March 28, 2013

A Sustainable Approach for Sustainable Development

White paper


The implementation of a sustainable development policy, with  ecodesign (*) as its cornerstone,  requires: a clear vision of our company’s objectives and our customers’ expectations; a well-defined organization and list of responsibilities; and finally, rigorous continuity with a focus on products and the processes. For a decade or so, ecological concerns have started to be incorporated into more constraining regulations for manufacturers. These texts – RoHS, EEEW, REACH, ErP... -, often of European genesis, have acted as catalysts in numerous companies..


The technological and regulatory dimensions are important to ecodesign approaches. But if many themes still relate to complex engineering, even R&D, the carriers of these projects fortunately have a technical base at their disposal, in addition to a regulatory corpus, which enables them quickly identigy the priorities, the stages and a timetable.


The key to the success of a sustainable development approach resides above all in effective communication control. Technical communication with the partners for a shared contribution to the improvement of the products. Communication to customers in order to promote the ecodesign-related products and to convey a responsible company image, respectful of environmental issues. And of course, internal communications, in order to have a lasting influence on the employee behaviour,  and to incite initiatives on their part.


For Neopost, this human and technical adventure started in 2006. Throughout this period, the energy and the conviction of the project’s first players accelerated the awareness-raising and the mobilisation of the whole of the company, up to its most senior level. This support has proved to be essential for accepting the ecodesign challenge, and for convincing people of the cogency of the approach - both the company’s 6,200 employees and the customers of its 800,000 postage machines and other mail solutions.

With hindsight, and thanks to some highly tangible achievements - new franking machines of the IS range, a remanufacturing branch, etc - Neopost can testify to the effectiveness of the ecodesign approaches. This is the vocation of this White Paper, with its somewhat schoolmasterly tone, which we hope will be able to help other companies to approach this 21st-century challenge with total confidence.

(*) Ecodesign: a product design methodology that attempts to limit, for the environment, the effects of its manufacturing, its transport, its use, and its end-of-life through its recycling or its remaking (remanufacturing). In the case of a mail solutions manufacturer such as Neopost, these effects relate mainly to energy consumption, the use of certain substances, and the production of electric and electronic equipment waste.


An Ambition Deployed and Disseminated Long Term

The ecodesign approach is an integral part of Neopost’s CSR strategy (Corporate Social Responsibility), which has been deployed since 2004. Its major stages first gained ISO 14001 certification for the majority of the Group’s entities in 2005, then OHSAS 18001 certification in 2007. Today, all the new business franking or inserting machines are benefiting from this ecodesign approach, with spectacular results in terms of their environmental performance. Some best practice guides and an external and internal communication policy helps to disseminate the messages effectively, to customers and employees alike.

Ecodesign, a Progressive Approach for Development on Several Fronts

Neopost has been able to structure its ecodesign approach through its technology and regulation watch, its industrial research projects and partnerships, and its adoption at a very early stage, of a systemic vision of its products’ lifecycles. The company has given itself a strategy and some methods, tools and processes that have enabled it to achieve some very encouraging results concerning the environmental effect of its new generations of mail products. Today, its entire ecodesign approach can be used as a basis for other organizations wishing to “recycle” their output.

Getting Organized for Sustainable Development

A company’s primary objective in terms of sustainable development is to perpetuate its activity. Behind this seemingly self-evident truth lies three major objectives. Firstly, to adapt the CSR strategy to the organization in place, rather than instinctively to call it into question.  Then, to afford sustainable development its legitimate place in the company’s strategy and organization. Finally to communicate properly, especially within a decentralized group like Neopost, to maximize the collective results and to respect each individual company’s initiatives.

Next Steps

The first years of Neopost’s ecodesign approach, and beyond that, its CSR approach, can be assessed with satisfaction. But what about the future? From an overall point of view, how can environmental indicators as a measurement of global warming be made to evolve? What is to be expected from the regulations, and from the behaviour and expectations of customers, employees and the general public? The unknowns are numerous and will impact business strategies. The only certainty: this development is not a phenomenon of fashion but one of our society’s major and lasting trends …