Electronics goes green 2000+ conference, Berlin 11-13 september 2000.

Green development within product families
Torben Lenau, Ole Willum, Niels Frees, Stig Irving Olsen

From 1991 to 1996 the EDIP-methodology (Environmental Design of Industrial Products) was developed. One experience from the EDIP-project is that environmental assessment of products must give simple and operational conclusions, which can be acknowledged in the product development and by other decision makers throughout the product life cycle. The EDIP-project has demonstrated that it is possible to identify "the ten most important environmental hot spots". The documentation achieved by the environmental assessment shows where the most serious environmental impacts in the product life cycle occur, and uncover where the improvement potentials are in the product. The environmental knowledge obtained in this context will be valid for a number of years, and both the producer and other interested parties can use this information for setting priorities in their future plan-ning. However, it can be very time consuming to perform an environmental Life Cycle Assessment (LCA), and it would be an advantage if a number of similar products - product families - could be handled in one and the same LCA as a whole.

The project has presently developed a method for selecting and forming product families, based on environ-mental and economical importance as well as the existence of several producers. Using this method, five families have been selected, namely mobile phones, vacuum cleaners, industrial valves with electronic controls, lighting and ventilation. Collaboration with 5 industrial companies has subsequently been established and environmental assessments (LCA) including diagnosis (the pointing out of hot spots) have been performed.

Keywords: Product families, Lifecycle assessment, LCA, Product development