Analyzing Supply Chain Impacts of Electronics

Identifying 'fairness' in the production chain.

We created a comprehensive framework and approach to track materials and impacts through an electronic product’s supply chain. We used the production of a new energy smart meter as a pilot on which to base the indicators. 

  • Client: Stedin, Ministerie van Infrastructuur en Milieu
  • Date: January 2015
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The challenge

In an era of digitization and growing demand for electronics, we need to re-look how many of our electronics are produced to ensure they are designed without conflict-, critical-, or toxic materials, have supply chains that are safe, healthy, and without labour issues, and are made of materials that can be fully recovered at the end-of-life. In procuring a new generation of smart meters to track consumer and business energy consumption, the Dutch Ministry of Infrastructure and the Environment contracted Metabolic to develop a framework for resource identification along the supply chain, with the goal of making the meter’s production as “fair” as possible.

The challenge
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Our approach

Resource Identification Tools (RITs) for products can increase insights on the design, materials sourcing, manufacture, use, and end-of-life handling of products. We proposed an indicator and data framework for an RIT, meant specifically to apply to smart meters but also intended to be general enough so that it could ultimately be applied to other product types. The impacts of the main supply chains behind each component were documented, and a supply chain “heat map” was created.

Our approach
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The outcome

Our proposed RIT framework included five overarching assessment categories: fairness, circularity, product performance, transparency, and footprint. With the framework, we proposed several approaches for how to begin implementing the tool. This later led to a workshop where we co-created a set of performance goals for the next generations of Fair Meters, and connected the practical steps to achieve these goals to a shared long-term vision for the Fair Meter in a roadmap.

The outcome

Industries Team Lead

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