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The Journal of
Sustainable Product Design


ISSN 1367–6679
Battery-powered lawn Increased creativity and
mower by Husqvarna innovation are critical
to sustainable solutions
Analysis, page 7
Analysis, page 18 and Interview, page 38


Sketch for a table with a Detail of carpet sweeper, Table made

glass top using Metzzo legs designed by Agim Meta from Metzzo
Gallery, page 41 Analysis, page 28 Gallery, page 40



The Journal of
Sustainable Product Design

5 Editorial
Martin Charter, Joint Editor, The Journal of Sustainable Product Design

7 Systemic shift: sustainable development and ID pedagogy
Stuart Walker, Associate Professor, Faculty of Environmental Design,
The University of Calgary, Canada, and Ralf Nielsen, Assistant Professor,
The University of Southern Louisiana, US
18 Unraveling the environmental product design paradox
H Scott Matthews, Doctoral Student in Economics, Carnegie Mellon, US
and Gregory C Chambers, Corporate Manager of Worldwide Environmental
Health and Safety for Quantum Corporation, US
26 The challenge of ‘product chain’ thinking for product development
and design – the example of electrical and electronic products
Anna Kärnä, Dorctoral Student, Helsinki School of Economics and Business
Administration, Department of Management, Finland and Eva Heiskanen,
Researcher, University of Tampere, Finland
37 Automated disassembly support tool – a knowledge-based
support system for disassembly of television sets
Niall Murtagh, Senior Research Scientist, FA Systems Department, Industrial
Electronics and Systems Laboratory, Mitsubishi Electric Corporation, Japan

46 ‘Greenfreeze’ refrigeration technology and ‘Biopac’ starch-based packaging
48 Ralph Earle III, Director, Alliance for Environmental Innovation, US
Martin Charter, Joint Coordinator, The Centre for Sustainable Design, UK

Case study
51 Renewable energy in portable radios: an environmental
benchmarking study
Professor Ab Stevels, Professor at the Faculty of Industrial Design Engineering,
Delft University of Technology, the Netherlands, and Arjen J. Jansen,
Assistant Professor at the Faculty of Industrial Design Engineering, Delft
University of Technology, the Netherlands

© 1998 The Centre for Sustainable Design. O2 news

All written material, unless otherwise 56 Special feature: O2 New York City (o2nyc)
stated, is the copyright of The Centre Edited by Iris V. van de Graaf, the Netherlands, with contributions from Scott Bolden,
for Sustainable Design, Surrey, UK.
Wendy Brawer, Lewis Korn, Mark Randall, John Seitz, and Alexandra Sticher, US
Views expressed in articles and letters
are those of the contributors, and not 59 Reviews
necessarily those of the publisher.
ISSN 1367–6679 64 Diary of events

Editors Editorial Board Dr Stefano Marzano

Africa Head of Corporate Design,
Martin Charter and Anne Chick,
Gary Owen Philips International (Netherlands)
Joint Coordinators,
The Centre for Sustainable, Design, UK CEO, ResponseAbility Alliance (Zimbabwe) Dr Diana Montgomery
Australasia Head of Environment, Automobile
Articles, Interview, O2 News and
Professor Chris Ryan Association (UK)
Journal marketing: Martin Charter
Director, Centre for Design, Royal Professor Jeremy Myerson
Gallery, Reviews, Diary and
Melbourne Institute for Technology Contemporary Design,
Journal production: Anne Chick
(Australia) De Montfort University (UK)
The Journal of Sustainable Product Design
Europe Jonathan Smales
encourages response from its readers to
Jacqueline Aloisi de Larderel CEO, The Earth Centre (UK)
any of the issues raised in the journal.
Director, Industry and Environment, UNEP
Entries for the Diary of events and material Sam Towle
to be considered for review should all be Head of Environmental Audit,
sent to the Editors at the address below. Hans Peter Becker The Body Shop International Plc (UK)
Managing Director, Wilkhahn (UK) Ltd. (UK)
All articles published in the Analysis Dr Hans van Weenen
section are assessed by an external Professor Eric Billett Director, UNEP Working Group
panel of business professionals, Warden, Brunel University College (UK) on Sustainable Product Design,
consultants and academics. Professor Dr Michael Braungart International Centre, University
Fachhochschule Nordostnierasachen, of Amsterdam (Netherlands)

Subscription rates (Germany) Professor Jan-Olaf Willums

Professor Han Brezet Norwegian School of Management,
The Journal of Sustainable Product Design
Director, Section of Environmental Product Oslo (Norway)
is a quarterly journal appearing in the
months of April, July, October and January Development, Faculty of Industrial Design Dr Jonathan Williams
each year. Subscription rates are £80.00 Engineering, Delft University of Technology Director, Group for Environmental
(paper-based) and £40.00 (online) for one (Netherlands) Manufacturing (UK)
year (four issues). Special subscription Ian Dumelow US
rates for developing countries and Dean, Faculty of Design, Dr Brad Allenby
students are available on application. Surrey Institute of Art & Design (UK) Director, Environmental,
Cheques should be made payable to Professor Dr Guenter Fleischer Health & Safety, AT&T (US)
The Surrey Institute in £ sterling Director, Instit fuer Technischen Professor Patricia Dillon
and sent to: Umweltschutz, Technische Universitat The Gordon Institute, Tufts University, (US)
The Journal of Sustainable Product Design Berlin (Germany)
Ralph Earle III
The Centre for Sustainable Design Peter James Director, The Alliance for Environmental
Faculty of Design Director, Sustainable Business Innovation (US)
The Surrey Institute of Art & Design Centre (UK)
Professor John Ehrenfeld
Falkner Road
Iris van de graaf de Keijser Director, Technology, Business and
Director, Kiva Product Ecology, Environment Program, Massachusetts
Surrey GU9 7DS
(Netherlands) Institute of Technology (US)
tel +44 (0)1252 732229 Professor Karl Lidgren Dr Joseph Fiksel
fax +44 (0)1252 732274 Director, The International Institute for Senior Director, Strategic Environmental,
email: Industrial Environmental Economics, Health & Safety Management, Battelle
internet: Lund University (Sweden) Memorial Institute (US)
Dorothy MacKenzie James Hartzfeld
Director, Dragon (UK) Vice President, Interface Research
Professor Ezio Manzini Corporation (US)
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Unita di ricerca Progetto, Prodotto, Dean, Faculty of Architecture,
Ambiente, Politecnico di Milano (Italy) University of Virginia (US)



Welcome to the fourth issue of

The Journal of Sustainable Product Design
Martin Chartern
Joint Editor, The Journal of Sustainable Product Design

t is essential that business ing on ‘end of life’ management tal effects of products throughout
I starts to incorporate environ-
mental and broader sustainability
(EOLM) rather than eco-design.
In October 1997 a draft discus-
the life cycle.
For eco-design to progress in
thinking at the start of the sion document on the manage-
the electronics sector it must
product development process, ment of ‘end of life’ electrical
be integrated into existing busi-
if we are to move towards and electronic waste was
nesses through re-engineering
increased ‘quality of life’ world- circulated by the European
existing business processes.
wide. If this does not happen Commission for comment
There will need to be a ‘learning
opportunities will be missed. To amongst the European electron-
company’ approach. Companies
enable this will mean developing ics industry. The paper has con-
are likely to make mistakes and
mechanisms to raise awareness siderable implications for the
will need to avoid falling into the
and understanding of issues development and design of prod-
pitfall of the ‘not invented here’
amongst all internal and external ucts, particularly the need to:
syndrome, where new ideas from
stakeholders involved in the · eliminate toxic materials outside the company are not
process. Part of this will mean · increase recyclability recognised or nor absorbed as
increasing education and train-
· increase dismantlability quickly as they should be.
ing, but may also mean re-
· improve reverse logistics. Another key lesson will be a
education, dispelling popular
need to adapt the eco-design
misconceptions. In addition, Companies in the electronics process to company culture
thinking broader than environ- sector have highly complex taking account business function
mental sustainability will mean supply and ‘value chains’. ‘power’ structures eg. is the firm
considering social and ethical Implementing eco-design will financially or marketing-driven?
impacts of the product develop- mean increasing information
ment process. The Brent Spar It is essential to try and involve
requirements from raw material,
issue clearly illustrated that other business functions in the
component and sub-assembly
society does not necessarily eco-design process. For example
suppliers, many of whom are
belief the ‘hard’ science. marketing and sales should
likely to be poorly prepared for
Therefore, ignoring the ‘softer’ participate to ensure that there
the situation. In addition, the
issues maybe costly from a stake- is dialogue and sensitivity to
electronics sector is leading the
holder acceptance viewpoint. customers needs, so opportuni-
way in the implementation of
ties are not missed. As previously
Many of these issues are being the international environmental
mentioned suppliers are a key
highlighted in the electronics management standard ISO14001,
stakeholder in the success of any
sector, which faces increasing which will also push companies
eco-design initiative. Each
pressures under producer respon- to greater understanding of the
element of the ‘value chain’ will
sibility, with most activity focus- direct and indirect environmen-
need to understand eco-goals for



the end product to enable them exploring ‘cut-down’ life cycle illustrating the importance of the
to take action. Education and assessment (LCAs) tools. retailers and the need for reliable
re-education, training and re- information. Niall Murtagh,
The fourth issue of the Journal
training and clear communica- Senior Research Scientist at
of Sustainable Design focuses
tions will be essential elements Mitsubishi Electric Corporation
on papers related to electronic
to increasing stakeholders examines the technical issues
products. Dr Stuart Walker,
environmental awareness eg. surrounding the dismantling of
Associate Professor at the
Electrolux have launched an televisions, providing implica-
University of Calgary and Ralf
eco-literacy programme through tions for
Nielsen, Assistant Professor at
its Intranet aimed initially at product development and design.
the University of Louisiana
employees. An interview with Ralph Earle
explore the need for a systemic
III, Director of the Alliance for
There is a need for a overall shift to move towards sustain-
Environmental Innovation
target for the eco-design ability, with an emphasis on a
focuses on the need to consider
programme and eco-performance movement towards local scale
the ‘decision-making fabric’ of
objectives and metrics for production and consumption.
the company when launching
specific products or services. The article illustrates the product
eco-design, with examples of
A key need is to broaden the design implications of 'product
projects being undertaken with
discussion into eco-product sharing' ie. viewing the portable
Johnson Wax and Starbucks, a
development and design, getting personal computer as part of a
coffee retailer. The Innovation
eco-stimulus and creativity into community-based service rather
section provides a comparison
the idea generation phase. This than a series of single products.
of the environmental impacts of
can produce breakthroughs eg. H. Scott Matthews, a doctoral
four radios, with the conclusion
the solar powered lawnmower student at Carnegie Mellon and
that ‘human powered’ products
and on-going innovation eg. Gregory Chambers, Corporate
are not necessarily greener than
dematerialisation (less energy, Manager of Worldwide
‘battery powered’ products, with
less resources, more functional- Environmental, Health and Safety
much depending on the EOLM
ity) – moving from books on for Quantum Corporation,
disposal option chosen. The O2
paper, to downloadable informa- explore the eco-design implica-
pages focus on the activities of
tion from Internet. tions of various ‘end of life’
the New York City chapter, and
management (EOLM) options,
There is also a need for new highlight an interesting process
using the example of disc drives.
tools in the eco-product devel- that has been developed to
The paper suggests that compa-
opment and design process. For educate designers about
nies are not fully realising the
example, Nortel recently organ- sustainable product design.
cost:benefits of designing for
ised customer eco-focus sessions
improved EOLM. Anna Kärnä, a The Journal looks forward to
and Trucost in New Zealand have
doctoral student at the Helsinki comments and responses to
launched software that examines
School of Economics and Eva articles, and encourages the
ecological costs of products. In
Heiskanen, a Researcher at the submission of papers particularly
addition, to enable improved and
University of Tampere explore on eco-innovation and broader
more time-efficient decision-
different stakeholders attitudes perspectives of sustainable
making companies such as BT, SC
to the greening of ‘product product development and design
Johnson Wax and Philips are
chain’ management, particularly (SPDD). •



Systemic shift: sustainable

development and industrial
design pedagogy
Stuart Walker & Ralf Nielsenn
Associate Professor, Faculty of Environmental Design,
The University of Calgary, Canada
Assistant Professor, The University of Southern Louisiana, US

The precepts of sustainability have pedagogical model for learning.

significant implications for the The project was placed within a
future of product design and sustainable community scenario,
production, and the meanings of developed by urban planners. An
material culture. Considerable work outline of this contextual setting is
is currently being done in the devel- included in order to demonstrate
opment of methodologies, such as how a ‘product’ – in terms of its
life cycle assessment (LCA), in design, its use and its overall
order to evolve conserving and impacts, has to be considered
Dr Stuart Walker is an associate
regenerative systems of production within a broader system which
professor and former director of the
and consumption. However, it is includes ways of living and work-
Industrial Design Programme, in the
also being widely recognised that ing, and notions of independence
Faculty of Environmental Design at
a more fundamental, systemic shift and inter-dependence. An account
The University of Calgary. In his
in our approaches to product of the approach adopted during the
research and design activities he is
design, manufacturing and our product design phase is given
examining the issues surrounding
material expectations will be together with an analysis of the
sustainable product design,
required if sustainability is to be project, and the questions it raises.
with particular emphasis
fully embraced. This is followed by a discussion of
on product aesthetics.
In this discussion, the nature of this the potential of this example as a
Ralf Nielsen is an assistant systemic shift, and its meaning in pedagogical model which synthe-
professor at The University of terms of product design, are consid- sises ‘sustainable development’
Southern Louisiana where ered with particular reference to a with industrial design. Finally, the
he teaches sustainable Master’s degree project which implications of such an approach to
product design as part of addresses product design within product design are discussed with
the Industrial Design Programme. the context of a ‘sustainable reference to the broader proposition
community’. This project not only of a systemic change to production
illustrates an approach to sustain- and consumption, a proposition
able product design, and the range which, increasingly, is being
of factors which have to be consid- acknowledged as a contingent
ered, it also suggests an innovative factor for achieving sustainability.



