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MPhil in Engineering for Sustainable Development

global challenges, engineering solutions

Studying at Cambridge

 

Andy Pfeil

Identifying drivers and leverage points for sustainable development in the power tools industry – a case study of Bosch Lawn & Garden Ltd.

Mass production of consumer goods is one of the most important enablers of a modern, comfortable lifestyle. However, the accelerated production of ever more stuff does not happen in a vacuum but has in fact very real consequences for people and the planet. Manufacturers of consumer goods are increasingly starting to recognize their responsibility to ensure not only their business’ profitability but also the well-being of their employees and the stability of the ecological systems they operate in.

This thesis assesses actions that power tool manufacturers can take in order to make their products and production systems more sustainable. In particular, this research uses the business of Bosch Lawn & Garden Ltd. as a case study. The Stowmarket based manufacturer is part of the Power Tools Division of the Bosch Group and produces a wide range of either corded or battery powered gardening tools.

The analysis specifically focusses on the ecological footprint of certain products, using eco-audits to assess the emissions and energy associated with producing, using and discarding a tool. Furthermore, qualitative interviews were conducted to identify the social, environmental and economic value that is being created throughout the lifetime of a product as well as to highlight areas where value is currently not captured adequately or even destroyed.

The study goes on to suggest measures to improve on the current performance of Bosch Lawn & Garden Ltd. and ranks those measures according to their impact and ease of implementation. Ultimately, this thesis adopts a strategic framework that helps power tools manufacturers to develop a more holistic view of their organisations’ impact. In a wider sense, the results and implications of this dissertation could also be translated and applied to other product categories, such as household appliances or automotive components.