supplier in on.

Whatsapp -A mobile application that allows for instant messaging and in-app calling.

When it comes to clearing up product specifications, you may find that the above toolsGood supplier relationships - Clear communication will provide an easier platform to discuss these matters in-depth, with absolute understanding and clarity. Personally I find Zoom a favorite for all conference calling, it has helped me stay in touch with a lot more ease than just relying on email. Now that we have spoken about the means of communication, we need to address the frequency and manner of communication. “How often do you phone your supplier to just talk about basic business operations?” The more constant the flow of communication is, the more you will begin to get to know your supplier, and where your business sits in the grander scheme of their operations (and how much they stand to lose if they make mistakes). This level of trust that you begin to build with your supplier will help to keep them honest and accountable if you happen to receive a delivery of products that are non compliant. This kind of communication provides clarity and indicates to your supplier that you trust them to fix the problem to achieve the level of compliance that your company has set as the standard.


Cash flow that affects the bottom line is a very real struggle. The margins for many suppliers is always very thin. So when you do not pay, it puts your supplier in a really difficult position, and not only for you (and how they treat your order of products), but for their other customers too. This kind of behavior will break any form of trust. Suppliers will often take a note of Good supplier relationships - clear payment termsimporters that do not pay on time so as to avoid those kinds of risks for themselves in the future. What is advisable with regards to payment is ensuring that you have laid out all your payment terms with your supplier. In doing this you create a level of transparency with your supplier which can prove to be invaluable. If you have been in this position before, as I am sure you have, I would say that the best practice here would be the same as tip #1; Communication You need to communicate your situation immediately, creating an honest and open relationship with your supplier which will put you in good stead for future orders.


Ensure that your goals are clearly communicated upfront. This can be done in the initial meeting with a potential supplier if you are able to visit their factory, or via correspondence. You should draw up a document stating your expectations from the get-go, along with a set of achievable goals that need to be reached. A document like this will also need to be clear about the level of product and supply chain compliances that need to be achieved.

This goes for your supplier as well. They too will have expectations of you. Write these down to ensure absolute clarity between both parties.

The longer you work with a supplier, the more familiar they become with the way in which you prefer to operate. Good supplier relationships - goal setting This knowledge creates an improvement in their service to you as operational times and quality procedures are improved accordingly. If any issues arise, your supplier will also be able to handle them more effectively, and continue to stay in line with your brand’s compliance standards. While these tips may seem overly obvious, if you can perfect them you will be well on your way to building a strong, healthy supplier relationship that will have far-reaching benefits for you; from improved delivery times to high quality compliant products for your brand. This is only some of what you can do to begin aiding a trustworthy long-term supplier relationship.


Creating a high level of compliance and transparency has become crucial to business success. Today, consumers are more concerned and aware of where their products come from and the manner in which they were made than they ever were. Better importer/supplier collaboration helps foster growth for your brand as your products are able to get to the market faster, and represent the quality you promise your customers. Your supplier will also begin to firmly recognize the importance of your business, and start to take real ownership of the end products and their quality. “How has creating a good supplier relationship been of benefit to creating a compliant, transparent supply chain for you, and if it hasn’t, why do you think so? Let me know your thoughts in the comments section below.

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10 Steps Hard Goods Manufacturers Can Take to Save Energy

In the recent years businesses and communities across Asia have been repeatedly shaken by severe weather events with worse damages in decades caused by the destructive power of the accelerating changes in climate. The Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP) has concluded that climate change magnifies the risks from natural disasters, increasing the costs of protecting people from negative impacts.

The Asian Development Bank (ADB) estimates that the intense rains leading to massive floods in India, Bangladesh, and Nepal bring financial losses of up to $215 billion each year to the region’s economies. The super-typhoons battering Philippines, China, and Hong Kong are disrupting not just local business operations, but also their product supply chains around the globe. ADB projects that 410 million of Asians will be vulnerable to coastal flooding by 2025, while over 60% of the region’s population is currently employed in business sectors that are at high risk of suffering from the impacts of climate change.

The rapidly expanding manufacturing industry in Asia is a significant contributor to greenhouse gas pollution due to high energy consumption, and the region’s share is expected to reach 43% of the world electricity demand by 2030. The welfare losses from the increasing exposure to the industrial emissions are estimated to cost South and South-East Asia equal to 7.5 % of regional gross domestic product. Without radical changes in business operations, Asia and the Pacific could emit 48% of the world’s greenhouse gases during the next decade.  China is now considered the world’s biggest polluter of greenhouse gases, producing 28% of global carbon emissions, more than the United States and Europe combined. The manufacturing industry is the largest energy consumer in China, currently accounting for 56.7% of the total national annual energy consumption. The energy intensity in the Chinese manufacturing industry is high above the global average levels, and the government data shows that China’s electricity consumption has increased by 6.6 percent in 2017, with most of the additional energy supply derived from burning coal, generating drastic amounts of greenhouse gases.

The International Energy Outlook 2018 published by the U.S. Energy Information Administration predicts China will remain by far the world’s leading producer of energy-intensive goods with the projected energy consumption increasing up to 25% by 2040 unless the industry transforms its energy management practices. The resulting greenhouse gas emissions would accelerate climate change posing significant risks to local communities and ecosystems, triggering extreme weather with stronger droughts, winds, and rains, higher sea levels, and warmer oceans creating more powerful storms and coastal damage. The manufacturing industry would suffer serious losses, as its operations are sensitive to high temperatures, extreme weather conditions, and freshwater shortage. Data analysis of half a million Chinese manufacturing plants suggests that accelerating climate change would dramatically lower the output for the Chinese manufacturing sector falling by 12% annually, equivalent to a loss of $39.5 billion in 2007 dollars. As the Chinese manufacturing sector accounts for 32% of the national GDP and supplies 12% of global exports, the impacts on the local and global economies would be substantial.