Introduction changes they imply, are not ‘sustainability’ is so significant

well understood. These terms that it cannot be achieved by
his paper describes an
T approach to sustainable
product design developed to
encompass such considerations
as environmental stewardship,
small, incremental improvements
to our current approaches. It is
reductions in the use of natural the ‘current approaches’ them-
address the negative environ-
resources, and conservation of selves which, in many respects,
mental and social effects
habitats. In addition to these are the primary obstacle, there-
associated with products which
terms, ‘sustainability’ and fore small improvements to
are in a rapid state of technologi-
‘sustainable development’ those approaches are unlikely
cal advancement. The personal
require a commitment to social to achieve the changes necessary
computer (PC) was chosen as the
issues – to social equity within for sustainability.
vehicle for this conceptual
and between countries.
exploration because it represents A number of writers in the field
Furthermore, the terms
a particularly problematic area (such as Van der Ryn and
challenge our ideas of ‘growth’;
for the application of sustainable Cowan, 1996, and Orr, 1992) have
‘development’ and ‘growth’ are
principles. suggested that one of the key
frequently seen as synonymous –
ways to move in a sustainable
An introduction to sustainable but development does not equate
direction is to shift our activities
development, and the shift with growth (Hawken, 1993).
towards human scale and local
needed to align our ways of ‘Growth’, a word frequently used
scale endeavours. Such a shift
designing, producing, using and in today’s business environment,
could have major environmental
disposing of products with is a quantitative term, it means
and social benefits and advan-
sustainable principles, is increasing in size; it seems that
tages but it would also mean
followed by an overview of the whatever the current size of a
significant changes in the ways
project and a discussion of the business, there is always a
we live and work, the nature
main findings. The approach perceived need to become
of our material culture and the
adopted during this Master’s bigger; whatever the profits,
ways we manufacture and use
Degree project suggests an there is always a perceived
innovative pedagogical model need to have more. Obviously,
for addressing sustainable ‘growth’ cannot be sustained. In the field of urban planning
product design. Suggestions for On the other hand, ‘develop- designs have been developed for
developing this model to address ment’ is a qualitative term, it ‘sustainable urban communities’
other, related areas of design are suggests improvement in social, (Perks, Kirby and Wilton-Clark,
included. environmental and economic 1996). These community designs
conditions. When linked to incorporate residences,
‘sustainable’ it suggests that such businesses, and retail and
Sustainable development recreational facilities within a
advancements be achieved in
Over the last ten years, since ways which are consistent with compact community form. They
the 1987 report ‘Our Common continuous improvement. are designed to be sensitive to
Future’ (Brundtland et al, 1987), environmental and ecological
the terms ‘sustainability’ and issues and to provide employ-
‘sustainable development’ have The systemic shift ment opportunities and facilities
been used extensively to describe In order to align our ways of for other human activities – all
many different, and often living and our current working within easy reach of residences:
contradictory, approaches to practices with the principles of by walking, cycling or by use of
environmental and economic sustainability many authors (eg. public transport. These commu-
issues, and business planning. Fioruzzi, 1995 and Manzini, 1996) nity designs have higher popula-
Despite their common usage, are suggesting that a fundamen- tion densities than those of
often the core meaning of these tal, systemic shift is needed. The conventional suburbs in North
terms, and the magnitude of the magnitude of change implied by American cities, and provide a



variety of housing types. Higher Local resources tial advantages of dematerialisa-

population densities not only Use of local energy and materi- tion within the sustainable
require less land use, they also als, and local knowledge and community model. Services
help to ensure that businesses, skills would enable products to within such a community could
public transport and other be designed and produced in allow the use of many shared
facilities can be economically ways which are suited to the products and facilities – such as
viable. These explorations, utilitarian and cultural needs of laundry facilities, lawnmowers,
which attempt to align our the area, and which are sensitive public transport, etc. While such
forms of living with principles of to local environmental condi- services still require products,
sustainability, have considerable tions. Such production would their shared use means that the
implications for the role of the also create local employment overall number of products is
industrial designer. opportunities and permit product reduced.
repair, maintenance, upgrading,
re-production and recycling at
Implications of sustainable Case study
the local level. It would also
development reduce packaging and the need Technology and sustainability
for product design for long distance shipping. – a conceptual exploration
Sustainable community design, through design
Dematerialisation, shared
and investigations into ways of This Master’s degree project was
products and a service based
living which could provide both conducted to explore the poten-
environmental and social tial of designing products in ways
Another aspect of product design
benefits, have a number of impli- which adhere to the principles
and sustainability is demateriali-
cations for the design, manufac- of sustainable development.
sation. The concept of demateri-
ture and use of products – impli- The focus of the project was
alisation relates to the replace-
cations which can contribute to the portable PC. This was chosen
ment of products with services.
our understanding of the term because it seemed to be a
Technological advances could,
sustainable product design. particularly problematic area
conceivably, allow a transforma-
for the adoption of sustainable
Local scale design and tion to a more service-based
production economy, where many current
Product design and production products are no longer required. The technology of PCs has been
within and for sustainable On-line services such as tele- advancing at a rapid rate for a
communities will require a phone directories, newspapers, number of years. This has meant
reorientation and restructuring videos and music, could, poten- that PCs have been becoming
of our ways of manufacturing. tially, obviate the need for many ‘technologically obsolete’ within
Sustainable development points individual, autonomous products a short time of their purchase.
towards smaller scale, flexible – which all require materials, The product might continue to
manufacturing facilities which manufacturing, packaging and fulfil its intended function, but
allow for a variety of products to shipping. It is not yet clear if advances have meant that new,
be produced for local or regional such services would indeed more powerful machines offer a
markets. This, in turn, will reduce material consumption. greater number of desired func-
require innovative design For example, at one time it was tions and faster operating speeds.
services which allow products, widely expected that office As a result the machines are
through their design specifi- computers would reduce paper replaced within a relatively short
cations, to be manufactured, and usage, whereas now it has period. The pace of development
re-manufactured economically become apparent that paper use in PCs has been impressive –
in smaller quantities. has significantly increased with current models are able to
the introduction of computers. operate in the order of three
However, there are other poten- thousand times faster than the



original IBM PC introduced in

1982 (Young 1993). However, this
rate of advancement has also
meant that PCs are being
discarded at equally impressive
rates – it was predicted that
between 1992–96, 50–70 million
computers would be disposed of
(Aeppel, 1994).
The project set out to examine if
and how the industrial designer
could make a contribution to
sustainability by addressing this
problem of technological obso-
lescence through a re-design of
the PC.

The initial approach – Figure 1: A ‘snap-together’ systems concept

The initial approach was to As an analogy, the 35mm single Incidentally, some computer
explore the potential of a lens reflex (SLR) camera is an manufacturers are now exploring
modular computer which could example of a product family this type of modular concept.
be readily upgraded by the user. where different components can
A series of design explorations
It was recognised that the rate be purchased and assembled by
were conducted using the
of ‘technological obsolescence’ the user. A basic camera body
modular concept:
of the different components and standard lens can be supple-
A systems approach
within a PC varies considerably, mented with telephoto and
Stacking and snap-together
but the whole computer is wide-angle lenses, tripods, flash-
components with standard
replaced when the ‘weakest link’ units, motor-drives and so on.
electro-mechanical connections
needs to be upgraded. For The backwards compatibility of
were explored to develop a
example, a computer might be this family of products allows the
folding notebook type product
replaced in order to take advan- camera to be adapted and
(Figure 1). However, it was
tage of the latest developments upgraded, and the life of the
realised that the spatial and volu-
in Central Processing Unit (CPU) product is extended. Over time,
metric compatibility of compo-
speed or memory capacity, but all of the ‘original’ components
nents was a significant constraint
the screen, keyboard, disc drive may have been replaced and the
in this concept. Future compo-
and casing might still be func- product will have evolved into
nents would have to conform to
tioning in a satisfactory and something new.
the established geometry of the
acceptable manner. A modular
Using the SLR camera as a model, system, and as the spatial and
design would, potentially, allow
the PC was divided up into its volumetric requirements of new
only those components to be
various component parts – technologies was unpredictable,
replaced which have become
comprising display devices, input this concept did not provide the
‘technologically obsolete’. This
devices, CPUs, power supplies, necessary flexibility for an adapt-
would reduce the number of
data storage devices and buses. able, and durable system.
components being discarded, and
Conceptually, these various
also allow the user to customise A non-systems approach
components might be separate
the product according to their The constraints discovered in
items which could be easily
particular needs and economic the systems approach led to the
assembled by the user and
means. examination of ways which were
exchanged as required.
conceptually more flexible and



adaptable to new technologies.

As an example of the potential
flexibility required, the idea of
upgrading display devices from
a flat screen to a virtual reality
headset was used. Similarly, a
data-glove could, conceivably,
replace a keyboard. Designing
a product family which could
adapt to such changes was not
possible within the ‘systems’
approach discussed above. In
the ‘non-systems’ approach,
the various components were
physically separated in order to
facilitate spatial and volumetric
flexibility (Figure 2). One
Figure 2: A non-systems approach offered greater spatial flexibility for upgrading
concept utilised a folding folio,
made from a fabric, used to
potential advantages of flexibil- and shipping a large number of
house the components. Another
ity, upgradability, etc. individual components needed
idea was a belt or strap with
for regular upgrades.
pockets for the components. A change of approach –
A further possibility used the delivery of computer services At this point it was decided to
metaphor of a student’s book- in a sustainable community explore a different strategy.
strap to bundle components. Having explored the potential The concept of ‘product sharing’,
of modular concepts – both in emanating from the work in
These ideas would allow for the
a rigid ‘systems’ format and in ‘sustainable community design’
necessary volumetric flexibility –
a more flexible, ‘non-systems’ mentioned above, suggested a
for upgrading, adaption and
format, it became clear that the new ‘service-oriented’ direction.
customisation – and would
design of such a computer was A network system would allow
contribute to environmental
problematic, for both technolog- much of the computer hardware
stewardship by reducing the
ical and usability reasons. While and software to be removed
amount of materials and prod-
the basic criteria of upgradabil- from the PC unit and would
ucts entering the waste stream.
ity, flexibility and user customi- allow upgrades to be carried out
However, despite these potential
sation appeared to fulfil many once for a large number of users.
advantages, these concepts also
of the environmental considera- Such a system would require a
had a number of significant
tions by reducing materials personal interface to be linked
disadvantages. The relatively
throughput, the design of a to a central server system, rather
large number of separate compo-
modular concept seemed to than remaining an independent,
nents linked by electro-mechani-
create as many problems as it autonomous unit. However,
cal connectors, and bundled in
solved. Furthermore, familiarisa- the recent rapid development
a particular configuration, would
tion with the issues during these and use of on-line services
mean that the computer would
early stages of the project suggested that this lack of
have to be unpacked and set-up
revealed that, although the autonomy would not be a
for use – a potentially time
modular system would allow significant problem.
consuming and awkward task,
which could also create wear some savings in terms of The project at this point became
problems and damage. These resource use and waste not ‘how to design a portable
factors seemed to outweigh the production, there would still computer in a way which was
be a requirement for packaging compatible with the principles



Figure 3: The Personal Net: minimal interface connected to a community computer facility

of sustainability?’ but ‘how to supplies etc. which would, in and software which might be
deliver the services offered by turn, significantly reduce the beyond the economic means
the portable PC in a way which number of components held by of many computer users – if
was compatible with the princi- the individual users. This concept they had to purchase equivalent
ples of sustainability?’ There is a resulted in a significantly differ- products on an individual basis.
subtle but important difference ent computer architecture. The Thus the concept also appeared
in the phrasing of these two ‘personal product’ was reduced to contribute to social equity,
questions. The first question to a minimal ‘dumb’ interface which is one of the key elements
constrains the designer to think unit, with some form of display of sustainable development.
in terms of an autonomous unit and an input device such as a
similar to existing portable keyboard or pen. All other
computers. The second has no components were located at the
The personal net
such constraints, and allows community computer facility. This conceptual design
fresh ways of tackling the The Personal Interface can be reconfigures the architecture of
problem. seen as a window to these shared the PC so that the majority of
facilities. This concept is not hardware and software compo-
The context of the project
unlike that of mainframe nents are shared from a commu-
remained the sustainable
computers, X-Windows architec- nity facility, with minimal inter-
community scenario developed
ture, or some of the low cost face hardware held by the
by urban planners. The commu-
computers designed for accessing individual user (Figure 3). The
nity network approach was
the world wide web (WWW). context for use of this design is
initially conceived in a way
the sustainable community
where file storage and software The ‘community net’ appeared to
scenario. The product concept is,
would be located at a local, satisfy, to a much greater degree
in many respects, compatible
community-run computer facil- than the previous ideas, many of
with sustainable principles. It
ity. Later it became apparent the energy and materials issues
substantially reduces energy and
that it was possible to extend the related to environmental stew-
materials requirements for
number of shared components ardship, while also allowing users
manufacturing because of the
to include CPUs, buses, power to access a variety of hardware



The product
concept is, in
many respects,
compatible with
Figure 4: Personal interface: Phonepad concept
principles. It
shared nature of the majority of
components, and it facilitates a
It was also estimated that a
monthly service fee in the order
degree of social equity in its of $50 to $80 per month would
accessibility. Furthermore, tech- cover costs of: start-up equip- reduces
nological advancements in CPU, ment, a building to house the
computer memory and storage, community computer facilities, materials and
peripheral hardware, and soft- the salaries of technical support
ware can be upgraded at the staff and an administrator, energy require-
central facility, thus all users hardware and software upgrades,
benefit from these upgrades and
premature obsolescence of many
and energy consumption of the
facility. While such a service fee
ments for
individual, autonomous products
is avoided.
might appear to be unattractive
to potential users it is cost
The viability of such an approach
was investigated once the
competitive with the alternative
of purchasing a new PC every 2
because of the
to 3 years, while offering added
conceptual design was found to
be technically feasible. It was
benefits of technical support, and shared nature
a broader range of up-to-date
estimated that each community
facility, or ‘node’, could serve
hardware and software. Added of the majority
to this are the environmental
approximately 800 users. Links
between different community
benefits of the concept and the of components,
social and community aspects of
nodes would facilitate communi-
cations and allow users access to
the central facility.
For those in the community
and it facilitates
different resources. The
community facility (node) would
requiring only occasional use
of a computer, the community
a degree of
be located in a convenient
computer facility could provide
location within easy access for
the users. It was estimated that
a number of terminals on a pay- social equity in
per-use basis. An additional
the higher population densities
envisioned for the ‘sustainable
advantage of the concept is that its accessibility.
individual users can choose their
community’ designs would allow
own personal interface equip-
a centrally located node to be
ment – the development of a
within 4 minutes walk
product family comprising a vari-
(approximately 400m) of
ety of input, output and network
800 users.
connection devices would allow



users to select equipment appro-

priate to their needs (Figures
4–6). The minimal nature of the
personal interface also lends
itself to portability – a criterion
of the design exercise.
This conceptual design fulfils
many of the requirements set out
in the initial project brief, which
sought to explore the potential
of redesigning a portable PC in a
way which would be aligned with
the principles of sustainability,
and which would overcome,
Figure 5: Personal interface: notepad concept
as far as possible, the negative
aspects of technological obsoles-
cence. The benefits include:
· resource use reduction:
energy and materials usage are
significantly reduced because
fewer products are manufac-
tured. Use of paper products
is also reduced because fewer
manuals and handbooks and
less packaging are required.
· extended product care:
recycling, repair and reuse
of components is facilitated
because the majority of hard-
ware is moved one step closer
to the manufacturer. This
allows manufacturers to track
and take increased responsibil-
ity for their products, thus
Figure 6: Personal interface: laptop concept encouraging and supporting
ideas of extended producer
responsibility and the require-
ments of product take-back
· reduced impacts of tech-
nological obsolescence: the
sharing of major hardware and
software components begins
to reduce the negative environ-
mental effects of rapid techno-
logical obsolescence. Designers
and manufacturers would be
able to place increased empha-
sis on reliability, quality, and



maintenance of components. community scenario’. As a result,

These factors could save the insights of those working in
By taking into
significant amounts of energy other disciplines, at larger scales
and materials, not only during of intervention, and the priorities consideration
the manufacturing stages, but incorporated into the community
also during the operational life design, were able to inform the the work of
of the products. product design process. This
· flexibility in upgrading and resulted in a conceptual design other
extended product life: the capable of delivering PC services
problems encountered in the
earlier ‘modular’ concepts,
in a way which is compatible
with the overall community
related to the spatial and
volumetric constraints of new
design principles and infra-
[this conceptual
components, are overcome by
housing most of the hardware
design] …
Potential for further work
in a community facility. This
allows relative freedom from This project prepares the ground- illustrates a
spatial constraints and facili- work for market and economic
tates component upgrading by feasibility studies which would be process of
trained technical support staff, necessary prior to the detailed
which in turn contributes to design of a family of products
capable of delivering computer
design which
extending the useful life of
products. services via a community net
approach. In furthering this
broadens the
· product leasing and software
protection: local management
of the community facility
work, a number of issues not
touched on during the project,
more traditional,
could be considered. For exam-
could also allow more closely
controlled leasing agreements ple, the manufacturing of the product focused
with hardware providers and computer products at the local
software developers, which level could be investigated. This approach.
could result in consistent, would create local employment,
predictable sources of revenue allow products to be tailored to
and reduced losses due to local needs, allow the use of
software piracy. locally available materials and so
on. In considering these aspects,
This conceptual design appears to the relationship between mass-
resolve many of the conflicting produced parts and locally
priorities which often seem to produced parts and assembly
exist between sustainable devel- could be examined. In addition,
opment and product design. By the conceptual ideas for the
taking into consideration the interface-hardware designs,
work of other disciplines (in this developed during the project,
case urban planners), it illustrates adhere to our traditional notions
a process of design which broad- of product aesthetics – which
ens the more traditional, product have evolved from a modernistic,
focused approach. This ‘broader industrial culture. The introduc-
perspective’ resulted in a design tion of locally appropriate
concept which was contextually designs which could be, at least
based within a ‘sustainable partially, manufactured at the



