Ecodesign is an approach to design of a product with special consideration for the environmental impacts of the product during its whole lifecycle. In a life cycle assessment the life cycle of a product is usually divided into procurement, manufacture, use and disposal.
As the whole product life cycle should be regarded in an integrated perspective, representatives from advance development, design, production, marketing, purchasing and project management should work together on the ecodesign of a further developed or new product as they have together the best chance to predict the holistic effects of changes of the product and their environmental impact. Environmental aspects which ought to be analysed for every stage of the life cycle are:
- Consumption of resources (energy, materials, water or land area)
- Emissions to air, water, and the ground (our Earth) as being relevant for the environment and human health
- Miscellaneous (e.g. noise and vibration)
Waste (hazardous waste and other waste defined in environmental legislation) is only an intermediate step and the final emissions to the environment (e.g. methane and leaching from landfills are inventoried). Equally are all consumables, materials and parts used in the life cycle phases accounted and all indirect environmental aspects linked to their production.
Having made up a list on which phase of the life cycle has which particular environmental aspect, these aspects are evaluated according to their environmental impact on the basis of a number parameters such as extend of environmental impact potential for improvement or potential of change.
According to this ranking the recommended changes are carried out and are reviewed after a certain time.
Environmental Effect Analysis
One instrument to identify the factors that are important for the reduction of the environmental impact during all lifecycle stages is the Environmental Effect Analysis (EEA).
For an EEA the following are taken into account:
- Customers wishes
- Legal requirements, market requirements (competitors) and
- Data concerning the product and the manufacturing process