In the 2015 Paris Agreement, an international treaty on climate change signed by almost 200 countries, China has officially committed to peak carbon emissions around 2030. In its  National Strategy on Energy Production and Consumption Revolution (2016-2030), China set an ambitious energy consumption target of 6 billion tonnes of coal equivalent maximum in 2030.

Complying with the National Strategy and safeguarding the manufacturing industry long-term interests requires decoupling of energy consumption from economic growth, implementing sustainable energy management strategies at the local level, investing in improving industrial energy efficiency capabilities. Sustainable energy management involves systematic continuous efforts to improve energy efficiency through behavioural changes, smart managerial and technological solutions to optimise the company operations. Luckily, these efforts tend to pay off, strengthening the company’s resource security, public image, and long-term economic resilience. The Carbon Trust estimates that a 20% cut in manufacturing energy costs will bring the same bottom line benefits as a 5% increase in sales.

API sustainability experts have developed this step-by-step guide to help manufacturers better understand their business energy performance, risks, and opportunities, implement energy efficiency best practices, and achieve a sustainable return on investment.

1. Assess your energy consumption 

Conduct a detailed documented energy review of your company’s facilities and operations, analyse energy use and consumption data, determine areas of significant energy use, identify opportunities for improving energy efficiency. Energy assessment involves analysis of the historical utility data over a period of 12-24 months with a detailed load breakdown and on-site analysis of significant energy uses, their relevant variables, risks, current energy performance, and identification of workers that influence or affect it to prevent dysfunction and energy waste.  

Create a centralised Energy Management Information System (EMIS) using a specialised software platform with instant online access to energy information, measurement data and costs, details about energy conservation measures, and records of resulting savings. Energy information can be gathered either in real time or reported on a daily basis to determine the current energy performance and identify factors of significant energy consumption, evaluate energy performance against set targets. EMIS facilitates timely informed decisions for effective operational management at the relevant level of your organisation.


Use the information collected from the initial energy review to establish an energy baseline using the historical utility data, recorded energy use trends, and benchmarking. Identify the appropriate energy performance indicators to monitor and measure energy performance against the energy baseline. Use specialised energy and sustainability software portals to document the calculation methodologies, data management processes, change management procedures, greenhouse gas emissions inventories, and associated roles, responsibilities, and timeframe.  

Measure any changes in the energy performance against the identified energy baseline, reassessed and update the baseline annually or when there are major changes to the static factors. The obtained data can be used to report the company’s ongoing energy and environmental performance.


Use the energy information obtained from the energy review assessment to select sites and processes that are using excessive energy and have the potential for energy efficiency improvements. Employ an energy expert to perform a comprehensive on-site audit of facilities and site operations. The auditor should produce a customised action plan specifying no cost, low-cost, and medium cost solutions to reduce energy consumption, as well as areas that require capital-intensive investments in energy efficiency.

Establish an ongoing program of audits and assessments with regular internal auditions at planned intervals to evaluate the dynamics of energy consumption against the energy objectives and targets, assess the effectiveness of the implementation of energy conservation measures, develop corrective actions and preventive actions. Use an energy and sustainability portal to develop consistent audit plans and document the audit results and recommendations. Energy audits should identify individual equipment energy usage share, suggest priority areas for energy and cost reductions, and produce recommendations for further actions for on-site personnel and other corporate sustainability stakeholders.


In collaboration with energy experts, create an effective energy policy highlighting your approach to sustainable energy management, commitment to continual improvement in energy conservation specifying energy performance indicators, objectives, and targets. The energy policy should be accompanied by a document management plan describing the scope, process, and methods for reporting data including calculation methodologies, boundaries, auditing, and verification procedures.

Introduce an Energy Data Collection Plan specifying which data is required to effectively monitor the key characteristics related to significant energy uses such as relevant variables, operational characteristics, and static factors. Specify in what way and at what intervals should the data be collected and documented.


The Energy Management Action Plan determines the responsibilities, resources, time frame, and methods for energy performance measurement, monitoring, evaluation, verification, and reporting. The Plan should include energy strategy communication methods and tools for management, employees, and end-users and awareness training making sure that all employees are competent to perform their roles and receive the appropriate information and training.


Perform ongoing energy assessments to optimise your operational efficiencies: monitor, measure, and analyse the crucial aspects of your operations, significant energy uses, their variables, energy performance indicators, dynamics towards achieving energy reduction objectives and targets using real-time metering tools to collect, log, mine, and analyse energy data. Maintain accessible detailed records of the monitoring results traceable to the relevant activities.

Establish a common automated system that can process the obtained data sets and identify, model, visualise, and evaluate progress to help identify and implement the most viable control measures. Consolidating energy data, modelling production energy consumption, and expert energy analytics of actual performance against the expected energy consumption projections can save you up to 30% of the manufacturing energy costs. Regular monitoring will provide you with valuable statistics on the facility’s energy demand, facilitate forecasting and load aggregation, optimise operating performance, predict energy loads, modify production schedules according to energy demands, control capability, leverage off-peak times, identify power quality issues that can compromise your operations and protect your equipment, predict, assess, and reduce the associated environmental impacts.