local level, suggests that product the priorities of sustainable manufacturing and the develop-
aesthetics could also evolve in development. This raised deeper ment of product aesthetics. Such
ways which start to reflect and questions related to environ- investigations could enhance
embody the sustainable ethos mental, social and economic opportunities for local employ-
which underpins the product. conditions. In order to explore ment, use of local materials, and
Such an evolution would start these issues, work from other for creating products attuned to
to reflect both sustainable disciplines was found to be cultural values and identity.
values and particular cultural important, particularly the
preferences. sustainable community scenarios
The project also addresses the
developed by urban planners,
The economic feasibility of these concept of dematerialisation.
which provided a contextual
ideas would also have to be The PC was reduced to a mini-
anchor for the consideration of
closely examined. But this would mum by allowing users to share
products and product design. The
have to be done in a way which community facilities. This creates
sustainable community scenario
recognises the environmental a ‘service-oriented’, rather than
was, in effect, a mechanism for
and social costs of our current a ‘product-oriented’, focus. As
focussing the project.
ways of manufacturing, distribut- technologies converge, the
ing and using products – the so The project suggests that potential of this concept
called ‘externalities’ which are designers can use ‘scenarios’ of becomes even more significant.
generally not included in our a ‘preferred future’ as a tool to In principle, many currently
present economic models. understand the steps which need autonomous products – all with
Changes at the government to be taken in order to redirect their own manufacturing facili-
(policy) level would be required our approaches to design. A wide ties, materials requirements,
to enable and encourage such a range of studies can inform the packaging and shipping, and
shift. designer when progressing these disposal problems etc. – could
concepts, including anthropol- converge into minimal interface
ogy, sociology, economics and products. Televisions, radios,
A pedagogical model engineering. It is only by begin- music equipment, newspapers,
for sustainable product ning to understand these broader telephones, videos etc. could be
development issues, and their relationships, addressed in similar ways to the
As a pedagogical model for that significant progress towards PC. With on-line services, many
addressing product design in sustainability, and sustainable of these products could, conceiv-
the context of sustainability, product design, can be effected. ably, be eliminated. Thus, the
this project raises a number of Technological evolution and project suggests that service- or
significant points and avenues sustainable development systems-oriented design
for further exploration. approaches can be a valid area
The project illustrates an
for inclusion in industrial design
Issues-oriented design and approach to design by which
education, especially if sustain-
interdisciplinarity technological obsolescence
able product development is to
It becomes evident that in order can be both acknowledged and
become incorporated into design
to incorporate the principles of incorporated into the process
sustainability, the focus has to of product design, production,
change from being ‘product use and disposal. The project ‘Independence’ and
oriented’ to being ‘issues demonstrates that a harmony can ‘inter-dependence’
oriented’. The conceptual basis be achieved between two seem- Finally, the project raises issues
of the approach had to embrace ingly opposed sets of priorities about ‘independence’ and
the broader issues which tend to ie. technological evolution and ‘inter-dependence’, and about
create conflicts between our sustainable development. Further the nature of community based
ways of living and working, and work in this area could explore enterprises. Examination of the
the feasibility of local scale



logistics of running a a commu- sector, have to be challenged if local scale economics), sociol-
nity based facility is required. the ‘systemic shift’ is to be ogy, and sustainable develop-
The community ‘server’ could effected in a timely manner. The ment will help to provide the
be an entirely commercial exploration of these potentiali- foundations for addressing new
enterprise, or it could be run as ties, through academic design approaches to product design.
a community cooperative – projects can illustrate and give This is, perhaps, the necessary
where the users own the facility form to the opportunities which first step in the process of
and participate in its operation. exist for rethinking our ways of change. •
A cooperative approach may also living and working. A shift in
be appropriate for the actual design curricula, to recognise A shorter version of this paper was
manufacturing of the products. and encompass ideas such as presented at the IDSA Educators’
The industrial cooperatives of interdisciplinary studies, scenario Conference, Washington DC, 1997.
Mondragon, in the Basque building, economics (particularly
country of northern Spain, have
demonstrated the economic
feasibility and social benefits
of such an approach (Morrison,

Conclusion References
The challenge of aligning the Brundtland et al, ‘Our Common Future’, World Commission on Environment
design, manufacturing, use and Development, (Oxford University Press, Oxford, 1987).
and disposal of products with
Hawken, P., ‘The Ecology of Commerce – A Declaration of Sustainability’,
principles of sustainability is
(HarperCollins, New York, 1993) p.140.
both formidable and complex.
When products which are in a Fioruzzi, M., ‘From Eco-Design to Vision Design’, (Draft – Domus Academy
rapid state of technological Research Centre, 1995) (with permission).
development are considered, this
Manzini, E., ‘Sustainable Product-Services Development – Introductory
challenge becomes even more Notes, Pioneer Industries on Sustainable Service’, (workshop organised by
difficult. The case study illustrates UNEP-WG-SPD in the INES Conference ‘Challenges of Sustainable
a possible approach which has Development’, Amsterdam, 22-25 August 1996).
the potential of overcoming
many of the apparent conflicts Van der Ryn, S., and S. Cowan, ’Ecological Design’, (Island Press,
Washington, 1996) pp 57-80.
between sustainable develop-
ment and our material needs and Orr, D.W., ‘Ecological Literacy – Education and the Transition to
desires. The adoption of such an a Postmodern World’, (State University of New York Press, 1992) p.31.
approach in the commercial
Perks, W.T., R. Kirby, A. Wilton-Clark, ‘Edgemont II – A Study in Sustainable
sector will require a number of
Community Form’, (The University of Calgary, Centre for Livable
changes, including government
Communities and Faculty of Environmental Design, 1996).
policy, so that manufacturing
corporations are encouraged to Young, J.E., ‘Global Network Computers in a Sustainable Society’,
consider alternative ways of (Worldwatch Paper No. 115, Washington Worldwatch Institute, 1993).
delivering services, while ensur- Aeppel, T., ‘For Computer Recyclers, Old Computers Offer New Niche’,
ing economic viability. (Wall Street Journal, August 8, 1994) B1-2.
Furthermore, our predominant
Morrison, R., ‘We Build the Road As We Travel’, (New Society Publishers,
notions of ‘growth’, which are
Philadelphia, 1991).
still prevalent in the commercial



Unraveling the environmental

product design paradox
H Scott Matthews & Gregory C Chambersn
Doctoral Student in Economics, Carnegie Mellon, US
Corporate Manager of Worldwide Environmental
Health and Safety for Quantum Corporation, US

H. Scott Matthews is a doctoral As global mandates on ‘end of life’ Introduction

student in economics at the business product disposal finally go in to
school at Carnegie Mellon. He is
affiliated with Carnegie Mellon’s Green
effect, companies must begin to
define appropriate ‘end of life’
P concerns in the electronic
commodities supply chain are
Design Initiative, an international strategies. Business decision-
makers need to be more aware being driven by Original
industry-academic research consortium
of the opportunities, issues, and Equipment Manufacturer (OEM)
that seeks to improve the environmental
liabilities which will face the customer environmental
quality of products through managing
company in the near future, and management system require-
the use of toxics, renewable, and
will need to be able to sufficiently ments. They are viewed
non-renewable resources. His previous
address them. Environmental increasingly as business competi-
research has consideredgreen pricing
Product Design (EPD) suggests tiveness decisions for both the
and the lifecycle environmental impact of
the need to consider the life cycle OEM and the supplier.
electronic products, namely computers.
environmental, health, and safety
His current research interests are in the Decisions on the materials
impacts of a product early in devel-
area of environmental product design composition, fabrication, assem-
opment. EPD increases the ‘end of
and Full Cost Accounting. He has a BS in bly, and ultimate disposal of
life’ value of products, but seems
Computer Engineering and Engineering a product should be made based
to decrease the benefit to the
and Public Policy and a MS in on ‘end of (useful) life’ disposal
company. This paradox served as
Economics from Carnegie Mellon. the launching point for a study in alternatives [Fiksel 1994, Graedel
how to find benefits from EPD. 1995, OTA 1992]. Emerging inter-
Gregory Chambers is the Corporate
This paper presents a case study national regulations require
Manager of Worldwide Environmental
of Quantum, a manufacturer of take-back and proper disposal of
Health and Safety for Quantum
electronic commodities and defines products by commodity manufac-
Corporation. He is leading the develop-
the frameworks for analysing turers at the end of their useful
ment and implemention of a corporate
product disposal alternatives. life [ASTM 1996, EU 1993].
environmental performance programme.
Alternatives studied include Appropriate flexibility exists as to
which has been focusing on issues of
contractual agreements, total where in the commodity manu-
products and the environment. He has
destruction, total disassembly, and facturers supply chain this occurs.
sixteen years experience as an environ-
reuse. One of the primary sources
mental health and safety professional At this time, European countries
of data used is a composition
in the aerospace and high technology are leading regulatory efforts, but
analysis from an external recycler.
electronics industries and has a MS in it is only a matter of time until
The analysis shows the optimal
Safety from the University of Southern most industrialised nations have
strategies for each disposal option.
California, and a BS in Environmental some form of mandatory take-
Further illustrations show the
and Occupational Health fromCalifornia back. Even individual states (eg.
implementation of a management
State University at Northridge, California. information system to link disposal Minnesota and New Jersey) in the
with design. US have begun to consider take-



back. This trend in regulations is substances and monitors their measuring the actual liability
a direct result of the technology use across the supply chain. would be to create a comprehen-
advances and shorter life cycles Quantum provides customers sive real-time product location
of electronics commodities, the with data about product compo- tracking system to monitor the
decreasing amount of available nent materials that helps them number of products in each
worldwide landfill space, and the determine issues of recyclability, legislative region subject to envi-
increasing level of worldwide reuse, and restricted substance ronmental restrictions, and the
environmental awareness. The percentage. Quantum’s cost of reclaiming such affected
economic bottom line of this Environmental Product Design components or products. Of
trend is that all products used in (EPD) programme is designed to course, this system is infeasible.
locales subject to environmental reduce the negative impact on In its absence, firms must resort
restrictions or take-back legisla- environmental and human health to a ‘least uncommon denomina-
tion will need to be reclaimed by and safety of all Quantum tor’ approach of environmental
the manufacturer (or an agent products, processes, operations, management – where the mere
thereof), regardless of either and facilities. existence of a material or process
their original point of sale, or the restriction somewhere on the
The essence of the EPD
intermediary distributor of the planet leads to the elimination
programme is in preventing
product. of that material or process in all
negative impacts before they
products produced for any
In this paper, we describe the start – by considering these
environmental performance issues in product design and
issues facing Quantum, an materials selection, as an integral Similarly, all firms need to
American manufacturer of part of the product development monitor the environmental
computer storage products. For cycle. EPD is thus positioned as a performance of their suppliers.
Quantum, environmental perfor- business issue. By necessity, product take-back
mance means considering the and materials specification comes
environmental health and safety from the top of the supply chain
(EHS) impacts of products during
Take-back issues [Stock 1992]. Even though in
the product development life Electronic products are some instances products will be
cycle and developing specific ultimately used in every part of contained inside another supply
programmes that will result in the world. Although warranties chain as a sub-assembly (eg.
measurable reductions in those provide an indirect contract internal hard disk drives within
impacts over time. To put between the end user and the computers), it can be assumed
perspective on the magnitude of manufacturer, with the only that if a product is returned to
impacts, Quantum shipped over direct contracts being between an OEM, they could return the
6.5 million drives to Europe and producer and customer. This sub-assembly to its manufacturer.
over 11 million in the US in 1996. indirect relationship will become Ultimately, suppliers should be
increasingly important in the prepared to take back all neces-
Because of Quantum’s position
future when legal obligations sary products on their own. The
near the top of the supply chain
require knowledge of a firm’s smart supplier makes the issue of
(both buying parts and sub-
businesses and products, and, adapting to its reverse logistics
assemblies for products and
more specifically, their environ- requirements a ‘non-issue’ for its
manufacturing components for
mental burden. customers.
use in customers’ products), the
company receives many ques- In short, manufacturers of elec- Take-back relevant to Quantum
tions from business partners and tronic goods are already incur- at this time happens via the
customers about the use of ring potential future liability for OEMs. However, recent discus-
restricted substances in products every product which may reach sions with key customers have
and processes. As part of this the end of its useful life in envi- shown that their ‘end of life’
effort, Quantum has organised a ronmentally sensitive areas. A reverse logistics or product recla-
list of environmentally relevant straightforward mechanism for mation facilities currently find it



profitable to process Quantum EPD does more than just benefit which are actually taken back by
products due to the high content the environment. The bottom- the OEM. Finally, the manufac-
of metals. For this reason, no line benefits of EPD can be seen turer receives less of a return
Quantum product is returned via in an increased ability to manage from the added ‘end of life’ value
such networks. total cost through each product’s than it would have without
life cycle by considering issues implementing EPD. Thus the
In determining take-back
such as product ‘end of life’ costs benefit to the company is
networks, firms must be able to
during the design phase. decreased.
physically take back products
Quantum sees this activity not as
before they can realise any
an additional cost of operation,
subsequent benefit from extract- Linkage to Full Cost
but as an ‘end of life’ investment
ing value. A logical starting point
in the product. Accounting
is to begin by analysing current
repair or return networks. The The ‘pay off’ from such an analy-
existing volume of returned units sis comes from incorporating
The EPD paradox
is the most important factor in ‘end of life’ information into the
On the surface, implementing a data used by managers to make
determining whether the repair
product take-back system is not product engineering and
and return mechanisms already
an exercise in maximising economic decisions such as
in place can effectively serve as a
benefit, but rather, in minimising design or pricing. One applica-
larger take-back network. In the
cost. However, this statement is tion of such information is in
case of Quantum, the volume of
short-sighted and serves to illus- Full Cost Accounting (FCA). FCA
returns is so small that attempt-
trate the Environmental Product seeks to identify and quantify all
ing to include ‘end of life’ prod-
Design (EPD) paradox: costs related to the manufacture
ucts in the same logistics stream
would currently be infeasible. EPD increases product ‘end of life’ of a product [US EPA 1995,
However, the inherent network value, but decreases the benefit to Epstein 1996]. All information on
could support take-back by the company. lifecycle costs greatly enhances
adding capacity. the accuracy of this type of
One of the reasons firms decide
system. With information on the
Despite a current lack of to implement EPD is to increase
ultimate disposal of the product,
Quantum products being the ‘end of life’ value of their
and access to the related manage-
returned via take-back or other products. However, this ‘end of
ment information, it becomes
‘end of life’ agreements, it is life’ value determination should
possible for designers to easily
prudent at this time to consider necessarily also include the
see the effects of their materials
the business decision of imple- benefits and costs of taking back
and process decisions on the
menting a product take-back obsolete products. As noted
ultimate fate of the product
programme in Europe. Since above, this is generally speaking a
(including take-back).
customers are implementing such net loss to the company. One of
measures, suppliers need to the by-products of ‘building in’ Product disposal options are
consider the parameters of the additional ‘end of life’ value at a function of the design of the
system. There is a need to inves- the design stage is that it makes product. Designers are not gener-
tigate how Quantum’s design the product more valuable to ally knowledgeable about envi-
choices will impact on take-back non-users when it becomes ronmental or ‘end of (useful)
programme strategies, in order obsolete. Thus secondary markets life’ issues, and the goal of a
to both reduce environmental are created which seek to extract management system should not
impact and improve take-back that value from the products be to make them experts in such
program economics. We need to outside of any reverse logistic or areas. However, by expressing
ensure that our drives can be take-back network. The existence the ‘end of life’ parameters as
easily managed at ‘end of life’. of these secondary markets costs we show the inherent costs
reduces the number of products of making bad decisions, an area



