Application of eco-design and life cycle assessment standards for environmental impact reduction of an industrial product

Lead author: Alberto Navajas       Year: 2017       Methodology: Case study

ISO R&I Team Summary

This paper applies the ISO14006's eco-design methodology to analyse how it can help reduce the environmental impacts of an industrial product in Spain using LCA (Life Cycle Assessment) as a tool for product assessment. This step by step application of the ISO standard is aimed as a guide to industries of a successful environmental impact reduction through standard application. It allowed them to identify which stage or process of the product development and components had the highest impacts and potential alternatives to reduce impacts. Authors suggest that integrating eco-design into product development can offer several advantages including economic benefits, public image improvement and innovation. ISO14006 being an Environmental Management System and guidelines for incorporating eco-design, it plays an important role with regards to ensuring the success of companies environmental impact reduction and anticipate future regulations.

Publication Abstract

Eco-design is included within the framework of the standard for “Environmental management systems—Guidelines for incorporating Eco-design” (ISO 14006:2011). Eco-design process, as defined in standard, has six steps: (i) Specify product functions; (ii) Environmental assessment of products; (iii) Strategies of improvement; (iv) Environmental objectives; (v) Product specification; and (vi) Technical solutions. Step (ii), determination of the stage or process of the product life cycle that has the highest environmental impact; this is perhaps the most controversial step because the standard does not specify which tool should be used. This lack of specification has generated some distrust with regard to eco-design, hindering its development. In order to make a trustworthy eco-design, Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) should be applied as a tool for environmental impact quantification. The main objective of this work is to apply standardised eco-design methodology for the reduction of the environmental impact of an industrial product in Spain using LCA as a tool for the environmental product assessment. LCA standardised process (ISO 14040,14044:2006) is included in the eco-design process. A glass container intended for cough syrup delivery has been selected as an industrial product to be eco-designed. Following the methodology described, the overall normalised impact decreased 35.1% when a PET container substituted a glass container. Environmental impacts have been reduced following standardised eco-design and LCA methodologies, serving as an example to industry and administration regarding how to eco-design with the confidence of obtaining reliable results.

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  • Publication type:

    • Journal article
  • Other authors:

    • Alberto Navajas
    • Leire Uriarte
    • Luis Gandía
  • Countries:

    • Spain