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Green Engineering

Extended Product Responsibility

A quiet movement has been underway for many years that seeks to challenge the traditional seller-buyer relationship. The theory, often referred to as "servicizing" involves a shift in the basic business model from one of selling products, to the selling of product-based services. In this decoupling of ownership from product use, the manufacturer maintains responsibility of the product during its lifecycle in an arrangement similar to a lease. The goal of "Extended Product Responsibility" (EPR) ultimately involves the proper disposal of materials at the end of the product’s lifecycle.

The hope of EPR is to minimize the overall impact of consumerism on the environment. While we believe this is a noble cause, case studies of real world successes are currently few and far between. Any practical application of EPR would place its burdens squarely on the manufacturer and would involve considerable complexity as well as investment. In addition, there remain valid concerns about government’s role and the economical consequences of enforcing such a program.

In a May 1999 study submitted to the EPA’s Office of Solid Waste, entitled Servicizing: The Quiet Transition to Extended Product Responsibility, the Tellus institute reported:

"Servicizing has the potential to create situations, in which …economic incentives to EPR arise,,, {but this] simple picture of "economic stimulus and firm response" is considerably more complicated in the real world."

What Can Work Now

In the decade that has passed since that study, there has not been an abundance of EPR success stories. Still, wherever it’s possible to achieve environmental gains, we must remain open to ideas. The question is- what can we do today?

One fact is clear: If we extend the duty cycles of products used in transportation, the result over time is a reduction in both virgin material extraction and the subsequent waste going into landfills. The Mirror Lite Company has lead the way with an engineering approach that helps address the issues of both local budgets and global ecology.

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Our approach is twofold:

1. Create high quality, durable products using materials and manufacturing methods which allow for the longest service cycle possible.

2. Engineer those products for sustainable performance using component-level serviceability, meaning that ease-of-maintenance and small component replacement is built into the product at every possible level.

At that point a proven infrastructure exists to manage the asset: Directors, mechanics and drivers are capable professionals working where the rubber meets the road.

Conserve Your Budget

This model produces benefits for the customer first, because longer service cycles mean less cost to the user over time. If a mirror assembly remains in service for the complete duty cycle of the bus, it will save both the time spent to replace the system and the money spent on the new hardware. If a lens component of the mirror housing happens to get damaged, the replacement lens tray can be safely installed in minutes without removing the whole mirror head and at very little cost. The assembly remains in service as does the bus.

Conserve the Environment

With the extended service life of Mirror Lite Mirrors, the environmental impact of extracting virgin materials to create a replacement mirror housing / assembly has been postponed or eliminated. During the course of the product's service life, any repairs or upgrades should only require smaller, more lightweight component replacements (eg. a lens tray insert). For the backend of the life cycle, there will be less mirror housings sent to the landfill than with the glued-together, non-serviceable mirror products currently on the market. So with Mirror Lite’s Component Level Engineering model, environmental gains are realized at the front end, during, and on the backend of the duty cycle.

When we consider the life cycle of products we use on vehicles, specifying truly serviceable systems for your fleet may eventually do as much for the environment as it does for your budget.

Other Mirror Lite Advantages:

Voices in the Field

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