where designers can be made major firms in this industry

experts. Few firms currently give suggest that total destruction is a The optimal
such information to designers. growing international industry
However, adoption of a method- response to product reclamation. corporate
ology as described in this paper Most major computer OEMs are
provides the necessary tools to opting for this strategy. In total strategy
link business environmental destruction, an external contrac-
strategy with product design. tor promises to completely
destroy a product, and also
for product
‘End of (useful) life’
certifies zero discharges to the
environment from disposal
Quantum is working to imple-
(excluding energy needed
for destruction). This method is
depends not
ment FCA to address the need popular amongst companies since
to link design stage decisions and it guarantees that no subsequent only on the
‘end of life’ issues. This requires a brand recognition is possible.
significant amount of knowledge Brand recognition is important in bottom line,
about the ‘end of (useful) life’ this sense because costs related to
features of the product. The such things as Superfund liability but also on
increase of detailed analyses come as a direct result of agencies
is highlighting technologies and finding toxic waste sites and
noting which firms are the
the firm’s
processes which allow for various
take-back options. For example, a
hard disk drive can be completely
primary users of the sites, and
then charging them for the ‘clean
level of
up’. This is an attractive option
destroyed, disassembled, or
reduced to its elemental compo- for Quantum, which stands out commitment
nents with available technologies. as one of a handful of electronic
However, the optimal corporate companies with zero liability to the
strategy for product disposal under the Comprehensive
depends not only on the bottom Environmental Response, environment
line, but also on the firm’s level Compensation, and Liability
of commitment to the environ- Act (CERCLA). and the
ment and the proprietary nature
of its products. In the absence of
proprietary concerns, cost-benefit
‘End of life’ analysis proprietary
analysis would suffice in the
determination of corporate
Quantum investigated the costs
of dealing with ‘end of life’ prod-
nature of its
ucts. The research involved only
strategy. The existence of private
information in the form of ‘trade the costs incurred by Quantum products.
secrets’ complicates the optimisa- once the products were back in
tion process. their control; it did not include
the costs associated with the
Technologies which accept old
logistics of transferring the
products as input and then
product from the end user to
destroy, disassemble, or break
them down into their raw
materials are becoming increas- With this in mind, four hard disk
ingly efficient and cost-effective. drive products manufactured in
Interviews and discussion with 1996 were disassembled and
subject to materials analysis. To



add a level of insight, products A many localised contracts to meet technologies to return them to
and B had the same capacity (2 a firm’s worldwide disposal their raw materials composition.
Gigabytes) but different design. requirements. The only sub-assemblies not
Products C and D are separate completely broken down in
At estimated ‘end of life’ return
1.2 Gigabyte models. Using an our analysis were memory and
volumes, the option of contrac-
independent laboratory, the controller chips, since they had
tual destruction was quoted as a
product was broken down into potential reclamation value.
cost of $5 per unit by recyclers.
its major sub-assemblies, and Chips were left in consideration
All in all, the recycler would
then its materials. as a sub-assembly.
benefit even more than by the
The scenarios were considered $5 contract fee by being able to This information has
for analysis based on the assump- reclaim the metals content of all subsequently been placed in a
tion that products were subject drives and keeping those profits proprietary database tracking the
to environmental restrictions and as well. In return, the manufac- usage of materials. Although
thus could not be disposed of turer receives a clear conscience. specific actual data cannot be
locally by the user. It should be Using EPD, the recycler could provided, relevant ratios can be
noted that this does not mandate have less materials to process, expressed to show the magnitude
actual take-back – just a respon- making recycling easier and more of the results. Table I shows the
sibility on the part of the profitable. total weight, number of chips
producer to reclaim the product and materials used, and current
B: Materials reclamation
at the end of its useful life to materials value expressed as a
Companies typically only moni-
prevent disposal. The four percentage of original produc-
tor ‘component level’ data for
options available to the manufac- tion cost for the four products.
their products. For example, the
turer were considered to be: Again, the materials values
cost and weight of the major
· contractual reclamation shown do not include any costs
sub-assemblies. Typically, these
and total destruction related to take-back logistics,
sub-assemblies are purchased
· materials reclamation just the benefits of raw materials
from a contractor for manufac-
· sub-assembly reuse ture. However, necessary and
· product reuse. relevant information such as raw Considered as a sub-assembly,
materials content and usage is chips were priced for their open
A: Contractual reclamation
not monitored. Without this market commodity value. A
and total destruction
knowledge, supplier question- surprising fact was that the chips
As noted above, total destruction already had a zero value in the
naire responsiveness and regula-
is done to certify that the prod- recycled chips market after only
tory tracking are cumbersome.
uct has not been landfilled (and one year. The firm providing that
thus meets regulatory require- Materials reclamation involves
quote noted that demand for
ments) and also serves as a taking components and perform-
such chips was zero for two
means of removing any linkage ing various ‘reverse engineering’
between the firm and any resid-
ual materials. The form of the
contractual arrangement is simi- Product total weight chips used materials used materials value
lar to cardboard and mixed office
paper recycling, where the A 850g/1.9lbs 7 20 1%
recycler agrees to take away the B 510g/1.1lbs 5 22 1%
residual materials and is allowed C 794g/1.8lbs 8 27 1%
to process it in any way with no D 482g/1.1lbs 6 25 1%
added benefit to the manufac-
turer. Implementation of this
option would entail negotiating Table I: Materials specification for case study products



reasons. First, most of the chips

Subassembly % Product Weight % Product Value
were proprietary and the manu-
facturer was the only potential Housing 64.5 70.0
user. Second, the chips were
Magnet Plates 12.2 5.4
already outdated and demand had
Disks 8.4 10.0
shifted to faster, larger capacity
devices. Due to the nature of PCB 5.1 5.0
demand in this market, it was Motor 4.4 3.8
safely assumed that there would Head/Track Assembly 2.8 4.1
be no value by end-of-life.
Other 2.6 1.7
EPD could potentially be used
in this scenario to reduce the
Table 2: Percentage composition of weights and raw materials for
number of chips used in the
subassemblies in case study
design of the product, since it
is reasonable to guess that they turers. Only Quantum could raw materials, and would utilise
will be worthless at end-of-life. create demand for this residual one of the components which
Similarly, material substitutions product. Due to quality concerns represents a considerable share
could be made to lower the and future technology shifts, of value. However, successful
metals count and to increase there is no plan to reuse these adoption of such a programme
end-of-life value. chips. must fit with all internal quality
C: Sub-assembly reuse assurance, production efficiency,
Similar arguments were advanced
and ‘time to market’ values.
The option of reusing sub- about reusing other high-tech
assemblies must be considered sub-assemblies such as heads, The only feasible scenario for
given the materials composition disks, and motors. To determine reusing housings would be if the
results above. Since raw materials the feasibility of reusing sub- net cost of reclaiming and
extraction yields such minimal assemblies, the materials extrac- preparing old housings is less
benefit, it is clear that there is tion data was generalised back up than the cost of simply buying
considerable ‘value added’ in to the sub-assembly level. Table 2 new housings. [Note again that
production. Thus if the high- summarises average percentage the tables do not adjust for recla-
value pieces could somehow be weight and raw materials values mation fees, thus even the
reused, additional benefit could (as a function of total residual benefits from reusing housing
be realised. materials value) for the main will cost money.] Since the raw
sub-assemblies across the four materials value of housings is
Chips are one of the primary
products. only in the $1 range, the reclama-
‘value added’ components in
tion costs could prove prohibi-
electronics today. However, as The only sub-assembly which
tive. This option is being studied
seen above, chips from recently seems to pass quality and tech-
at this time.
produced drives already had no nology reuse concerns is the
demand in the market. One of housing. Interestingly, the hous- Interestingly, working with
the reasons noted for this was ing accounts for 65% of the OEMs to promote EPD gives
the ‘technology push’ to more product’s weight and 70% of the them greater insight into which
complex components. However potential extracted materials subassemblies are the high value
the more important issue is the value. A real opportunity may parts. If at ‘end of life’ the OEM
proprietary nature of the chips. exist to maximise the ‘end of selects just the high value pieces
Most of the chips reclaimed were life’ investment by further study- and returns the rest, the compo-
Quantum-manufactured ing the potential for reuse of nent manufacturer stands to lose
controller chips, which are housings. Reuse would decrease a large percentage of its ‘end of
worthless to all other manufac- the amount of metals discarded life’ investment.
at ‘end of life’, decrease use of



D: Product reuse which are accrued by EPD. Many citizen in the procurement,
Although not specifically studied, firms do not recognise the specification and usage of materi-
this option merits explanation. current liabilities of their prod- als which may cause environ-
Similar to the problem with ucts, and few recognise any mental damage. In some cases,
reusing component technologies potential liabilities, due to firms will require other firms to
at the ‘end of life’, cumulative financial reporting guidelines. be certified to these standards as
problems exist with attempting Likewise, corporate accounting a requirement for doing business.
to reuse total drive products. The and finance systems fail to see In most cases, though, firms will
only way to effectively reuse the benefits. only require companies to show
products is to identify the that they have considered the
The true benefit of EPD can be
components which are obsolete environmental impacts of its
seen in one of two ways. First,
and replace them. The key point, products and have an environ-
since each of the options above
however, is in how ‘obsolete’ mental management system in
have a cost to the manufacturer,
drives are defined. Typically place to monitor these effects.
it seems that take-back is an
drives are completely obsolete exercise in loss minimisation. In preparation for such environ-
in all areas of interest: capacity, Finding ways to lower costs mental management systems,
speed, etc. improves the attractiveness of an Quantum has created a product
However, if the manufacturer option, eg. avoiding reclamation database for designers which
were to take-back products prior fees. Second, all else being equal, records data from the materials
to ‘end of life’ (eg. exchange or a product with an additional usage level, through to the sub-
upgrade programmes), this could ‘end of life’ value designed into assembly level and overall prod-
be an attractive and profitable it is superior to a product not uct composition level. The full
business. Clearly 1–3 year old designed for ‘end of life’ invest- value of this additional informa-
products still have a resale value ment. Seemingly, this difference tion about products is best
much higher than simply the raw can and should be seen as a realised when made available to
materials value. Again, reclama- competitive distinction against designers and other decision-
tion costs could be prohibitive. other products. If marketed makers within the firm.
correctly to customers
Designers will be able to see the
(specifically OEM customers),
materials mix present in current
The EPD paradox revisited this could be a valid reason to
drive sub-assemblies, and with
All four options involve the command a price premium over
the addition of information on
tradeoff of processing costs other products, generating addi-
environmental restrictions, the
and extracted end-of-life value. tional benefit to the company.
net impacts of these materials
Implementing any of the four Maximising the ‘end of life’
selection decisions. As time goes
options using EPD would cost values of products is something
on and additional products and
more. We repeat the EPD all firms will need to be
regulations are added to the
Paradox: concerned about in the future,
system, designers should gain
EPD increases product ‘end of life’ and if a component manufacturer
substantial insight into how
value, but decreases the benefit to is able to help in such overall
materials and component
the company. efforts, they should be rewarded.
decisions change the ‘end of life’
The caveat to the paradox is that value of the product. This
short-sighted firms fail to recog- Information system information is invaluable in
nise the benefits of EPD, which maximising ‘end of life’ value.
and results
are realised outside of traditional The information system allows
The European Union eco-
accounting methods. Currently, for the generalisation and
management and audit scheme
firms are unable to account for comparison of various material,
(EMAS) and ISO 14000, require
most of the costs and benefits sub-assembly, and overall
companies to act as a good global



product options relevant to their to the investing organisation

environmental attributes. It is via through reduced risk, increased References
this system that some interesting customer satisfaction and
ASTM Draft International
specific product conditions were improved efficiency of operation.
Standard, ‘Environmental
discovered. First of all, as seen in The increasingly tight-knit value
management systems –
Table I, the products analysed had chain of international manufac- general guidelines on principles,
similar features but different turing and consumption reveals systems, and supporting
designs. Although A and B were these benefits. For this reason, techniques’, ASTM PCN: 34-01
virtually the same capacity drives, manufacturing organisations 40000-65, 1996.
drive B was roughly half the should embrace EPD as vital to
Epstein, M., ‘Measuring
weight as A but added two mate- business performance. •
corporate environmental
rials to the composition. One of
performance: best practices
the materials added now appears
on restricted substance listings
Footnote for costing and managing an
effective environmental
provided by our customers. Thus, This study was conducted as
strategy’, Irwin Publishing, 1996.
one of the presumed reasons for part of an ongoing project to
being able to reduce the environ- incorporate environmental costs European Union (EU), ‘Eco-
mental impact of the drive (its into corporate decisions and Management and audit system’,
weight) actually introduced a accounting systems, sponsored Council Regulation No. 1836/1993
substance which may in the by a US National Science OJ L 168/1 29.6.93.
future prevent its disposal in Foundation Management of Fiksel, J., and K. Wapman, ‘How
certain areas. It is the identifi- Technological Innovation to design for environment and
cation of these instances which Programme Grant, #DMI-9613405. minimise cost’, in Proceedings
promotes usage of such a system. of the 1994 IEEE International
Symposium on Electronics and
This is a slightly edited version of the Environment, San Francisco,
Conclusion a paper originally published by the May 1994.
It appears that companies Institute of Electronic & Electrical
Engineers (IEEE). Graedel, T.E., and B.R. Allenby,
expending resources on EPD
‘Industrial ecology’, Prentice Hall,
seem not to directly realise © 1997 IEEE. Reprinted with 1995.
return on their investment. permission from the 1997 International
However, on closer examination, Office of Technology Assessment
Symposium on Electronics and the
under the revealing light of inno- of the US Congress (OTA), ‘Green
Environment, San Francisco, CA, US
vative valuation methods, it products by design’, OTA-E-541,
(3–5 May 1997), pp. 13–18.
US GPO, 1992.
becomes clear that the value of
EPD flows directly Stock, J.R., ‘Reverse logistics’,
White Paper. Council of Logistics
Management, 1992, 11-13.

