Product orientation of environmental work - barriers & incentives
2009 (English)Licentiate thesis, comprehensive summary (Other academic)
The research behind this licentiate is spread out over a decade of intensive development of environmental work in industry. A 1998 survey of Swedish companies with newly installed environmental management systems (EMS) concluded that such systems need more product-orientation. Data collected by companies as part of the process of creating their EMS between 1996-2001 offered further evidence that it is environmentally justified to seek improvements in the materials selection, use and disposal phases of products, i.e., to make the environmental improvement work more product-orientated. In a EU-funded project carried out between 2004-2006 it was demonstrated that developing an environmental product declaration could be a cost-effective product-oriented environmental action even for smaller companies.
This licentiate thesis relates to methods for companies to orientate their environmental work on their products. In particular, it examines experience and provides insights on the possibilities for companies, including small ones, to use life cycle assessment in product development in order to design products with an environmental performance well above legal compliance.
It is difficult to give general recommendations to companies about their environmental work because each company has its own unique business idea, customers, work culture, stakeholders etc. Nevertheless, the main findings of the licentiate thesis can be summed up in the following recommendations for, say, a small company in Europe without much previous experience of environmental work:
§ Focus your environmental work on your products because you will accomplish more environmentally and the chance of profiting economically will motivate your personnel;
§ Consider doing a life cycle assessment, LCA, on a strategically chosen product in order to learn more about your products and how to improve their environmental performance;
§ Do not expect to find a general market demand for green products; start a dialogue with your best customers in order to create the demand;
§ Engage an LCA specialist to do the LCA and work together with your personnel to interpret the results and generate improvement ideas;
§ If your customers demand that you install an environmental management system, ask them if they would not prefer to receive an environmental product declaration on the particular product they are interested in, and a chance to discuss how its environmental performance can be improved.
Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Stockholm: KTH , 2009. , 50 p.
Trita-MMK, ISSN 1400-1179 ; 2009:9
Life cycle assessment, LCA, environmental management systems, EMS environmental product declaration, EPD, ecodesign
IdentifiersURN: urn:nbn:se:kth:diva-10585ISBN: 978-91-7415-319-4OAI: oai:DiVA.org:kth-10585DiVA: diva2:219837
2009-05-20, Styrelserummet, Maskinkonstruktion, KTH, Brinellvägen 83, Stockholm, 10:00 (English)
Finnveden, Göran, Professor
Norell Bergendahl, Margareta, Professor
List of papers