Monitor and report operational costs and procurement of energy supply, services, and assets to make informed decisions for further business development. Use financial appraisal tools such as simple payback period calculations or discounted cash flow techniques to assess the net present value and internal rate of return. For capital-intensive projects, use Life Cycle Cost Analysis to calculate the costs and financial savings that may occur over the entire project lifetime to evaluate whether the investment will be profitable in the long-term perspective.   

Based on the calculations of projected cost-savings, devise a sustainable procurement strategy. The calculations of potential energy savings from energy efficiency projects must be verified proving the adequacy of selected measures and ability to deliver the desired results. Introduce a Measurement and Verification process to increase the credibility of energy management within your organisation and ensure the future allocation of resources for implementing energy efficiency projects. The International Performance Measurement and Verification Protocol provides recognized methods and techniques for determining different types of savings across the industrial processes and facilities, describes best practices in savings recording, accurate estimation, and verifiable reporting of energy savings.


Utilize performance-based energy management matrices to review the existing energy management practices within your organization, analyse your operations in terms of energy management, financial allocation, awareness and organization, technical issues. Define clear targets for all activities and prioritize energy management actions.

Manufacturers typically apply three levels of matrices: top level matrix summarising the results for an organization, organisational matrices mapping out activity levels in each of the areas listed above and then feeding results into the top level, and detailed matrices covering all the technologies within the built environment and feeding the results into the second level technical matrix.

9. Get carbon neutral certified

Introducing carbon management programs for your business can help you evaluate, monitor, reduce, prevent, or compensate your greenhouse gas emissions by tracking the dynamics of your carbon footprint and implementing adequate carbon reduction measures. Carbon neutral certifications can significantly reduce your company’s ecological footprint and boost your brand image showing your customers, partners, and investors that your products are environmentally safe and sustainable.

Proactively implementing carbon management work practices helps companies to comply with the increasingly strict national and international environmental regulations. Obtaining recognized certifications and labels for the household goods industry helps  optimize the resource use, reduce the energy demand throughout the product’s life cycle, prevent environmental damage, minimize risks, financial losses, and production costs in the long run.


Seek professional help from energy experts experienced in sustainable manufacturing best practices to build an effective energy management framework for your business.

API is a recognized expert in energy conservation and sustainable manufacturing of household goods with a rich practical experience in strategic energy management and preparation for carbon neutral certification . Our sustainability experts and specialists in household goods can help you develop and implement sustainable management strategies, policies and action plans, achieve legal compliance with environmental legislation, implement long-term carbon reduction initiatives, verify your energy performance and implement international standards.

We specialize in sustainability services, evaluation of manufacturing processes, carbon footprint calculation, life cycle assessment, independent performance verification and validation, sustainable supply chain management, and professional sustainability training.

For more information and guidance, please book an API consultation.

All data is quoted from and belongs to published literature. API does not hold any responsibility for the accuracy, timeliness or validity of any data or information. 


Hardgoods Industry: Environmental Legislation & Standards

The global expansion of the hardgoods industry is creating incredible opportunities for business growth and an unprecedented pressure on communities and ecosystems across all continents.

The hardgoods production has significant impacts on the environment and human health causing extensive pollution, increasing land degradation, destructing wildlife habitats, over-exploiting natural resources, contaminating water, and accumulating hazardous waste. Life cycle assessment (LCA) is a recognized tool for assessing all the direct and indirect impacts of goods production, consumption, and utilization that must be accounted for to evaluate the environmental performance of your business.

The industry impacts include:

  • Emissions of greenhouse gas (GHG) that accelerate global climate change
  • Pollution with eutrophying substances like nitrogen and phosphorus
  • Contamination with toxic waste dangerous to human health and ecosystems
  • Depletion of nonrenewable resources including fossils and metals
  • Exploitation of biotic resources such as wood leading to deforestation and ecosystem degradation
  • Industrial use of land leading to erosion and natural habitat destruction
  • High freshwater demand for production resulting in water scarcity, and contamination of waterways.

Intensive energy demand is a significant factor, as the household consumption accounts for 60% or more of the product life cycle impacts,  reaching up to 70% for industrialized countries. Manufactured products, particularly electrical appliances, are among top three contributors to the carbon footprint of rich countries due to their high energy use. As the products are traded globally through complex supply chains, it can be difficult to assess their total impact contribution. Emerging economies across Asia are exporting large amounts of products, so a substantial share of the environmental burden from their consumption by the Western countries is translocated to the Asian countries where the products are being manufactured.

The human health impacts are related to the emissions of greenhouse gases, chemical air pollutants, ozone-depleting, and radioactive emissions. The environmental health risk factors are associated with the production emissions of carbon dioxide, nitrous oxide, methane, fine particulate matter, Nitrogen oxides, Sulphur dioxide, and ammonia that are dangerous to human health. Unsafe water, sanitation, and hygiene contribute 3.7% of the global burden of disease, lead exposure accounts for 0.9%, urban air pollution 0.4%, climate change 0.4%, occupational exposure to particulates 0.3%, and carcinogens 0.06%.

International Legislation

As the nations grow more aware of these ecotoxic effects on their economies and wellbeing, the environmental legislation is becoming ever more stringent. To make the industry safer and sustainable in the long run, the governments are introducing strict mandatory restrictions and industry regulations. The European Union has successfully adopted Ecodesign and energy labeling to improve the resource efficiency of goods production. Product life cycle analysis is applied to identify and eliminate the least efficient products from the market, driving environmental innovation, stimulating industrial competitiveness, and sustainable investment. The Ecodesign Directive provides rules for all member states aimed at improving the environmental performance and energy efficiency of products including household appliances, electronic goods, information and communication technologies. National market surveillance authorities verify that products sold in the EU follow the requirements of Ecodesign and Energy Labelling Regulations.

