Downstream Value Chain

The downstream part of your value chain looks more closely at the customers, consumers, re-users and recyclers.

Your downstream value chain is generally classified as what happens once a product or service has left your door. While economic responsibility usually ends at this point, in the eyes of stakeholders, the social and environmental responsibility of your business may not.

There are risks and opportunities at any stage of a product's or service's life cycle. For issues that arise downstream, the solutions often need to be enacted upstream.

Example of a manufacturer's downstream value chain

Downstream value chain

For example, Proctor & Gamble, which makes things like personal care and household cleaning products, recognised most of the energy in its value chain occurred when hot water was used by the consumer (part of their downstream value chain). As a result, it developed eco-efficient cold water alternatives and effectively changed its product design (upstream). (View case study – page 24).

Some of the key ways you could manage your downstream value chain include: product stewardship, designing for disassembly, certification and eco-labelling, and being aware of how to avoid greenwash.

  Product Stewardship

Product stewardship is about taking responsibility for the environmental effects of a manufactured product, and aiming to reduce the impact at relevant stages in its value chain.

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  Designing for Disassembly

Designing and manufacturing products that are easy to disassemble will mean they are easier to service, upgrade and reuse or recycle.

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  Certification & Eco-labelling

Helping consumers make informed decisions through education, product certifications, and information on how to recycle and reuse.

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  Avoiding Greenwash

Greenwashing is when businesses or organisations make false, misleading or deceptive claims about their social and environmental practices or the attributes of their products.

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