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Product orientation of environmental work - barriers & incentives
KTH, School of Industrial Engineering and Management (ITM), Machine Design (Dept.), Machine Design (Div.).
2009 (English)Licentiate thesis, comprehensive summary (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

Abstract

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.
Series
Trita-MMK, ISSN 1400-1179 ; 2009:9
Keyword [en]
Life cycle assessment, LCA, environmental management systems, EMS environmental product declaration, EPD, ecodesign
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:kth:diva-10585ISBN: 978-91-7415-319-4 (print)OAI: oai:DiVA.org:kth-10585DiVA: diva2:219837
Presentation
2009-05-20, Styrelserummet, Maskinkonstruktion, KTH, Brinellvägen 83, Stockholm, 10:00 (English)
Opponent
Supervisors
Available from: 2009-05-28 Created: 2009-05-28 Last updated: 2010-11-03Bibliographically approved
List of papers
1. Environmental Management Systems – Paper tiger or powerful tool
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Environmental Management Systems – Paper tiger or powerful tool
2000 (English)In: Conference Proceedings of the 2000 Eco-Management and Auditing Conference, 2000, 81-92 p.Conference paper, Published paper (Refereed)
National Category
Engineering and Technology
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:kth:diva-25883 (URN)
Conference
2000 Eco-Management and Auditing Conference. June 2000. University of Manchester. UK
Note
QC 20101103Available from: 2010-11-03 Created: 2010-11-03 Last updated: 2010-11-03Bibliographically approved
2. Environmental aspects when manufacturing products mainly out of metals and/or polymers
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Environmental aspects when manufacturing products mainly out of metals and/or polymers
2005 (English)In: Journal of Cleaner Production, ISSN 0959-6526, E-ISSN 1879-1786, Vol. 13, no 1, 43-49 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

The most fundamental aspect in the ISO 14001 standard Environmental management systems - Specification with guidance for use is to find out ways by which an organisation influences environment to a significant degree. This paper examines environmental data from companies manufacturing products mainly from metals and/or polymers. The data were collected in a uniform way by use of special guidelines. Weighting or valuation methods often used in life cycle assessments were used to quantitatively compare and rank environmental aspects. The study results suggest that, in general, the largest environmental impact in the investigated manufacturing sub-sector can be associated with product use and/or disposal phases. This in turn shows a need for more attention on environmental work on the design for environment than what the ISO 14001 standard requires. It is further suggested that weighting or valuation methods can aid in determining the significance of environmental impacts and aspects in the context of ISO 14001.

Keyword
environmental management systems, life cycle assessment, design for environment, weighting, valuation
National Category
Engineering and Technology
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:kth:diva-25879 (URN)10.1016/j.jclepro.2003.09.014 (DOI)000224260300004 ()
Note
QC 20101103Available from: 2010-11-03 Created: 2010-11-03 Last updated: 2017-12-12Bibliographically approved
3. Stepwise environmental product declarations: ten SME case studies
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Stepwise environmental product declarations: ten SME case studies
2008 (English)In: Journal of Cleaner Production, ISSN 0959-6526, E-ISSN 1879-1786, Vol. 16, no 17, 1872-1886 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

The lack of reliable communication tools is anticipated to become an important barrier to design and sell products with improved environmental performance. In this paper, environmental product declarations. EPDs, and in particular a Stepwise EPD approach is investigated as a means to overcome the communication barrier. The experiences of ten European SMEs who have tried to use Stepwise EPDs for market communication and as a basis for eco-design are described and discussed. The experiences suggest that Stepwise EPDs based oil life cycle assessment can be a cost-efficient tool to improve the environmental performance of products. For normal marketing activities the Stepwise EPDs were disappointing. Using the underlying LCA as a platform for in-depth communication with selected parties in the supply chain showed more promise.

Keyword
Environmental product declaration, EPD, Environmental communication, Eco-design, Environmental management, Life cycle assessment, Integrated product policy, Product information, ISO 14025, Product development
National Category
Engineering and Technology
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:kth:diva-25882 (URN)10.1016/j.jclepro.2008.01.001 (DOI)000260197100006 ()
Note
QC 20101103Available from: 2010-11-03 Created: 2010-11-03 Last updated: 2017-12-12Bibliographically approved

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