Such a holistic approach removes barriers to sustainable trade, boosts product quality, and ensures environmental protection. A number of countries outside the EU have developed similar legislation including the USA, Australia, Japan, China, and Brazil. Hong Kong, which annually generates 70,000 tonnes of waste electrical and electronic equipment, has now introduced the Producer responsibility scheme (PRS) as a key policy tool for sustainable waste management. The concept is based on the principle of “polluter pays” and “eco-responsibility” requiring manufacturers, importers, wholesalers, retailers, and consumers to share the responsibility for collecting, recycling, treatment, and disposal of end-of-life products to avoid and reduce their environmental impacts at the post-consumer stage. Starting from August 2018, suppliers of regulated electrical equipment (REE) including computers, televisions, printers, scanners, monitors, as well as washing machines, air-conditioners, and refrigerators, must be registered by the Environmental Protection Department of Hong Kong before distributing REE. Registered suppliers must fulfill a set of statutory obligations such as submitting returns to Department, providing recycling labels, and paying recycling levies. Sellers must further provide their consumers with recycling labels, a receipt for recycling levies, and arrange a free equipment disposal service.

National and international environmental certifications provide various useful tools for the hardgoods industry players to identify, evaluate, improve, and verify their environmental performance and help fulfill their legal obligations. TCO Certified, an international sustainability certification for IT products, sets out sustainability criteria for to ensure safety, environmental and social responsibility during the whole life cycle of the IT product from design, to manufacturing, use, and recycling. This certification requires detailed verification of the key aspects of sustainability performance.

The Green Electronics Council has developed a global rating system known as the Electronic Product Environmental Assessment Tool (EPEAT) that rates electronic products on a life cycle basis. EPEAT allows evaluating, comparing, and choosing electronics based on their environmental attributes specified for different categories including PCs, displays, televisions, printers, copiers, scanners, multifunction devices, fax machines, and more. The system aims to eliminate toxic substances from the manufacturing, promote use of recycled and recyclable materials, facilitate product design for recycling, extend product longevity, improve energy efficiency, boost corporate performance, and implement sustainable product packaging strategies.

Mandatory Product Labeling In China

The General Administration of Quality, Supervision, Inspection and Quarantine (AQSIQ) is the main body in China regulating all aspects of product quality including energy efficiency standards and environmental compliance. All manufacturers must submit energy efficiency information for their products to the China Energy Label Center before putting those products on the market. The Energy Label currently applies to four products including air conditioners, household refrigerators, washing machines, and unitary air conditioners.

The Certification and Accreditation Commission of China (CNCA) gives accreditations to testing laboratories and overseeing any certification schemes including the voluntary energy efficiency endorsement labeling program operated by the China Quality Certification Center (CQC).

The National Energy Conservation Law requires all enterprises manufacturing, importing, or selling energy-using products which fail to meet MEPS to stop production. The products that fail compliance and any associated gains are considered illegal and get confiscated, and the responsible persons are fined 1-5 times of money equal to the illegal gains. The Industrial and Commercial Administrative Department can also revoke the enterprise’s business license. High penalties are imposed for products covered by mandatory label requirements in cases when the labeling is irregular or missing, or the record product energy efficiency parameters have not been registered under the China National Institute of Standardization (CNIS) database before labeling, or if the labeling is misleading or false. These programs proved to be successful significantly reducing the energy consumption of appliances in China.

Voluntary Standards

Customers all over the world tend to have more trust in products with environmental labels or recognized certifications. Manufacturers, distributors, and retailers can attract more clients and gain a strong competitive advantage on the modern market by implementing international voluntary standards for environmental management.

The ISO 14040 Standard utilizes the product life cycle assessment (LCA) methods for developing the life cycle inventory analysis (LCI), the life cycle impact assessment (LCIA), the life cycle interpretation, reporting, critical review, and intended application. LCA is a remarkable tool for strategic planning that allows companies to identify opportunities for improving the product design and environmental performance throughout their life cycle. It also helps to market their achievements using ecolabelling schemes, environmental claims, and environmental product declarations (EPD).

EPD is a useful tool compliant with the ISO 14025 Standard for Environmental labels and declarations that verifies information about the environmental impacts associated with a product, enables objective communication, and product comparison based on the LCA. EPD includes product and company information covering raw material acquisition, energy use and efficiency, material and chemical content, emissions to air, soil, and water, as well as waste generation. ISO 14044 provides guidelines and specifies requirements for all stages of the LCA, establishes the relationship between the LCA phases, and conditions for use of value choices and optional elements.

ECOLOGO certifies products, services, and packaging for reduced environmental impacts based on their LCA. ECOLOGO Certifications are voluntary and multi-attribute, indicating that a product has undergone adequate scientific testing, exhaustive auditing, or both, in order to prove compliance with third-party environmental performance standards. These standards set metrics for a wide variety of criteria for environmental health and safety, materials management, energy efficiency, manufacturing, operations, product performance and use, product stewardship, and innovation.