US EPA Office of Pollution

Prevention and Toxics, ‘An
introduction to environmental
accounting as a business
management tool: key concepts
and terms’, Washington, DC,



The challenge of ‘product

chain’ thinking for product
development and design –
the example of electrical
and electronic products
Anna Kärnä and Eva Heiskanenn
Dorctoral Student, Helsinki School of Economics and
Business Administration, Department of Management,
Finland, and Researcher, University of Tampere, Finland

Anna Kärnä is a PhD student at Product development decisions of ‘cleaner products’. Product
the Helsinki School of Economics, have a considerable impact on the development is increasingly
Department of Management. Her life cycle wide environmental challenged to address the impact
doctoral thesis focuses on product- performance of a product. However, of design decisions on environ-
oriented environmental management many stakeholders bring different mental burdens across the full
(POEM) in the Finnish electrical and and sometimes conflicting require- life cycle of a product. Product
electronic industry. Earlier studies ments into the design process. One development is well equipped
concerned eg. electronics waste way to understand the life cycle of to address this task: it has been
recycling and designing more products is to gain a better under- estimated that up to 90% of
environmentally sound computers. standing of the roles, perceptions the whole life cycle costs of a
She has written a handbook on and positions of different stake- product are determined at the
environmentally oriented product holders in the ‘product chain’, design stage (Keoleian &
development for small- and medium- such as raw materials producers, Menerey 1994). On the other
sized companies (SMEs), published manufacturers, the trade and hand, product development does
by the Federation of Finnish Electrical consumers. This article presents not operate in a void. Many
and Electronic Industry in June 1997. findings from a ‘product chain’ stakeholders bring different and
study concerning electrical and sometimes conflicting require-
Eva Heiskanen is a researcher in
electronic appliances. It also ments into the design process.
the doctoral student on Social Science
discusses the implications of
Environmental Research programme at Life cycle design is becoming
‘product chain’ thinking for product
the University of Tampere. She is relatively well-instituted.
development and design.
preparing her thesis on Environmental Information and models for
Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) at the evaluating the life cycle wide
Helsinki School of Economics, Introduction consequences of design alterna-
Department of Management and tives have become available. In
roduct development and
working together with colleagues
Anna Kärnä and Raimo Lovio. Earlier
P design have an increasingly
important role in environmental
many of these models, the prod-
uct life cycle is conceptualised
publications concern consumer’s solely as a system of physical
improvement. The shift from
environmental attitudes and behaviour flows. In this article another
‘end of pipe’ solutions to cleaner
and business and public policy approach is introduced, which
production has now moved to
use of environmental LCA. recognises that the product life
the even more fundamental level
cycle also consists of stake-



holders, who may either obstruct Schot 1993), ‘product steward- operation’ with relevant stake-
or facilitate the integration of ship’ (eg. Boons & de Groene holders such as competitors or
environmental aspects in the 1996), and ‘value chain manage- local authorities (Linnanen &
product life cycle. Thus life cycle ment’ (Linnanen & Halme 1996) Halme 1996).
design (LCD) is discussed within are closely related. A rather
Linkages between actors in the
the broader context of life cycle similar, although somewhat
‘product chain’ may help to
management (LCM). broader, concept used in the
spread environmental improve-
US is ‘industrial ecology’ (eg.
LCM requires concerted action ments from one organisation
Allenby 1994).
by a number of different stake- to another (eg. Hass &
holders. These stakeholders The idea of ‘product chain’ Groenewegen 1996). Often,
include raw materials producers, management (PCM) originates processes that lead to environ-
manufacturers of finished goods, from environmental life cycle mental improvement may
the wholesale and retail trade, assessment (LCA). LCA has high- originate in one organisation
the maintenance and service lighted the fact that many actors or stakeholder that has specific
industries, as well as consumers along the product life cycle power or motivation to enable
and public authorities. The chain influence the environmental environmental improvement.
of actors involved in the envi- impact of a product. For exam- Concepts such as ‘key actors’,
ronmental life cycle of the prod- ple, there are many groups that ‘ecological gatekeepers’ and
uct is often nowadays called the may influence the environmental ‘environmental catalysts’ have
product chain. The integration of burdens of construction materi- been used to describe this type
environmental aspects requires a als: starting from product devel- of stakeholder. Conversely,
flow of environmental informa- opers from the firms producing industrial networks and buyer-
tion, corresponding to the flow construction materials, through supplier relationships in the
of materials, products and money to construction firms, their vari- product chain may obstruct the
within this chain of stakeholders. ous sub-contractors, to residents diffusion of environmental
and municipal waste authorities improvement. Individual
In the following section, an
(Essunger & Tell 1991). organisations may find it difficult
overview of the concept of
to change their activities due to
‘product chain’ thinking is Life cycle thinking links product
resistance by customers or
presented. Next, findings from issues to the environmental
suppliers, or due to missing links
the study concerning ‘product management strategy of a firm.
in the chain of demand for envi-
chain’ stakeholders’ perspectives Often, significant environmental
ronmentally improved products
on electrical and electronic threats and opportunities are
(Boons & deGroene 1996).
products in Finland are high- related to a firm’s suppliers or
lighted. Finally, there is a customers. The first product In order to succeed in the
discussion over the usefulness stewardship programmes were market, environmentally
of ‘product chain’ thinking for established in the chemicals improved products have to be
product developers and industry, where the installation credible. Some minimum level
designers. of the product is often the most of consensus on the goals and
problematic stage in the life means of environmental
cycle. In recent years, the improvement is also needed for
What is ‘product chain’ environmental evaluation of concerted action in the product
thinking? suppliers has also become chain (e.g de Man 1996). These
The focus on ‘product chains’ increasingly widespread. are major challenges, because
in the environmental context has Environmental PCM includes there is still considerable
a number of different origins. ‘downstream steering’ (ie. scientific and political
Concepts such as ‘integrated product stewardship), ‘upstream uncertainty over environmental
chain management’, ‘environ- steering’ (placing demands on priorities. Customers frequently
mental co-makership’ (Cramer & suppliers) and finally, ‘co- distrust manufacturers’



environmental claims, because and component suppliers,

Customers they are perceived to be used to end-product manufacturers,
gain competitive advantage, but the wholesale and retail trade,
frequently cannot be tested by the customer consumers and business
himself. Therefore, credibility, customers, product maintenance
distrust trust and a systematic flow of and repair services as well as
environmental information are waste handlers. Manufacturing of
manufacturers’ major issues in PCM. appliances is generally consid-
ered to be a relatively ‘clean’
Consumers are often mentioned
environmental as the driving force of ‘industrial
industry, but most environmental
problems relate to component,
greening’. However, product
claims, because chain studies have, until now,
usually not included consumers
especially PCB (printed circuit
boards) manufacturing. However,
in recent years, awareness of
they are as stakeholders in the product
chain. This focus is, however,
environmental impacts caused
by the products along their life-
perceived changing. New initiatives are
focusing on demand management
cycle has increased, eg. energy
consumption of appliances, as
and consumer involvement in the
to be used to development of radically new
well as increasing waste problems
created by ‘end of life’ equip-
product concepts (Jansen 1996).
gain competitive Other growing issues that have
ment. Bans on some environ-
mentally hazardous substances in
been highlighted in recent
advantage, but studies are the roles of retailers
products, such as heavy metals
and chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs),
and organisational buyers.
have also been introduced.
cannot be tested Legislation has been proposed in
Conditions for environmental the European Union (EU) and in
by the customer. improvement in the product many member countries to
chain of electrical and extend producers’ responsibility
Credibility, electronic appliances for collecting and recycling ‘end
of life’ equipment.
in Finland
trust and a A study was undertaken with
Electrical and electronic appli-
ances are a large product group –
systematic flow the aim of clarifying the informa-
tional, organisational and
with products varying from
large household appliances to
economic issues involved in PCM
of environmental from the point of view of key
consumer electronics, computers
and small household appliances.
stakeholders. The groups selected
information are as the most important and
The aim of the research was to
clarify the perceptions of product
influential stakeholders in the
thus major product chain of the consumer
manufacturers, trade representa-
tives and consumers roles and
products were consumers, trade
responsibilities in the ‘product
issues in and producers.
One of the four product groups
product chain studied was electrical and
Core questions asked were:
· How do different stakeholders
electronic appliances (see Note
management. 1). Product chains of appliances
see the opportunities and
obstacles of improving the
are often long and consist of
environmental quality of
many stakeholders: raw materials



∑· What kind of environmental appliances: ‘it's the price and in environmental awareness.
information is used and needed quality that count the most’. Organisational buyers are already
by different stakeholders? They stressed the following starting to express clear environ-
· How do they see that factors in choosing electrical mental requirements, with
responsibility should be shared and electronic appliances: environmental awareness
between different stakeholders · technical characteristics increasing in procurement
in order to improve the envi- · price policies during the 1990s. In
ronmental quality of products? general, environmental
· popular and familiar brands
consciousness in Finland was
· easy maintenance and
Focus group interviews enabled viewed as being somewhat
members of each group to lagging in relation to, for exam-
discuss issues with other · energy consumption
ple, Germany or Sweden. It was,
members of the stakeholder · durability. however, recognised that the
group (see Note 2). The role of environmental concerns
Energy consumption and product
discussion was followed by a had grown in Finland, too. But
durability were also seen as
questionnaire. The data and this increase in awareness is not
environmental aspects. There
methods used are described yet discernible in consumer
appears to be increasing aware-
and evaluated in more detail choice for household appliances
ness of energy saving features
in Timonen et al. (1997). and consumer electronics.
of large household appliances
The following interpretation is (refrigerators, freezers, stoves). There were different views of
based on respondents’ views Durability and expected product the future environmental devel-
expressed in the focus group life were also discussed among opment of products. Producers
discussions. References to the consumers, since they felt that mentioned that they had started
extent of agreement within and many appliances are increasingly to pay attention mainly to
between groups are based on short-lived and not repairable. packaging re-design, energy
data from the questionnaire, saving features of products, and
The retailers described
which explored the level of material selection (eg. recycla-
consumers as being ‘pocket-book
agreement on views brought bility of plastic parts). Energy
greens’, meaning that they were
up in the different groups. saving improvements have
not prepared to pay extra for
followed mainly from compo-
environmental characteristics.
nent development, and have
Opportunities and obstacles Only a very small segment of
been fairly easy to implement.
to environmental product consumers were considered
In material selection, producers
improvement environmentally progressive:
have started to pay increased
‘You can almost see it when a
Environmental awareness attention to decreasing the
customer comes in, what it’s
in the market amount of different materials
worth telling them. It's such a
used in products. This has been
Consumer respondents small group of our customers
due to cost reduction pressures,
considered electrical and that appreciate those environ-
and not only because of environ-
electronic appliances to be mental things, there are really
mental reasons. As concern over
environmentally-sensitive very few of them. The others,
the improved recyclability of
products, because they are they listen to their pocket-
products has grown, producers
durable goods that impact on books.’ (Retailer).
said that changing material
the environment both during
The producers saw clear contents of products occurred
production and use, as well as on
differences between ‘business incrementally. Progress is slow
disposal. However, consumers
to business’ customers and due to cost considerations and
did not bring up green issues as
ordinary consumers, and also the fact that many of the parts
an aspect of relevance when
pointed to national differences and components are standardised
selecting and purchasing



and are not made according to a growth in enquiries from ing thing, in a way, it’s a risk for
to each company’s own customers and also to provide the shopkeeper, because you
specifications. data for product LCAs. It is often have to remember, we have to
very time consuming to collect do business every day. If we start
Producers, however, believed
the information needed, because guiding and advising consumers,
that many environmental
supply chains are long and inter- then it’s the end of our business
product improvements could
national. rather quickly.’ (Retailer)
still be achieved:
· energy efficiency of products The role of retailers as informa- Both retailers and producers
would still improve tion providers was intensively highlighted the importance of
· materials would be substituted discussed, as the ‘point of sale’ training salespeople, telling them
for more environmentally situation is often important in about new product features. For
compatible ones the purchase of household example, according to retailers,
appliances. Consumers saw that some environmentally sound
· lightweighting and recyclability
finding out about environmental television sets had failed in the
would increase
aspects requires considerable market due to ineffective
· the number of components in
initiative from consumers, as communication. Although the
products would decrease.
salespeople are not usually able television sets were energy
They also hoped that product to tell customers about environ- efficient and recyclable, their
expandability and multifunction- mental aspects, and this informa- sales were low because
ality would increase. Consumers tion is not necessarily easy to customers believed that ‘eco-
were not optimistic in their find in product brochures. The TVs’ were questionable or of
expectations. Pessimists retailers did not want to adopt lower quality. This was maybe
mentioned that due to the grow- the role of a general educator, due to lack of clear messages
ing volume of appliances as a they stated that they would from the producers to sales-
result of the increasing number inform those customers who people about environmental
of product variations, products asked specifically about environ- product characteristics.
will become increasingly short- mental issues. At the ‘point of Salespeople hesitated to
lived and 'disposable,’ meaning sale’ the customer's willingness introduce environmentally
less repairable or durable. Many to buy and ability to pay improved products because it
consumers were also sceptical influence how much time the was believed that environmental
about producers’ environmental salesperson normally devotes to values were ‘soft’ values which
claims. presenting the characteristics of do not sell products.
Consumers saw a lack of
‘Well, its not really our job opportunities to choose environ-
Current information flows (to provide guidance)… in our mentally sound appliances and
in the ‘product chain’ outlet, for example, salespeople to make choices on the basis of
All stakeholders seemed to have understand that if a consumer environmental criteria . This was
a need for more precise product- comes in to buy a washing- mainly attributed to a lack of
related environmental informa- machine costing FIM 1500,- or information, although as
tion and it is evident that one costing FIM 4000,- … one expected, consumers admitted
information exchange could doesn't wait long if someone that other criteria are more
be intensified in the ‘product starts really pondering about that important than environmental
chain’. Producers emphasised the 1500 marks' machine and there product attributes when buying
difficulty of obtaining informa- are other customers in there≥… a new appliance. Producers
tion on the material contents of he then starts serving other have been quite careful and
components and parts from their customers in the hope of actually maintained a low profile when
suppliers. This information is managing to sell something. You marketing products with envi-
being increasingly required due could say that this kind of guid- ronmental claims. Only one of



the interviewed companies, a label-type of communication as

computer manufacturer, had a good starting point, although Another reason
carried out a green marketing also these labels were seen to
campaign. Generally, environ- have problems. Producers why consumers
mental aspects (such as informa- stressed the need for more
tion about energy saving features standardised data exchange may lack
of products and packaging forms, which would help both
recycling) have been emphasised
in product brochures only during
producers and suppliers to give
and acquire information
the very last few years. Producers
seem to have chosen a careful
concerning, for example,
product material composition
to address
approach to ensure that they and hazardous substances.
don’t distribute information, environmental
Environmental labelling
which might be misleading or
lead to negative publicity later.
Third party labelling schemes
have been developed related to
concerns is
Consumers, on their part, had
not yet noticed many environ-
various electrical and electronic
appliances including: the EU
that it is difficult
mental marketing claims
concerning appliances.
energy label (currently compul-
sory for refrigerators, freezers,
to understand
Problems in using information dishwashers and washing
Another reason why consumers machines); the Nordic environ- and compare
may lack motivation to address mental label (criteria for over 10
environmental concerns is that it products exist); and the EU the various
is difficult to understand and Ecolabel (criteria for 4 appliances
compare the various environ- exist). environmental
mental issues in the product life
The role of environmental
cycle. Is, for example, the
composition of the plastic casing
labelling is clearly still vague issues in the
in the electrical and electronic
of a computer more important
than the recyclability of the
appliance market in Finland. product life
The Nordic environmental label
packaging? Or should one focus
on the maintainability or on the
includes the largest number of
criteria for different kinds of
energy efficiency of a refrigera-
appliances, however almost half
tor? In addition, electrical and
of the respondents thought that
electronic appliances are such
the Nordic label will not be
technically complex products
influential in the future, and that
that it may be difficult for a buyer
the EU eco-label may be more
to assimilate all the necessary
significant. The producers and
information in a buying situation.
trade thought that various
All stakeholder groups mentioned environmental labels (including
that the lack of concrete infor- producers' own labels) are
mation was a real problem. currently so diverse that it would
Consumers claimed they would be better if an internationally
be better motivated towards recognised label, such as the EU
‘green’ concerns if clear calcula- eco-label, should gain a promi-
tions could be presented, for nence. The unwillingness of
example, about energy saving. producers to apply for the Nordic
Retailers saw the EU’s energy label was partly explained by the



a) b) c)

Figure 1: Some third party environmental labels which include criteria for electrical and electronic appliances:
a) Canadian Environmental Choice, b) the German Blue Angel label , c) the US EPA Energy Star label.

