Believe it or not, that's exactly what Catherine Greener suggests in her recent Sustainable Brands article in which she explores the connection between Total Quality Management (TQM) and Sustainability.
In the article, Greener examines the similarity between the progress of the Sustainability movement and the evolution of the Total Quality Movement. Both were not easily understood at the outset…both were centered around concepts that are hard to define… and as a result of customer demand, both eventually required compliance with standards (like ISO 9000) to “help mold the appropriate level of company response.”
Additionally, Greener points out that there are many sustainable products that easily meet the eight definitions of Quality outlined in David Garvin’s 1987 Harvard Business Review article (Performance, Features, Reliability, Conformance, Durability, Serviceability, Aesthetics and Perception.) Think LED light bulbs, hybrid vehicles, reusable shopping bags or refillable white board markers, just to name a few.
Greener also explores a foundation of TQM called Zero-Defects (essentially striving to eliminate all the defects in a system) and begs the question, shouldn’t waste, in all its forms, be regarded as defects?
Or, put another way, “can a product that is un-sustainable be a quality product”?
In examining our projects here at TEQ, virtually all have a core sustainability focus. Take our development of TEQethylene™ – a monopolymer, 100% recyclable, medical packaging solution that utilizes a high-performance, proprietary blend of High Density Polyethylene (HDPE) in combination with a breathable HDPE thermoplastic lidding material (TYVEK® by DuPont™).
What about you? Do you agree or disagree with Greener's concept? Do you have examples of when sustainability and quality efforts are one in the same?