The Cradle to Cradle Certified™ Product Standard provides guidance for designers and manufacturers for establishing a continual improvement process addressing key product quality categories including renewable energy and carbon management, material health and reutilization, water stewardship, and social fairness. The assessment allows choosing the safest materials by evaluating the potential hazards of chemicals used in production, maximize the percentage of renewable and recycled content and ensure the materials can be safely reused, recycled, or composted at the product’s end of life. The Standard also promotes renewable sources of energy and offsetting carbon emissions from the manufacturing, addresses industrial water impacts and chemicals in the wastewater. Additionally, the certification verifies fair conditions for employees, supply chain and the local communities.

Complying with voluntary environmental standards and obtaining certifications like ECOLOGO can bring multiple benefits for any business. Demonstrating your commitment and leadership in sustainability will attract new clients and elevate your customer perception using smart sustainable branding and marketing strategies. It will also reduce your production costs, facilitate sustainable procurement, and establish a green supply chain.

Professional Help

API household goods specialists can help you prove your customers, partners, and investors that your products meet world-class environmental, social, and quality standards. Our experts will help you assess, improve the environmental performance of your manufacturing activities, identify and verify the production impacts, conduct product life cycle assessment, calculate carbon footprint, prepare your business for environmental certification, and ensure legal compliance.

Contact us today to discuss how we can help you make your business more sustainable.

For more information about sustainability in the household industry, please visit our page.


Getting Carbon Neutral Certified: A 2018 Guide

Climate leadership is the key to business success in the modern market of household goods, and the long-term economic growth largely depends on how well the companies understand the climate-related risks and implement appropriate mitigation strategies.

Climate change already has visible measurable impacts on our society: air pollution causes over 7 million premature deaths worldwide each year, and if we do not change our business practices urgently, the resulting health costs could amount to $4 billion per year by 2030. Any further increase in temperatures will pose major risks to human health, security, well-being, assets, economy, and ecosystems. Climate scientists predict that global warming of 1.5°C – 2°C will significantly disrupt human and ecological systems accelerating extreme weather events such as heat waves, heavy rains, floods, droughts, and wildfires, amplifying human morbidity and mortality, increasing the spread of vector-borne diseases, causing water and food supply shortages due to reduced crop yields and livestock.

Unabated climate change will also have devastating economic effects: the World Bank estimates the equivalent cost of extreme natural disasters globally as $520 billion loss in annual consumption, projecting that 26 million people would be pushed into poverty each year, and as many as 143 million people from developing regions could become climate migrants by 2050, especially communities that strongly depend on agricultural and coastal livelihoods.

Carbon Neutrality

Carbon neutrality implies achieving net zero carbon emissions by compensating the equivalent amount of greenhouse gases released during all the processes associated with energy consumption, industrial production, and transportation. Greenhouse gases (GHG) are measured in terms of their carbon dioxide equivalence reflecting the impact each GHG has on the atmosphere including methane (CH4), nitrous oxide (N2O), hydrofluorocarbons (HFC), perfluorocarbons (PFC), and sulphur hexafluoride (SF6).

To achieve carbon neutrality, we must adopt a new business approach using sustainable investment to develop adequate infrastructure and implement technological innovations that increase the resource productivity allowing lasting, balanced, sustainable, inclusive, and carbon neutral economic growth. Companies must reduce and avoid carbon emissions as much as possible by improving their resource efficiency and implementing energy conservation measures. The unavoidable emissions released from using fossil fuels can be balanced with producing a similar amount of renewable energy or switching entirely to renewable energy sources. Emissions can also be offset by paying other companies to remove or sequester the equivalent carbon dioxide, funding carbon projects that help prevent future greenhouse gas emissions, or buying carbon credits from recognised carbon trading schemes.

The 2018 Report of the Commission on the Economy and Climate concludes that limiting the cumulative global anthropogenic emissions of greenhouse gases will require an investment of US$90 trillion for developing climate neutral solutions and resilient infrastructure in the period up to 2030 in order to stay in a secure total global carbon budget. A big share of this investment will be programmed in the next few years, and the International Finance Corporation estimates that the climate investment opportunities will total $23 trillion in emerging markets by 2030.

Carbon Policies And Regulations

As the regulators are placing increasingly stringent restrictions on the industrial emissions and hazardous material use, companies have a higher risk of legal liability and litigation. are becoming more vulnerable to litigation and liability risks. To ensure compliance and stay competitive on the market, businesses must implement proactive strategies and sustainable work practices to make their products carbon neutral.

The 1997 Kyoto Protocol signed by 192 parties became the first legally binding intergovernmental agreement under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) that obliged industrialised countries to reduce their collective emissions of greenhouse gases. Countries that ratified the Kyoto Protocol were assigned maximum carbon emission levels and could participate in the Clean development mechanism (CDM), Joint implementation (JI), and Emissions Trading  designed to help stimulate green investment and meet emission targets in a cost-effective way.

In 2016, Kyoto Protocol was officially replaced by the Paris Agreement ratified by 183 Parties (174 countries and the European Union) with the aim  to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and limit the global temperature increase to below 2 degrees Celsius (3.6 F) above pre-industrial levels by the year 2100. The Agreement acknowledges the urgent need for governments, cities, regions, businesses, and investors to scale up the global response to climate change and provides an international framework to reach a net-zero carbon market obliging countries to set ambitious goals for driving GHG emissions reductions and implementing national decarbonisation plans.

