By investing in material efficiency, your company can reduce the consumption of raw materials and natural resources, and enhance its productivity and competitiveness. At the same time, it becomes easier to apply the Design for the Environment criteria. You can use life-cycle assessment in your product design. If your company designs energy-consuming products, make sure that you comply with the ecodesign legislation.
Material efficiency means that your company produces competitive goods or services and that the consumption of materials, raw materials and natural resources during their life cycle is minimised.
When your company invests in material efficiency, it needs to spend less on materials procurement than before. At the same time, your company can improve its productivity and become more competitive. Moreover, your company will generate less waste and pay less for waste management.
Boosting material efficiency is also an image factor for your company because you can cut the consumption of non-renewable natural resources and reduce harmful environmental impacts. Your company is also better placed to comply with stricter permit regulations and other obligations imposed by the authorities.
You can order a material-efficiency audit for your company. In a material efficiency audit, an external expert systematically assesses the way in which materials are used in your company. You are also provided with concrete proposals on how to improve your material efficiency.
In Design for the Environment, your company puts emphasis on environmental aspects already in the product or service design stage. The aim is to maximise environmental friendliness throughout the product life cycle. Design for the Environment should be a key priority in your company because most of the emissions generated during the product life cycle are determined during the product design process.
In Design for the Environment, the aim is to maximise material and energy efficiency. Design your products so that they are durable, reparable and recyclable and minimise the use of environmentally harmful substances. Also consider the environmental impacts of the production process, delivery, recycling and final disposal.
While giving high priority to environmental aspects in the design process, you must also consider the functionality, quality and safety of the product.
It might also be a good idea to incorporate the ISO 14062 standard into the Design for the Environment process.
With the life-cycle assessment method, you can determine the environmental impacts generated throughout the life cycle of your company’s products and services. The assessment should include the entire life cycle, from the raw material procurement to final disposal.
Before carrying out a life-cycle assessment, you should first set out clear objectives for the process. After that you can determine your raw material and energy needs, emissions and waste for the whole product life cycle. Put all the information together and review the data to determine how your company could reduce the environmental impacts of its products during their life cycle.
Life-cycle assessment is a useful tool when you compare the environmental impacts of your company’s products, systems and manufacturing stages. You can use the information in product development and marketing. A life-cycle assessment can also make your company eligible for an ecolabel.
You can use the ISO 14040 standards as a tool in the life-cycle assessment process.
Instead of carrying out an extensive life-cycle assessment, you can also perform a simplified assessment, in which specific emissions or stages of life cycle are examined.
Ecodesign sets ecological criteria for the design of energy-consuming products. The aim is to encourage companies to assess their environmental impacts already during the product design stage. Provisions on ecodesign are contained in the ecodesign directive of the European Union and the Finnish ecodesign act and decree.
Ecodesign provisions apply to companies designing energy-consuming products. These include coffee makers, ovens, televisions and air conditioning equipment.
Before you put a product on the market, use reliable measuring methods to check whether the product meets all relevant requirements. Prepare the required technical documentation and the EU declaration of conformity. Add the CE marking and the required product-specific markings on the product.
If your company fails to comply with the ecodesign legislation or the product fails to meet the requirements, you may not put the product on the market. Your company may also have to pay a penalty fee.
The Finnish Safety and Chemicals Agency (Tukes) is responsible for supervising compliance with ecodesign legislation in Finland. Tukes also provides you with information on ecodesign matters.