Green Purchasing - Lifecycle
The true energy cost of a product includes all the energy required to manufacture, transport, maintain, use and dispose of it. Some of these costs are difficult to establish, but here are some general guidelines:
Manufacturing: According to the U. S. Department of Energy, the production of petroleum products is the most intensive energy-use industry in the United States. Products made from oil (including plastics) or those which require petroleum for their operation therefore have a high energy cost.
Transportation: The packaging of an item and the location of manufacture can affect its transportation energy costs. Look for products which are produced locally, sold in concentrate form or have minimal packaging, and are lightweight.
Usage: The Energy Star program also rates the efficiency of thousands of products, from appliances to home electronics to lighting. This independent, scientific assessment is an excellent tool for determining the cost of product use.
Disposal: Energy costs related to disposal include the operating costs and environmental impact of landfills and incinerators, transportation costs involving collection of recyclable materials and the impact of reprocessing. For ideas about efficient recycling see our "recyclability" page.