In 2015, China has declared an official commitment to the greenhouse gas reduction accord under a plan submitted to the United Nations in support of the Paris Agreement aiming to cut its greenhouse gas emissions per unit of gross domestic product by 60-65% from 2005 levels. The Chinese government is now introducing strong national policies, action plans, and regulations to combat climate change and minimise environmental degradation. The objectives for reducing the carbon emission intensity have been specified individually for different provinces and cities across China ranging from 12% to 20.5% by 2020. The long-term goal is to lower the carbon intensity of GDP by 60%–65%, increase the share of non-fossil energy carriers up to 20% and grow the forest stock volume by 4.5 billion cubic metres compared to 2005 levels by 2030.

China plans to launch a national carbon emission trading market this year aiming to lower the cost of achieving GHG reduction goals using a total carbon emission cap and quota for enterprises with annual energy consumption of at least 10,000 tons of coal equivalent. The Chinese carbon market is estimated to become the largest in the world, double the size of the current EU Emissions Trading System. The new rules will cover eight industrial sectors including electric power generation, aviation, chemicals, petrochemicals, construction materials, iron and steel, non-ferrous metals, and paper production. Based in Shanghai, trading will involve 1,700 power companies covering over 3 billion tonnes of carbon dioxide annually.

Additionally, 13th Five-Year Eco-environmental Protection Plan has been adopted to promote a cleaner and greener economy by improving the air, water and soil quality, expanding forest reserve and coverage, and reducing key pollutant emissions. The main goal is to reach more than 292 days a year of excellent and good air quality by 2020 in major cities across China.

The Central People’s Government has confirmed that the Paris Agreement also applies to the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region. An ambitious carbon intensity target was set to achieve 65%-70% reduction by 2030 against the baseline from 2005. This is equivalent to 26%-36% absolute reduction and a decrease to 3.3-3.8 tonnes per capita. Meanwhile, Singapore has pledged to reduce emissions intensity by 16% from business-as-usual levels by 2020 and by 36% from 2005 levels by 2030.  

Sunset Wind Farm (1)

Recognized Certifications And Labels For Household Goods

China Environmental Label is a governmental approval symbol that establishes environmental standards for electronics, cosmetics, textiles, vehicles, construction materials, packaging, and more. The Label is awarded to products that maintain high-quality standards and meet the environmental protection requirements during the production, use, and disposal phases. The labelled products are considered less harmful, less energy intensive, and more resource-efficient when compared with the same type of products on the market. Product categories for labelling include electronics and electric appliances, building products, cleaning products, cosmetics, and personal care.

Hong Kong Eco-label is a product certification that validates whether the environmental performance of the product conforms to the relevant technical environmental standards.

It has been developed by the Hong Kong Federation of Environmental Protection to mark products and their packaging that comply with the quality standards, conform to the certain environmental requirements in the process of producing, use and recycle, and are proven to have superior environmental performance compared to similar products on the market in terms of energy conservation, contamination, and damage to the environment. The categories of household goods eligible for the certification include household furniture, toys, television sets, air coolers, and more.

Hongkong Eco-label integrates China National Standards and international standards for eco-labelling including ISO 14021, ISO 14024 and ISO 14025 aiming to establish technical requirements for products, lift the technical barriers to trade, and promote the certification business in accordance with the international best practices. The requirements to conform with Hong Kong Eco-label standard vary depending on the standard following ISO 17025 Testing and Calibration Laboratories, ISO / IEC Guide 65 Product Certification.

The Hong Kong Green Label Scheme (HKGLS) is an independent voluntary scheme for the certification of environmentally preferable products launched by the Green Council. The Scheme sets out environmental standards and awards “Green Label” to products that qualify in terms of environmental performance. “Green Label” encourages manufacturers to supply eco-friendly products and promotes sustainable consumption, offering a convenient way for consumers to recognise environmentally responsible products. Applicants are certified against the standard’s criteria before using the label. Conformity is verified by an independent organisation following ISO 17025 Testing and Calibration Laboratories, ISO / IEC Guide 65 Product Certification. HKGLS is an ISO 14024 Type 1 label that requires compliance with applicable legislation and a third-party certification with considerations of life cycle impacts.

Products eligible for HKGLS certification include computers, monitors, fax machines, printers, electronic and electrical appliances, refrigeration appliances, air-conditioners, air cleaners, and small home appliances. HKGLS certification has been granted to various new green label products including  the ECO Toner Cartridge developed by Print-Rite.Unicorn Image Products Co., Ltd. of ZhuHai), bizhub C220, C280, C360, Multifunction Devices by Konica Minolta Business Solutions (H.K.) Ltd., EC CLEAN by Green Concept Limited, 288 Liquid Biological Multi-function Micro-organism Additive (Pro-Digest) by Champion Chemicals Limited, verifying that these products are recognised as safe and environmentally friendly.

Business Benefits Of Carbon Neutral Labelling

Manufacturers, distributors, and marketers selling certified environmentally sustainable products enjoy significant benefits from reducing their carbon footprint and contributing towards sustainable development goals.

Improved customer perception: a credible and independent ecolabel allows consumers to easily identify and distinguish your products among your competitors, highlighting your commitment to the highest environmental and quality standards.

Effective branding and marketing tool: an ecolabel improves your corporate image, brand recognition and reputation, demonstrates your social responsibility, confirms the product’s safety and superior environmental performance, giving your brand a strong competitive advantage.

Reduced production cost: commitment to improving environmental performance during manufacturing typically leads to significant financial savings resulting from more efficient resource use, waste minimisation, material recycling, reduced risks, and legal compliance.

Sustainable procurement: greening the production process and establishing a sustainable supply chain uncovers new opportunities for business expansion and partnership with governments, commercial organisations, and industry associations. 

