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EE15.5.02 - Consumers, Regulation and Sustainability 
March 30, 2016   2:00pm - 2:30pm

Today, more than ever, consumers are considering sustainability in their purchasing decisions. Worldwide more than 460 ecolabels are used to identify the sustainable attributes of products within markets. The White House has issued Executive Orders requiring federal agencies to ensure that sustainability is included to federal purchasing criteria. Nearly every state has established procurement procedures that consider sustainability as a purchasing condition. Within this setting, businesses have significant incentives to reexamine their existing production processes and materials use, and incorporate sustainability principles into their business routines. However, in spite of the emerging institutional arrangements, most products are still produced unsustainably. This presentation offers a framework for understanding why, and elaborates on the sorts of change needed to encourage firms to produce more sustainable products and for consumers to purchase them. It emphasizes the opportunity created for materials scientists to innovate as firm/consumer incentives and demands align, and how material scientists can stay ahead of market trends, thus encouraging technology adoption and relevance.

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