RAND > ISE > Projects & Resources > Our Future, Our Environment > Manufacturing Anywhere

Environmental policies in the manufacturing sector have traditionally focused on the end-of-pipe byproducts and emissions from the production of large factories. These policies have brought dramatic improvements in air and water quality during the past 25 years, but may offer marginal returns for the future.

Recently, the products of production have themselves become the focus of environmental policy leading to approaches (particularly in Europe) calling for manufacturers to take responsibility for products across their entire life cycle.

But all these policies depend upon fairly large, stable and centralized manufacturing businesses. The future of manufacturing promises to be more fluid and diffused. With new approaches to production and powerful networking technology, manufacturing is becoming increasingly dispersed across companies in the supply chain, and this pattern is occurring both domestically and globally.

What will be the impact of the diffusion of manufacturing on the environment? Where will the new environmental leverage points be in a world of manufacturing anywhere?

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