Industry Leaders In Sustainability

The household goods industry is experiencing an increasing demand for eco-friendly products and smart home solutions. Successful companies strive to stand out through smart brand management, sustainable innovation, improved product quality, and environmental safety. Leading companies proactively implement sustainable business models focusing on climate stewardship, operational eco-efficiency, sustainable material sourcing, enhanced transparency, environmental certifications and product labelling, as well as implementing end-of-life solutions for waste management.

In 2018, Electrolux AB and Essity AB have become the global sustainability leaders in the Household Products and Durables category of the RobecoSAM’s Corporate Sustainability Assessment based on their Total Sustainability Score. The Assessment identifies companies that create the most long-term sustainable shareholder value, evaluating crucial factors that impact a company’s value drivers, competitive position, and long-term financial performance, such as capabilities for innovation, environmental management, product stewardship in social dimension, and operational eco-efficiency improvements.

How To Make Your Business Carbon Neutral 

Adopting a carbon neutral business strategy will send a powerful message to your customers, investors, employees, and other stakeholders about your commitment to environmental protection and industry best practices.

Start by introducing a carbon management strategy with clear measurable goals and action plans to assess, reduce, avoid, or compensate your GHG emissions. This involves calculating and tracking the total carbon footprint from your business activities, implementing a cost-effective carbon reduction program, conducting ongoing monitoring and evaluation of your environmental performance, and obtaining environmental product labels and certifications. You will also need to educate your managers and employees about sustainable business practices, and incorporate sustainability aspects into your marketing and communications strategy to promote your environmental achievements.

To learn more about the implementation of environmental regulations and best practices in the household goods industry, please see our sustainability section.

Expert Sustainability Services

API is a leading specialist in quality assurance for household goods with profound knowledge of sustainable manufacturing processes and a rich practical experience in environmental management and certification preparation. Our sustainability experts and specialists in household goods can help you develop and implement carbon reduction strategies, ensure legal compliance with environmental legislation, obtain recognised certifications, and implement long-term carbon management strategies.

We provide a comprehensive range of sustainability services focused on the evaluation of manufacturing processes, product life cycle assessment and carbon footprint calculation, independent verification and validation for environmental certification, sustainable supply chain management, and professional environmental training.

Contact us any time to discuss your business challenges and find the best solutions for your sustainable growth.


Sustainable Practices For Manufacturing Hard Goods

Implementing sustainable business strategies is getting increasingly popular in the manufacturing industry as more prominent international and local industry players of all sizes acknowledge the long-term value of sustainable management for business growth and resilience.

Sustainable manufacturing starts with building a sustainability team for effective collaboration between managers, material experts, process engineers, product designers, production, procurement specialists, and environmental, health, and safety officers.

Engaging representatives from every department helps organizations to evaluate all the key sustainability aspects of the manufacturing process and understand how to work more effectively to save resources, time, and money.

Sustainable manufacturing has a lot to offer:

  • Integrating sustainability across business functions improves production processes and profitability
  • Using innovation, scenario planning, and strategic analysis reduces environmental, health, and safety risks and associated financial losses
  • Improving environmental performance helps ensure compliance with increasingly stringent regulatory constraints
  • Optimizing operational efficiencies reduces resource costs and industrial waste from production
  • Introducing stakeholder engagement policies helps train and retain qualified employees, builds long-term business viability and resilience
  • Strengthening brand reputation and public trust with a visible commitment to sustainability enhances sales and competitiveness on the market attracting new customers, partners, and investors.

Sustainable/Recycled Raw Materials

Choosing sustainable raw or recycled materials improves the resource efficiency and safety of the manufacturing, prevents eco-toxicity, extends the lifespan of many instruments and equipment, minimizing the risks and need for repairs.

Recycling materials preserves their embodied energy, so the amount of energy required for the recycling process is usually far less than the energy used for the primary production. The largest energy savings can be achieved by recycling metals and thus avoiding the energy-intensive mining and processing of ore. For example, recycling aluminium from scrap uses 88-95% less energy than primary aluminium production, secondary copper results in 15-65% energy savings. Lead can be effectively recycled multiple times without losing its properties with 60-75% energy savings compared to the primary lead production. Energy savings from recycling iron and steel can be up to 72%, beryllium recycling saves 80%, and 50% for recycling cadmium. An estimated 40% of the nickel used in the production of stainless steel comes from post-consumer stainless steel scrap resulting in 90% energy savings for the secondary nickel production. However, when it comes to recycling paper, although the secondary production requires 40% less energy than the primary production, more fossil fuels can actually be required for paper recycling.

Smart solutions like using antimicrobial copper alloys to protect solid surfaces from microbial contamination instead of using enhanced chemical cleaning protocols can prevent the spread of bacterial infections and reduce human exposure to toxic substances from the cleaning products. The EPA has registered 500 copper alloys including brass and bronze as capable of killing 99.9% of disease-causing, potentially deadly bacteria within two hours even after recontamination.

ECO Design

Sustainable product design strategies allow manufacturers to evaluate and address the environmental impacts throughout the entire life cycle of the product, optimize resource consumption, minimize energy use and waste during production and transportation of the products.

Incorporating sustainability considerations into product development ensures the long-term availability of materials and resources, helps achieve compliance with product quality and safety regulations, and avoid using harmful materials that can be restricted in some countries or highly likely to be banned in the future. Material choices and product design should incorporate the recycling capability and publish the specifications in their product declarations.

