How to apply life-cycle thinking and LCA to design products for the circular economy
Ecodesign describes design approaches that expressly address the environmental performance of products (or services) throughout their life-cycle from the very early stages of their conception.
Ecodesign aims to minimise a product's negative environmental impacts and to offer additional value to users by reducing whole-life ownership costs. Furthermore it should also aim at enabling a product to have a new life at the end of its first useful life.
The latest version of the environmental management standard ISO 14001 (ISO 14001:2015) requires organisations to apply life cycle thinking in their environmental management, which implies establishing better controls in the design and development process of products or services and considering each stage of their life cycles.
On 21 October 2009, the EU adopted the Directive 2009/125/EC on ecodesign, which focuses on reducing the energy consumption of products throughout their entire life cycle.
For more information on EU ecodesign and products affected by the EuP Directive, visit the EU ecodesign overview.
The Directive was transposed in the UK in 2010 but may change soon; see current guidance.
Successful ecodesign must integrate "life-cycle thinking" into the design process: potential environmental impacts of the future product/service must be considered in the very early stages of its design.
At EuGeos, we recognise that effectively integrating environmental considerations into the product development process needs to bring together environmental knowledge, R&D management and design activities. With our environmental management and LCA expertise, your design programme will address all three aspects.
Life-cycle assessment (LCA) - sometimes also referred to as life-cycle analysis - studies the environmental aspects and quantifies the potential impacts (positive or negative) of a product (or service) throughout its entire life: from the winning and processing of raw materials, through component production and product manufacture, to use and ultimate disposal. LCA lies at the heart of successful ecodesign.
Qualitative and simplified numerical LCA studies enable product developers and designers to compare the environmental credentials of different designs quickly. Making these comparisons early in the development process is important in exploring 'ecopportunities' before too many design options are closed off.
Supported by our LCA capabilities, together with your team we will identify environmental issues related to your products throughout their life-cycles and assess the best opportunities for improvement - environmental and financial - for your organisations and your customers.
Contact us to discuss ecodesign and/or LCA