fact that most appliances manu- Power to influence products retailers seemed to prefer to gain
factured in Finland are sold There were some differing views environmental merit through
outside Nordic countries. on what responsibility actually initiatives for recycling products
Producers have applied for the entails. Consumers saw their or taking care of packaging
labels which key customers own ability to influence the waste.
require, such as TCO’95 or the market as small, and thought that The producers, on their part,
German Blue Angel label. the responsibility should be with emphasised their own responsi-
the trade, ie. retailers should bility to continually search for
screen products and select the new product improvements.
Shared responsibility and
most environmentally benign Environmental aspects were –
whose responsibility for ones into their product range, notwithstanding the stated
environmental improvement? thus making the consumers’ consumer indifference – seen
How should responsibility decision-making easier. as issues that could provide
be shared? Producers, too, considered the competitive advantage in the
retail trade as having an future. And if not a competitive
Different stakeholders generally
influential role in environmental advantage, at least disadvantage
agreed that producers should be
issues. However, retailers voiced for those companies that do
responsible for environmental
some reservations about chang- manage environmental issues.
issues related to appliances
ing their product range by Producers seemed to be confused
because they have most informa-
including environmentally by the lack of interest in the
tion and product-related know-
improved products. They did not consumer market and were faced
ledge and because they develop
believe that their clientele would with a dilemma: they saw a
and manufacture the products.
include enough 'green diffuse and unspecified growing
After producers, local authorities
consumers' to make such demand for environmental
and consumers were considered
business profitable, and existing solutions, but little actual current
equally important as the stake-
price margins do not allow any rewards for their efforts in
holders who should bear the
extra 'eco-initiatives' without a environmental product improve-
most responsibility. Less
much clearer demand from ment.
responsibility was assigned to
customers. Rather than increas-
the trade or to the media.
ing the sales of ‘green’ products,



The lack of economic incentives (1996 and early spring 1997), runners of the environmentally
for environmental product there was no signs of impending conscious generation of
improvement was also legislation from Finnish authori- customers of the future.
highlighted both by producers ties or the EU. Some working
Trade and organisational buyers
and retailers. They complained groups and pilot projects had
have an increasingly important
that, under current conditions, been established, but the work
role in formulating the product
the costs of environmental was proceeding slowly as the
range available to the consumer,
improvements are borne by product group is so large and the
as well as in supplying informa-
those taking the initiative, while problems complex.
tion about products and their
laggards manage to free-ride. The
characteristics to the consumers.
license fees for environmental
Summary of the ‘product The integration of environmental
labels were mentioned as an
aspects into these roles and
example of this situation. chain’ developments in
responsibilities is only just
Possibilities of capitalising on electrical and electronic
starting. Mostly, environmental
improvements were seen as products activities amongst retailers are
small, and local authorities were
Public awareness of environ- currently limited to store level
considered to be somewhat
mental issues has only recently activities, such as packaging
unappreciative of business
arisen in relation to electrical reduction or ‘end of life’
efforts. More co-operation
and electronic products. equipment take-back services.
between ‘product chain’ actors
Customers consider the Using environmental criteria in
and authorities was called for.
product group environmentally product range decisions is still a
Extended producer sensitive, but lack knowledge new idea for the trade.
responsibility on what aspects to look at.
There is a lack of both supply
Generally accepted environmen-
One practical example of the and demand of environmental
tal criteria for electrical and elec-
increasing need for ‘product product information. Very little
tronic products are still lacking.
chain’ co-operation is the EU’s quantitative environmental infor-
As the products are complex, it
and some of its member coun- mation is collected in the life
will probably take some time for
tries’ planned legislation on cycle of electrical and
these to emerge, and it is still
producer responsibility for electronic products, and supply
difficult to articulate these
‘end of life’ equipment. The chains are long and complex.
criteria in a simple way.
issue of organising collection and Manufacturers often find it
recycling of ‘end of life’ appli- The driving forces in environ- difficult to obtain information
ances, was met with confusion mental product development are on the material contents of
amongst respondents. No clear indirect and include the general components from their suppliers.
ideas on how responsibility for public opinion, subtle pressure Standardised environmental data
this specific issue should be from the authorities, and expec- forms could help both manufac-
shared were presented. However, tations of future customer turers and suppliers to give and
respondents understood that demand. Producers consider acquire information. But even if
every stakeholder will have to environmental issues to be of very detailed information were
take their responsibility for the growing competitive importance. available to product manufactur-
take-back and treatment of ‘end The small segment of customers ers, the real challenge is to
of life’ equipment. Some fears of (mostly ‘business to business’ forward it from manufacturers to
free-riding were presented, but customers and the very small customers in a understandable
respondents also believed that segment of environmentally way. If the information is too
voluntary measures could be aware consumers) who do detailed or technical, it is
successful, e.g company-specific express a demand for environ- difficult for customers to inter-
recycling systems. At the time mental information and improve- pret and integrate it with their
the group discussions were held ments are seen as the fore- other product selection criteria.



Environmental labelling might be tion, product composition or

· Environmental product one solution to this problem, but waste management instructions.
improvements driven by very few appliance manufacturers This makes it very difficult for
‘business to business’ have applied for the EU or them to select environmentally
customer requirements, Nordic Swan environmental sound products. Consumers
expectations of future label, although criteria for many should be more effectively
customer demand and products have existed for quite a informed on why it is worth
subtle pressure from few years. Instead, some other buying environmentally sound
labels, such as the US EPA Energy products. Product development
· No clear consensus on Star and TCO ’95 labels are should establish systems to
environmental priorities widely in use. One reason for gather information on the envi-
in the product group this may be that manufacturers ronmental loadings of materials
· Environmental awareness only use the labels that impor- and components used in products
of ordinary consumers tant customers require. (together with purchasing) and
(households) still weak communicate it in an under-
Organising take-back and re-
in product purchasing standable format to customers
cycling of ‘end of life’ equipment
decisions and other ‘downstream’
will be a real future challenge
· Trade has an important stakeholders (together with
for this ‘product chain’ given a
role in formulating the marketing).
potential EU Directive. The aim
product range and
of EU draft legislation is to Other stakeholders in the
supplying information
extend producers’ responsibility ‘product chain’ (for example,
· More specific and for ‘end of life’ products, but repair service providers and re-
standardised environmental
practical solutions will probably cyclers) also need environmental
product information needed
be based on shared responsibil- product information. One way
(eg. material contents)
ity, with consumers, trade, of spreading information in the
· Environmental information manufacturers, communities and ‘product chain’ is to attach an
is difficult to assimilate in waste processors each having ‘environmental specification’
relation to technically their own responsibilities. to the product (Kärnä 1997).
complex products: there
However it is likely that the costs The specification should answer
is a challenge of communi-
will be borne by the producer questions that are frequently
cating environmental
and passed onto the customer asked from manufacturers (see
improvements effectively
through higher prices. But it is Figure 3).
to customers
still very unclear how this
· Role of environmental Co-operation is needed
co-operation will be organised
labelling is still vague in However good the eco-
in Finland.
the market improvements that designers
The following list summarises make to products, their potential
· Draft legislation on
the main developments in the to reduce environmental impacts
extended producer waste
responsibility will increase ‘product chain’ of electrical and is usually contingent on the
co-operation in the electronic appliances. behaviour of others. For exam-
product chain: producer ple, marking plastics parts by
responsibility ➞ shared type to facilitate recycling is
Implications of ‘product
responsibility. useless if ‘end of life’ appliances
chain’ thinking for product
are not collected and dismantled
development and design for recycling. Energy-saving
Figure 2: Summary of product
chain developments in electrical Concrete environmental features do not save energy if
and electronic appliances. information is needed they are not used correctly.
Customers lack real facts or Worst of all, an environmentally
issues such as energy consump- improved product may fail in the



systems (eg. Welford & Jones

Design for environment (DFE)
· Material contents of the 1995).
or eco-design ➞
PCM may help product develop-
– amounts of different Product chain management ➞
ers to understand the needs of
important stakeholders and Sustainable technology
– environmentally hazardous
secure success for the measures development
– reusable and recyclable taken. There are,of course,
parts and materials different ways of being involved
Figure 4: PCM as a stepping stone to
– are recycled materials or in the ‘product chain’ and gath-
sustainable technology development.
reused components/parts ering and spreading information.
used in the product? This information allows product
· Products’ energy developers to compare their own Footnotes
consumption views with those of other actors,
1. The study included four differ-
and gives direct feedback from
· Instructions for repair and ent product groups: detergents,
product users and other stake-
maintenance clothing and textiles, electrical
· Instructions for ‘end of life’ and electronic appliances as well
product take-back Product chain management as paper products.
is a stepping stone toward 2. Twenty two respondents
sustainability participated in four focus group
Figure 3: Information for ‘product
Some day, maybe rather soon, discussions on electrical and
environmental specifications’
we have to go beyond incremen- electronic products (10
tal product improvement and consumers, 5 trade representa-
market, making the whole effort radically rethink the way clients’ tives and seven producers’
useless. needs are provided for. Such representatives). Consumers
Selecting key issues for environ- innovative leaps cannot usually were chosen from the Consumer
mental improvement still be achieved within the panel maintained by the Finnish
requires value choices, although constraints of a single business National Consumer Research
there are many LCA and other firm (or a single function within Centre. The retailers’ group
tools for product development. that firm). Truly sustainable included owner-retailers, buyers
Furthermore, ‘trade offs’ have to solutions will require large for retail chains and one import
be made between environmental adaptations from all sectors in agent. Manufacturer respondents
and other product requirements. society (Jansen 1996). Sustainable were product designers and
To increase the credibility of the technology development is an marketing managers in compa-
solutions chosen, the valuations even broader concept than nies which produced eg. personal
made in product development PCM, involving the scientific computers, television sets and
should be opened up for a wider community, policy makers and monitors, mobile phones and
stakeholder debate. This is in other stakeholders in society. large household appliances.
line with recommendations to PCM provides firms with
engage stakeholders in compa- a stepping stone towards
nies’ environmental management sustainability. •



References Hass, J. and P. Groenewegen, and H. Madsen (eds.) ‘Industry and

‘Strategic Co-operation and Life the Environment: Practical
Allenby, B. R., ‘Integrating Cycle Analysis’, in Groenewegen, Applications of Environmental
Environment and Technology: P., Fischer, K., Jenkins, E.G. and J. Approaches in Business’, proceed-
Design for Environment’, in Allenby, Schot (eds.) ‘The Greening of ings of the 3rd Nordic Business
B. R. and D. Richards, (eds.) ‘The Industry Resource Guide and Environmental Management
Greening of Industrial Ecosystems’ Bibliography’ (Covelo, California, Network Conference (Aarhus,
(Washington D.C., National Academy Island Press 1996). Denmark March 28-30, 1996).
Press, 1994).
Heiskanen, E., Kärnä, A., Munch af de Man, R., ‘Towards Sustainable
Boons, F. and A. de Groene, ‘An Rosenschöld, E., Pripp, L. and Å. Products through Communication
Interorganisational Perspective on Thidell, ‘Environmental Product and Co-operation in the Product
Ecological Strategies’, paper Improvement: Key Actors and Chain’, paper presented at the 5th
presented at the 5th International Information Flows in the Product Greening of Industry Conference
Conference of the Greening of Chain’, paper presented at the 4th (Heidelberg, Germany November 24-
Industry Network (Heidelberg, Nordic Business Environmental 27, 1996).
Germany, November 24-27, 1996). Management Network Conference
Timonen, P., Niva, M., Heiskanen, E.
Cramer, J. and J. Schot, (Tuohilampi, Finland June 5-7, 1997).
and A. Kärnä, ‘Using Focus Groups in
‘Environmental Comakership Kärnä, A., ‘Ympäristömyötäinen Exploring Views on Shared
Among Firms as a Cornerstone tuotesuunnittelu: Opas sähkö- ja Responsibility for the Environment: a
in the Striving for Sustainable elektroniikkateollisuuden yrityksille’ Product-chain Perspective’, paper
Development’, in Fischer, K. and J. (Helsinki, Sähkö- ja elektroniikkateol- presented at the European Institute
Schot, (eds.) ‘Environmental lisuusliitto, 1997). for Advanced Studies in
Strategies for Industry: International Management (EIASM) Workshop on
Perspectives on Research Needs Keoleian, G. and D. Menerey,
Interpretive Consumer Research
and Policy Implications’ ‘Sustainable Development by Design:
(Oxford, UK April 10-12, 1997).
(Washington, D.C., Island Press, Review of Life Cycle Design and
1993). Related Approaches’, in Air & Welford, R. and D. Jones, ‘Towards
Waste, 44 (May 1994), pp. 645-668. the Sustainable Business
Essunger, G. and W. Tell, ‘Bygvarors Organisation’, in Wolff, R. and B.
miljöpåverkan’, in ‘Sex studier av Linnanen, L. and M. Halme, ‘Can a
Ytterhus (eds.) ‘Environmental
varornas miljöpåverkan’ (Stockholm, Sustainable Industrial Network be
Management: Where do we Stand?’
Miljödepartamentet, Ds 1991:9). Created? Environmental Value Chain
(Oslo, Cappelen Akademisk Forlag,
Management in the Paper-Based
Packaging Industry’, in Ulhøi, J.P.



Automated disassembly
support tool – a
knowledge-based support
system for disassembly of
television sets
Niall Murtagh|
Senior Research Scientist, FA Systems Department,
Industrial Electronics and Systems Laboratory,
Mitsubishi Electric Corporation, Japan

One of the keys to improving the Introduction

recycling process for electrical
roblems related to the
products lies in the ability to
achieve semi-automated disassem-
P disposal of discarded
consumer electrical products
bly. However, for most existing
are becoming significant for all
products this is difficult because
sections of society. For manufac-
exact product data is not available.
turers, there are several reasons
Dr Niall Murtagh is a senior research Mitsubishi Electric is building a
for becoming involved in
scientist in Mitsubishi Electric. He trial plant for the disassembly of
product recycling and, or
worked in engineering consulting for domestic electrical appliances, and
disposal: legislation is being
a number of years before moving into this paper describes a knowledge-
introduced requiring manufactur-
the area of expert systems and based disassembly support tool
ers to shoulder greater responsi-
computer-aided design (CAD). which attempts to overcome prob-
bility for used products; as
Since joining Mitsubishi Electric in lems due to the lack of product
consumers become more envi-
1991 he has been carrying out research data. A database built up by
ronmentally aware, ecological or
within the international Intelligent analysing previously disassembled
‘green’ products are becoming
Manufacturing Systems (IMS) television sets is accessed in real-
necessary in order to stay
programme, focusing on design time by the support tool; statistical
competitive; and in some cases
support tools and strategies for the analyses of the data are carried out
simple economic advantages,
realisation of ecologically oriented to infer unknown dimensions and
such as the reuse of materials or
‘soft artefacts’. He has published over other values for the products to be
parts, can be realised by
20 papers in these and other areas. disassembled; these parameter
efficiently recycling old
He holds BE and M Eng Sc degrees values are then used to guide the
from University College Dublin, disassembly process. It is expected
that the results of the trial plant will Recently, environment-related
and carried out his PhD studies in
provide valuable information for legislation has been introduced
applied artificial intelligence in
designers and developers so that in Japan requiring electrical
Tokyo Institute of Technology.
the ‘end of life’ stage of next gener- appliance manufacturers to co-
ation of electrical products can be operate with local authorities
optimally designed. in finding solutions to disposal