Sustainable Packaging 

Sustainable packaging logistics help develop integrated packaging, product, and supply chain systems to ensure safe, efficient, and effective handling, transportation, distribution, storage, retail, use, reuse, recovery, and disposal of goods, minimizing the negative environmental impacts and risks, while maximizing the social and consumer value, sales, and profits. For example, replacing wasteful single-use containers, plastic, Styrofoam, cardboard, and pallets with reusable, recycled, and recyclable packaging like collapsible bulk boxes helps optimize the shipping, storage, and handling of hard goods.

The Sustainable Packaging Coalition defines the following criteria for sustainable packaging:

  • Designed to optimize the material and energy use
  • Sourced, manufactured, transported, and recycled using clean production technologies and best practices, renewable energy sources
  • Maximum use of renewable and recycled materials
  • Satisfying the market demand for performance and cost.
  • Healthy, safe, and beneficial for individuals and communities throughout the entire life cycle and in all probable end of life scenarios
  • Effectively recovered and utilized in biological and/or industrial cradle to cradle cycles.

Analysis of sustainable packaging logistics strategies shows that an upfront investment in sustainability actually accelerates the economic growth and profitability due to significant savings from multiple reuses, easier handling, less labor for assembling boxes and crates, smaller floor space use during storage and shipping, and reduced packaging costs per piece. Sustainable packaging gives a strategic competitive advantage to manufacturers, as it shows their commitment to implement the best industry practices, improves public trust, and strengthens their brand reputation.

Recycling Programs

Manufacturers are the primary consumers of recycled materials obtained from end-of-life products and industrial scrap, and they can also contribute to closed-loop material recycling. Incorporating waste recovery and recycling in-house as part of the manufacturing process or supplying scrap materials from production to other companies for recycling can reduce your company’s waste and associated costs. Utilizing scrap processing solutions and including post-consumer recycled materials like metal, plastic, paper, glass, rubber, electronics, or textiles as part of your manufacturing process can bring significant savings of energy, raw materials, and reduction in emissions from production.   

It is important to remember that recycling is not the ultimate sustainable solution as it also consumes energy and water contributing to resource depletion and pollution. An efficient recycling program for manufacturing requires a detailed analysis of the environmental footprint including energy use at each phase of the recycling processes to determine the most sustainable recycling routes. To optimize the recycling processes, manufacturers must carefully develop their sustainable recycling strategies and the supporting structures, systems, performance goals, key performance indicators, measurements, and performance monitoring protocols.

Sustainable Factories

Incorporating diverse business intelligence tools, specialized sustainability software, artificial intelligence, and the Internet of Things (IoT) into your factory operations can help you predict, model, plan, monitor, and evaluate the efficiency of factory operations, adapt manufacturing workflows, conduct preventative maintenance, coordinate, and implement robust environmental, health, safety, and quality control systems to ensure continual performance improvement. The International Organization for Standardization has just released a new voluntary standard ISO/IEC 30141, Internet of Things (IoT)Reference architecture that provides a framework with reusable designs and industry best practices that can help establish reliable, safe, secure systems for smart, sustainable manufacturing by gathering the key performance data, protecting the privacy, and preventing disruptions from cyber attacks and natural disasters

Sustainable Energy

The carbon footprint from manufacturing operations can be reduced through various energy-efficient solutions, and not all of them require much capital investment. The International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) estimates that renewables could reach up to 27% of the total manufacturing energy consumption by 2030 with the availability of affordable sustainable, biomass sources, and can further grow up to 34% due to carbon emissions trading. IRENA’s analysis shows that energy efficiency and renewable energy production are the most cost-effective methods for reducing the energy-related industrial CO2 emissions, but to achieve the climate objectives of the Paris Agreement renewables deployment must accelerate six times faster than today.

Investing in green energy production systems to support the manufacturing process like using biomethane obtained from renewable resources instead of the natural gas can make manufacturing self-sufficient and carbon-neutral. Rethinking the lighting positions, schedule, and intensity of lights to target work areas more effectively helps avoid wasting energy, reduce electricity bills, and improve the working conditions for employees.

Hazardous Waste

Manufacturing waste often contains elements classified as hazardous, which may accumulate in production areas that are difficult to access, posing health and safety risks to employees. Using non-toxic materials for production, finding sustainable alternatives to traditional chemical solutions, and extending the life cycle of the chemistry, can significantly reduce the quantity of waste production, prevent employee exposure to toxic solvents and fumes, reduce costs for hazardous material disposal, and ease the environmental regulatory burden on the company.

API Sustainability Services

Our team unites experts in sustainable manufacturing practices with extensive experience in environmental management, material assessment, and recycling.

API Recycling Verification Services will help verify and validate the authenticity of your recycled products, processes, and raw material sources.

Supply chain traceability and verification

  • Tracking your products back to the source and authenticating the raw material sources.
  • Assessment and validation of the percentage of post-consumer recycled content, post-industrial recycled content or total recycled content contained in a product

Recycled product footprint – calculating the sustainability impacts of your recycled products

Recycled content preparation and validation – consulting service to help you ensure a recycled product has the right percentage of recycled content

Contact us today to receive a professional consultation on introducing effective sustainability strategies, incorporating recycling programs into your manufacturing process, developing supporting protocols, systems, performance goals, indicators, measurements, and more.

For more information about sustainability in manufacturing, click here.

All data is quoted from and belongs to published literature. API does not hold any responsibility for the accuracy, timeliness or validity of any data or information.