Compared problems. In 1992, four home

appliances (television sets,
As part of the research into
automated disassembly, the
refrigerators, washing machines application of data and knowl-
to Europe and air-conditioners) were edge bases is being considered.
designated as ‘special items’ due Knowledge-based techniques are
where most to the quantity discarded every used to facilitate the application
year and also due to the envi- of information collected
disassembly is ronmental hazard they pose, and concerning items to be recycled.
in 1994 a law was enacted plac- One trial project was undertaken
carried out ing responsibility for disposal of
large television sets (25 inches
in 1996 to build a support tool
for the semi-automated disas-

manually, the screens or larger) and refrigera-

tors (250 litres or larger) with
sembly of discarded television
sets. Using data collected over a

projects the manufacturer. This law will

be extended to cover all sizes of
6 month period, a Computer
Aided Disassembly software tool
the four home appliances listed (CADIS) was developed and
currently being above and will be implemented tested. Although the tool is
in the year 2000. Japanese presently only being applied to
undertaken in electrical manufacturers are the disassembly process, plans
now investigating how best to include its application for gath-
Japan are prepare for this scenario. ering feedback information to
aid designers in the design of
Over the last few years,
attempting to Mitsubishi Electric has become
new products.
involved in various projects This paper firstly describes some
automate the dealing with the disposal of issues in the overall disassembly
electrical products, and is work- task, pointing out the merits of,
disassembly ing with other companies to
develop recycling strategies
and the difficulties associated
with automated disassembly. The

process as within the Government-spon-

sored Association for Electric
type of knowledge needed for
disassembly, whether manual or
Home Appliances. Results of semi-automated, is outlined, as
much as existing trial disassembly plants is the manner in which disas-
are being studied and plans are sembly differs from
possible underway for another plant. conventional assembly. The
Compared to Europe where knowledge required for disas-
and to most disassembly is carried out sembly of television sets is then
manually, the projects currently discussed, before detailing the
investigate being undertaken in Japan are strategy used in the prototype
attempting to automate the tool, CADIS. This strategy shows
whether such disassembly process as much
as possible and to investigate
how a limited amount of data
collected from old television

an approach is whether such an approach is

economical. The reasons for this
sets can assist in certain disas-
sembly tasks. The results of tests
include an awareness that disas- used to evaluate the tool are
economical. sembly is an unattractive task for outlined, and the contribution
human workers due to dirt, dust, of this work to design for ‘end-
odours and dangers posed by of life’ is discussed. While this
broken items, in addition to project was not carried out in a
the high cost of human labour. design context, the strategy used



should be separated even if the

remove dismantle remove economic cost is high, because if
CRT CRT PCB they are not separated, the envi-
cost ronmental cost will be unaccept-
able. Similarly, if the dismantling
of certain parts is very difficult,
X the economic cost may not
justify their separation for
medium environmental cost.
X Referring to Figure 1, normally
the selected disassembly depth
low would be represented by a
point on the horizontal axis
0% disassembly depth 100%
far enough from the zero
disassembly point to include
economic cost (quantifiable) CRT = cathode ray tube disassembly or separation of
X environmental cost (non-quantifiable) PCB = printed circuit board major hazardous parts (eg. CRT),
but not so far as to include dis-
assembly or separation of parts
Figure 1: Disassembly depth versus economic and environmental cost
which are difficult and therefore
expensive to remove, eg. all
to solve the disassembly problem ance, only large parts, easily
cables or screws.
and the results of the disassem- removable parts, valuable parts,
bly process can provide impetus hazardous parts, etc. or some Generally, disassembly will
and direction for combination of these? The proceed while the economic cost
designers. extent to which disassembly is steps are not too large and the
carried out is referred to as the environmental cost steps are
disassembly depth. Figure 1 illus- significant. While some recent
Disassembly issues trates general cost trends for the DfE tools (Boothroyd and
In contrast to much of the disassembly of a television set, Dewhurst, 1996; Navin-Chandra,
published work on disassembly simplified to show how costs 1994) enable detailed analyses of
(Jovane et al, 1993, Zussman et vary with three disassembly steps economic and environmental
al, 1994), the work described – removal of the cathode ray costs, in the case of existing
here is a hands-on attempt to tube (CRT), dismantling of the appliances such precise analyses
solve problems as they exist components of the CRT, and are usually not required for
today. Though the ‘end of pipe’ removal of the printed circuit making disassembly decisions,
approach described here is boards (PCB). Comparing or since the important costs and
ultimately less desirable than a attempting to balance environ- physical parts are obvious, and
comprehensive ‘Design for envi- mental and economic costs is decisions can be taken using this
ronment’ (DfE) strategy, for the difficult and decisions will often information.
foreseeable future various ‘end depend on national or regional Manual versus automated
of pipe’, ad hoc methods will be constraints, but the generic disassembly
necessary to cope with existing nature of the graph will usually
At present most dismantling is
products. be the same.
carried out manually, which
Disassembly depth In considering the optimal depth tends to result in high economic
A major issue is to what extent of disassembly, dismantling steps costs. As a consequence of this,
should disassembly be carried which dramatically decrease the only minimal disassembly is
out, ie. should the aim be to environmental cost are given carried out. The key to improv-
disassemble all parts of the appli- priority, eg. toxic materials ing the disassembly process lies



in automation. Where machines

can carry out disassembly,
TV arrives for disassembly
expensive manual labour can be
reduced, and dangerous and
read model number
monotonous work by human unreadable
workers can be avoided. see if model no. is recorded in database
get key info about TV
no (size, material etc.)
A human will normally use two
sources of information in carry-
exact match try to match info with existing
ing out a disassembly task: get data about this model data in database
approximate match
· Real-time, ad-hoc information
provide data to provide data & indication of
obtained from the senses, disassembly
provide data to
closeness of match, warnings
human disassembler
machines to human contoller
permitting reactive planning.
With machines, this is match
yes acceptable?
equivalent to information automated
or partially no
obtained by sensors. automated
human-controlled minimally
major problem automated disassembly
· Knowledge or expertise about occurs
the product, permitting predic- record problems
record data
tive planning. With machines,
this is equivalent to informa- Principal control input to database
of task
tion contained in data or
knowledge bases.
Work on the CADIS system
considered only the second of
the two information sources, ie.
how to effectively utilise know-
Figure 2: TV disassembly flow diagram and task distribution
ledge or stored information
about a product. The objective
disassembly of old products are flexibility is required.
was to reduce the need for
not strict compared to those of
expensive sensors as much as With these considerations in
new products, eg. it may be
possible by providing back-up mind, research into the automa-
possible to break off certain
support information. tion of the disassembly of
parts rather than unscrew
Disassembly versus assembly them. domestic electric products was
undertaken. This paper describes
The disassembly process is not · The detailed design informa-
how databases of product data
simply the reverse of assembly tion available for the assembly
and an associated knowledge-
for the following reasons: of new products usually cannot
based support system can assist
· The detail and precision of be easily obtained for old
in the realisation of semi-
automated assembly machines products which are about to
automated disassembly of old
cannot be justified for disas- be disposed of.
television sets.
sembly because the price of a · Due to the economic
dismantled product is usually restrictions referred to above,
only a small fraction of a newly many different models and Research strategy
assembled product. variations of a product must
Appliance manufacturers have
· In any case, expensive auto- be disassembled in the one
not systematised or maintained
mated assembly machines are location using the same auto-
data on electrical products over
not required, since the required mated disassembly tools or
the last 20 years. While the
specifications for the machines, ie. a high level of
model numbers given to each



product type may have been · remaining parts (printed shows the disassembly flow
systematically selected to some circuit board, cables, front diagram for old TV sets and indi-
extent in particular companies, cover, etc.) cates the tasks to be undertaken
in general the methods of select- by computer, machine and
Thus, the disassembly depth
ing model numbers have changed human. CADIS carries out the
was determined beforehand by
over the years and often they computer-controlled tasks. As
human decision. Since the
were selected arbitrarily, eg. the shown in the flow diagram, two
economic value of the main
‘inch size’ often appears in TV scenarios are possible:
parts and their impact on the
model numbers, but the other · The TV model number is
environment is known, a
letters and figures are not consis- readable and is already
detailed analysis to determine
tently selected. Thus very little recorded in the CADIS data-
the disassembly depth was not
or no product data exists for base. In this case, CADIS simply
considered necessary.
most current electrical accesses the data corresponding
appliances. · How should data be represented
to the model number and reads
and stored?
The initial work carried out in the data relevant for disassem-
Data and information are
this project involved organising bly. Information to assist
stored in relational databases
product data which had been removing the casing (the best
which were built up by
laboriously collected from about location for cutting open the
analysing and measuring old
150 dismantled television sets. casing), the dimensions of the
TV sets. For the present proto-
Analyses were then carried out CRT, the type and location of
type this level of data and
to determine which data were CRT screws, etc. is provided
knowledge representation
useful in guiding disassembly. automatically to guide the
was sufficient, but for further
Software was written to extract disassembly process. In the
development of the system,
information on trends and current prototype, the infor-
more powerful representation
relationships among the data, mation is displayed graphically
formalisms will be necessary,
and the results were utilised to with pull-down menus avail-
eg. object-oriented databases,
estimate unknown parameters able to view the information
representation of rules, etc.
to enable semi-automated numerically.
disassembly to be achieved. · Which type of algorithms and
· When the model number of a
reasoning should be used in the
The following specific issues TV is unreadable or is not
software programmes?
were considered: found in the database, more
The programs are used to
detailed information describing
· What data or information is useful? detect patterns in the collected
the TV must be input to CADIS
The data or information data. Approximate reasoning
using an interface as shown in
considered useful for disassem- strategies are then applied to
Figure 3 (ie. the overall dimen-
bly of television sets includes infer values for unknown TV
sions of the casing, the dimen-
dimensions and locations of all dimensions. These points are
sions and position of the CRT
major parts, types of connec- outlined in more detail in the
screen, the name of the manu-
tions holding the parts next sections.
facturer, the year of manufac-
together, and types of part
ture and the casing material
materials. For the initial proto-
Disassembly support type). An algorithm searches
type of the tool, the following
software tool the database and carries out a
specific parts and part-group-
statistical analysis to provide
ings were dealt with: This section describes the estimated information to assist
· rear cover (or casing) Computer Aided Disassembly in the disassembly. This infor-
· cathode ray tube (CRT) software tool (CADIS) developed mation is then output in
· electron gun to provide assistance in the graphical and numerical form.
disassembly process. Figure 2



Figure 4 summarises how CADIS

assists the disassembly process.
At present CADIS is not Computer aided disassembly
connected directly to the disas- Input of detailed TV description
sembly line and requires human
Overall dimensions Explanation of dimension symbols
input and transfer of data, which H
A: mm
is output through the user inter- B: mm F
face. C: mm D
D: mm B
E: mm E C
Estimation of unknown
F: mm
product data using database G: mm A G
statistics H: mm
Front face of TV Side view of TV
A model-based matching
Name of manufacturer: (select from menu) 1 Mitsubishi
approach was initially tried –
each TV recorded in the database 3 Sharp
is regarded as an individual Year of manufacture: 19-- 4 Sony
5 Pioneer
model, and the strategy entails 6 Victor
TV casing material (select form menu) 1 plastic
searching the database for the TV 7 Sanyo
2 wood 8 Matsushita
model judged to be closest to the 3 other 9 Toshiba
current TV to be disassembled. 10 Hitachi
However, this approach has the
major problem of deciding which
criteria should be used to judge
closeness, eg. TV sets may Figure 3: Detailed input window
resemble one another in external
size but not in CRT dimensions, Although this data is only The PCBs are crushed after being
or in year of manufacture and approximate, exact accuracy is removed. They undergo dry
manufacturer but not in material not required, since sensors are distillation through fuel extrac-
or style. used to hone in on the exact tion and treatment of the metal-
Rather than employing such a positions. plastic mixture. Between 10 and
model-based strategy, a more 20 grams of solder, an alloy of
detailed parameter-based tin and lead, is used in each PCB
approach is used. Parameter
Destination of recovered in a television sets. These two
values, such as dimensions, mate- materials metals are valuable materials
rial types, manufacturer name, The goal of the disassembly is to with a usable life of 22 to 23
etc. of a TV to be disassembled separate the CRT and the PCBs years. Moreover, lead is desig-
are compared to database values before treating them and the nated as a toxic industrial waste
of corresponding parameters, and remaining parts according to with strict treatment control.
the closest match is found. whether they will be recycled or The solder recovered from the
disposed of. The CRT is built up PCBs is refined and re-used.
The CADIS prototype estimates
where the TV casing should be of panel glass on front and The TV casing and remaining
cut (in semi-automated disassem- funnel glass behind. These are items are crushed before metal
bly, cutting the casing open is separated before detoxification and plastic material recovery
more feasible than unscrewing), of the lead-containing funnel takes place using various separa-
the position and type of the glass takes place. After cleaning tion techniques.
screws which fix the CRT to the and crushing, the glass can be
casing, and the size and position returned to the manufacturere
of the electronic gun. for recycling.



input model input model

number if number
available dimensions

TV for match
base no match
input found
statistical data

required get closest match

inter-parameter in database using
relationship statistical analysis
information results

output in
graphical and
numerical form

rear cover

Figure 4: Schematic of Computer Aided Disassembly guidance system

Testing and implementation In general, however, it should be and a solid CRT which can be
pointed out that even with good viewed from any angle and can
Since the trial disassembly line is
approximations or in the rare be magnified when required. The
not yet built, tests have been
case of an exact match between graphical user interface is built
confined to using the data
the current TV model number using the I-DEAS Master
collected from old TV sets.
and one in the database, Modeller of SDRC Corporation.
Where a tolerance of +/- 15 mm
problems may occur due the Figure 6 shows typical graphic
is acceptable for initial position-
condition of TV, mistakes in output. The CADIS prototype
ing of the sensor in determining
database, etc. These are recorded runs on a Sun SparcStation 20.
CRT screw positions, CADIS
by the human controller for
accurately predicts values for
entry into database, to help
90% of a sample of 145 TV sets.
prevent similar situations
Implications for product
Using this initial position infor- design and development
mation, detail-level sensors can
The output from CADIS includes The disassembly support tool
hone in on the exact screw
a graphical 3D representation of described here has been built
centre to enable automated
the TV casing as a wire-frame to facilitate the recycling of
removal of the screws.



products which were initially

designed with no consideration C
for ‘end of life’. Thus, the
approach is ad-hoc and only the
automation of certain parts of
the disassembly process is being
attempted. However, other
benefits can be obtained to assist
designers and developers. It is
expected that the implementa-
tion of the trial disassembly
plants and the application of
tools such as CADIS will provide
valuable feedback for designers
of new products. Such feedback A

will include information on the C = xA + y D = uB + v

following: where x, y, u, v are determined by statistical analysis
· areas where standardisation of database of previous cases
of product parts and sections
is most desirable, such as Figure 5: Estimation of coordinates of CRT screws from external screen dimensions
screw types and locations,
connections, and materials
develop a general knowledge need for large scale sensors, by
· desirable types of connections repository for information and giving initial position informa-
and fastenings – which data about electrical products. A tion for detail-level sensors. And
connection types are amenable store of knowledge is necessary in situations where approximate
to automated dismantling because the size of a dismantling information is sufficient, such as
· how product data should be project will be beyond a single a desirable location for cutting
stored – whether bar-coding human expert or group of open the TV casing, the output
or chip implant, etc. experts. from CADIS can replace sensors
· which product data should be and human control.
stored to facilitate ‘end of life’
Conclusions The intention in this work was
treatment, dimensions,
also to utilise as effectively as
materials, etc. The computer aided disassembly
possible the limited amount of
support system, CADIS, described
An important issue not yet data collected from old TVs.
here is primarily intended to
tackled is how to gather this Although collecting such data is
permit partial automation of the
feedback information. Future time-consuming and laborious,
dismantling of old television
work on CADIS will consider and only a relatively small
sets. Secondary aims include the
how to automate the acquisition number of items can be
application of the methods to
of information and data obtained analysed, it proved a valuable
other electrical products and the
during the disassembly process. source of information about
gathering of knowledge to aid
This knowledge acquisition products for which no data were
the design of new products.
process is not only aimed at available. The project enabled
gathering feedback information In the disassembly process, approximate but nevertheless
for design, but also at updating CADIS is intended to comple- useful information to be
the database in order to improve ment, not replace sensors, since obtained from the small data set,
the disassembly process. the information it provides is which could be applied to any
Ultimately, it is hoped to only approximate. However, TV that arrives for disassembly.
such estimates can obviate the



Figure 6: Graphical output from CADIS On a larger scale, problems still

showing views of cathode ray tube exist regarding the logistics of References
inside TV casing electrical appliance disposal –
Boothroyd, G, P. Dewhurst,
how to collect and transport old
Design for Environment Software,
TVs, and how to achieve a practi-
Users Guide, Boothroyd
cal balance between automated
Dewhurst Inc. (1996).
and manual tasks. Furthermore,
while the automation of disas- Jovane, F., L. Alting, A.
sembly is aimed at reducing over- Armillotta, W. Eversheim, K.
all costs, it is difficult to deter- Feldmann, G. Seliger, N. Roth, ‘A
Key Issue in Product Life Cycle:
mine precise cost data without
Disassembly’, Annals of the CIRP,
actually carrying out trials with
Vol. 42 No. 2, (1993), pp. 651-658.
the system. The trial plants in
operation and being planned in Navin-Chandra, D. ‘Design for
Japan at present depend on state Environmentability’, Proceedings
a) 3D view or industrial funding, and their of the Design Theory and
economic viability without such Methodology Conference,
funding is doubtful. Thus the role American Society of Mechanical
of these trial plants and proposed Engineers, Miami, Florida, (1991),
disassembly support tools such as pp. 119-125.
CADIS is one of pointing out Navin-Chandra, D. ‘The Recovery
directions in which to proceed, Problem in Product Design’,
proving (or disproving) cost Journal of Engineering Design,
estimates, and providing data Vol. 5 No. 1 (1994), pp. 67-87.
for design of future products. •
Zussman, E.. A. Kriwet, G. Seliger,
Acknowledgements Assessment Methodology to
Support Design for Recycling’,
This work was carried out as
Annals of the CIRP, Vol. 43 No. 1
part of the work of the Gnosis (1994), pp. 9-14.
b) Rear view consortium which is partly
funded through the Intelligent
Manufacturing Systems (IMS)
programme. The author is grateful
to other members of IMS Gnosis
team within Mitsubishi Electric,
in particular Takao Bamba who
managed the project and Dr
Shinjiro Kawato for useful
discussions and comments.

b) Side view



‘Greenfreeze’ – the CFC and HFC free refrigeration technology

Greenpeace, Germany

Greenfreeze is a chlorofluorocarbon (CFC) and hydrofluorocarbon (HFC) free refrigera-

tion technology in which propane and butane are used as coolants and cyclopentane
is used for insulating foam. The environmental organisation Greenpeace has
promoted and pioneered the use of Greenfreeze refrigeration, which was first
developed by the Foron company in Germany. The technology is now being used
by a growing number of large manufacturers of refrigerators such as Bosch Siemens.
The primary market is Europe. Factories using Greenfreeze are opened or scheduled
to open in Many European countries, Australia, Argentina, Turkey and Russia. The
largest manufacturer is in Kelon, China and produces 1,000,000 Greenfreeze fridges
per year and plans to convert more to this technology.

Greenfreeze production line During the tenth anniversary meeting of the Montreal Protocol in September 1997,
in Kelon factory, China Greenpeace received a prestigious award from the United Nations Environment
© Greenpeace/Hindle Programme (UNEP) for its work in promoting ozone and climate-friendly refrigeration.

For further information contact Doug Parr, Greenpeace UK on +44 171 865 8240.

Dr Freisendanz, developer of
the cooling method, with a
prototype of the Foron fridge
© Greenpeace/Scharnberg

Ozone-safe fridge produced by ddk Scharfensteln GmBH, Saxony, Germany

© Greenpeace/Scharnberg

Kelon factory, China

© Greenpeace/Hindle



'Biopac' – starch based packaging

Franz Haas Waffelmaschinenfabrik, Austria

The starch packaging 'Biopac' is the fast food chain McDonalds (Austria)
manufactured by Franz Haas Waffel- and the Swedish national airlines, as
maschinenfabrik. This company usually well as at major international events
produces wafers but, following a where disposable cups, saucers, cutlery
lengthy research project, applied its and crockery are used in huge quanti-
experience in heat technology to finding ties. The benefit of this packaging is
an alternative biodegradable and edible that it can be mixed and dried with the
material to plastic packaging. The food leftovers and subsequently sold as
ingredients of this starch based cattle food. This way, the use of edible
packaging is potato starch (80%), packaging material is made financially
water (11%), modified cellulose (4%), feasible.
oils (3%) and thickening agent (2%).
Biopac has been used in a variety of
The basis for the successful use of packaging applications including trays
starch based packaging is found in a for the transporting of chemicals and
variety of applications such as cups and pharmaceuticals, creating a biode-
degree thesis entitled 'Good Enough to
saucers. These have been made to be gradable alternative to the PET trays
Eat? The Scope and Possibilities of
water resistant and heat retaining by normally used for such applications.
Edible Packaging' (The Surrey Institute
coating them with a soya and egg white
The Biopac information was compiled by of Art & Design, UK, July 1997). For
mixture. The Biopac material is being
Frank Wuggenig and adapted for publi- further information contact Frank
used by companies such as the large
cation from his Design Management Wuggenig on +44 181 390 7682.
furniture chain IKEA in their restaurants,



Ralph Earle III, Director,

Alliance for Environmental
Innovation, US
Martin Chartern
Joint coordinator, The Centre for Sustainable Design, UK

What do you think will be the greening of ‘business to business’

key drivers for sustainability markets in North America is
within business over the next extremely vibrant. This is
five to ten years? primarily because, unlike most
individuals, business’s pay for the
The first will be a resource
cost of their pollution whereas
scarcity. It has been talked about
individuals have not been asked
Prior to joining the Alliance for for sometime but really has not
to pay that bill yet. So I think
Environmental Innovation, Ralph come to pass yet. I think the fact
that the ‘business to business’
Earle spearheaded Arthur D Little’s that the world got together at
market is more dynamic, in
development of its consulting Kyoto and developed an agree-
terms of recognising the funda-
methodology on Competetive ment to reduce emissions means
mental economic possibilities of
Environmental Strategy. An that there is some broad based
offering sustainable solutions.
associate director in the firm, he international recognition that
received Arthur D Little awards for resource scarcity will be a reality. Third is government intervention
Innovation, Staff Development, and I think that it will probably which is a somewhat awkward
Marketing. He has also served as effect the developing world more way of driving towards these
Assisstant Secretary of Environmental than it will effect the developed goals.
Affairs for the Commonwealth of world since their need for
Do you see sustainability
Massachusettes. Mr Earle serves on resources in the short-term will
as still being defined in
the Advisory Board for the University be greater as they are trying to
environmental terms or as
of Michigan Corporate Environmental transform their economies. In
including a wider social or
Management Programme, the Board the North, we are now well
ethical agenda?
of Directors of the Environmental down the eco-efficiency learning
curve. I think that this is an important
League of Massachusettes, and the
and complicated set of issues. In
Board of Directors of the Dimock Number two is customers.
North America, many companies
Community Health Centre. He hold a Greener customer demands,
tend to lump these issues
Master’s Degree in Public and especially in Northern Europe,
together and typically handle
Private Management from the Yale are already a fairly well devel-
them outside core business func-
School of Management and a BA, oped phenomenon and this is
tions. Environmental issues tend
cum laude, from Harvard College. forcing companies to develop
to be easier to quantify, so there
environmentally friendlier
is a greater willingness to tackle
products. Competition will drive
some of these compared to the
companies to pursue ‘green’
much thornier details of what
issues as fundamental to their
wages should we pay in South
business strategies. However,
East Asia. When you are dealing
thinking more broadly the
with the global economy, there



are some highly diverse cultures Companies exist in a capitalist culture. In some companies it is
and different economies, so economy with the primary finance, others it is marketing,
considering social and ethical objective being to provide a product development or distribu-
issues is very, very tricky. return to its shareholders. We tion or logistics. We need to
are now asking business to get understand what the real drivers
In the next five to ten years, I
involved in social policy formu- for decision-making are within
think that the economic and
lation which is not something the company? How did the CEO
environmental aspects of the
that they were originally set up get his or her job? What are the
debate will be greatly advanced,
to do. To broaden the sustain- values that underlie the way you
but social issues will be at a
ability agenda we need a wider get ahead in that company. So
similar stage to where the
consensus on these issues that you need to answer the business
environment debate is today.
translates to public and private argument, and then you must
The Montreal Protocol was a
policies. articulate the answer in the
precedent in the environmental
terms that the ‘business user’
field and that is really one of the In terms of environmental
makes his or her decisions. So
more transformational agree- sustainability, how do you
you don’t try and redirect the
ments that the world has see the issues being
company in a kind of a pioneer-
achieved to date. However, there operationalised in product
ing way, it is more of a flanking
is yet to be a Montreal Protocol development and design?
covering social issues, I think the
First of all I think that the people
debate needs that kind of push. There are companies in the
who are effectively implement-
What is clear is the difficulty of consumer products world that
ing change are articulating the
quantifying and recognising are product ‘leaders’, they are
benefits of sustainable products
different social aspects. It is now the ones first to market with the
and services to their stakehold-
fairly easy to objectify environ- new floor cleaner or the new
ers, not in sustainability terms
mental performance ie. either pesticide. Secondly, there are
but in business terms. This may
you have emissions or you don’t. companies that are ‘followers’
include the words sustainability
The basic conclusion is that the who are good at reverse
but it may not. What we are
softer issues are much more engineering products. You are
trying to do is to push the
subjective but we need some going to make a very, very
concepts of sustainability by
simple tools just to enable us different argument for sustain-
effectively thinking through
to perceive what cultural, social ability in a ‘product leader’
what it means for a particular
and ethical issues. The invest- company versus a ‘product
organisation and then focusing
ment community, in particular, follower’– as the way that they
on where the greatest demand
is extremely uncomfortable with are likely to contribute to
for environmental effort within
issues that are difficult to quan- sustainability will be fundamen-
the company should be. The
tify. tally different. The ‘leader’
issue is how do we then articu-
would develop an eco-efficient
This is not my expertise but my late the sustainability question
product and the ‘follower’ would
sense is that there is a mix of in terms that business will
take an existing eco-product and
different concepts in companies, understand and act upon. The
then make it more eco-efficient.
environmental health and safety, broad task is that if we don’t
corporate social responsibility, believe that there is a good Could you explain some of the
ethics, and corporate governance business argument there, we are projects you are involved in,
and, if you start to link all of unlikely to be able to convince and some of the key lessons
these concepts together you are the company. learnt in eco-efficient product
moving forward on the business development?
The second is understanding
sustainability agenda. However,
the ‘decision-making fabric’ of We use the words ‘environmen-
we are now expecting businesses
companies, as every company tally preferred’ because we are
to play a different game.
has a particular decision-making really talking narrowly about the



Most environment, we are not

addressing the broader social
environmental impact at the
same time.
question. Our first project is with
companies Johnson Wax who are trying to
The first major lesson learned
from these projects is the need
integrate environmental consid-
don’t like to erations into the very fabric of
to articulate the decisions in the
way the company already makes
their product policy. We are
decisions. Problems occur when
change the taking their existing product
you try to get them to adopt a
development approach and
new decision-making frame-
way they injecting eco-thinking into their
process through individual
work, especially if you are an
external environmental organisa-
make participation and persuasiveness.
We are also working on the
tion. Most companies don’t like
to change the way they make
development of strategies and
decisions metrics to make the system
decisions overnight. So learn
hard, think hard and work hard
replicable throughout Johnson
overnight. Wax’s other product develop-
to understand how the company
makes decisions.
ment processes.
So learn hard, The second project is with
Secondly, it is essential to
understand the ‘bottom line’
Starbucks Coffee which is
think hard and roughly a billion dollar company
impacts from day one. Doing
‘environmentally preferred’
that has focused on the provi-
work hard to sion of European coffee. They
product development may be a
philanthropic social exercise
are opening roughly a store a
within the company but your
understand day, and are growing at about
ability to succeed both with
40% a year. Historically they
instant ‘wins’ and in the longer-
how the have used two cups because their
coffee is served quite hot. We
term will depend on the
project’s ability to generate
company are working with them to
achieve two objectives: use
‘value’ for the company. So
observe, understand and be
more reusable cups as opposed
makes to disposable ones; and to
creative in articulating the
business management benefits
re-design the disposable cup. It
decisions. is quite a specific example of
very early on.

‘environmentally preferred’ Thirdly, we have learned a lot

product design. An interesting of lessons about our whole
dilemma for the company and operations in particular, how
designers is how to integrate to manage ‘NGO: business
‘form and function’ and reduce partnerships’. •



Renewable energy
in portable radios:
an environmental
Ab Stevels studied Chemistry at the
benchmarking study
Eindhoven University of Technology
and, after being employed at Philips Professor Ab Stevels and Arjen J. Jansenn
Electronics Eindhoven in 1966, he
received his PhD in Physics and Professor and Assistant Professor at the Faculty of
Chemistry at the Groningen University, Industrial Design Engineering, Delft University of
the Netherlands. In 1969 he joined the
Technology, the Netherlands
Philips Research Laboratories and
worked on various subjects in solid
state chemistry and materials science, This paper presents the results of Faculty of Industrial Design
then as a glass technologist, laboratory an environmental benchmarking Engineering, research within
manager, head of development and study of four portable radios, two the Technical Product Analysis
general manager of the Optics of which are powered by an alter- group (TPA) concentrates on
business. In 1989 he was transferred native system, and the others are the technical analysis of
to the Consumer Electronics division powered by batteries. The study products, particularly addressing
and since 1993 he has been senior shows that there is considerable the environmental aspects of
advisor on environmental engineering room for the improvement of both product design.
of Philips Consumer Electronics. In electronics and (human powered)
1995 he was appointed part-time alternative energy systems. It also
professor in Environmental Design indicates an interesting environ- Methods
at the Faculty of Industrial Design mental ‘trade off’ between the use
Four radios were ‘environmen-
Engineering, the Delft University of of batteries and alternative energy
tally benchmarked’ using a
Technology, the Netherlands sources. The analysis is the initial
methodology developed by
result of a research project at Delft
Arjen Jansen is Assistant Professor the TPA, and utilising the
University of Technology (DUT) on
at the Faculty of Industrial Design the subject of ‘human powered EcoIndicator 95 value
Engineering at Delft University of energy systems in consumer [Goedkoop 95], and classification
Technology since 1994. His research products’. Ongoing research on factors [Goedkoop 95]. SIMAPRO
subject is Human Powered Energy this subject will focus on the software version 3.1 [Pré consul-
Systems in Consumer Products. In analysis of physical constraints tants 95] was used for calculating
addition to his teaching activities of the human body, new systems life cycle analyses (LCA). The
in Engineering and Design, he is for converting human power into TPA method is a practical
responsible for the popular IDEContest. electricity, possibilities for the approach to gathering and
Arjen Jansen graduated in 1988 at the application of these systems in analysing data on products with
Faculty of Industrial Design Engineering consumer products and assess- a similar or comparable func-
ment of the environmental tionality. A draft version
and has working experience both as
consequences. of a manual, in which the TPA
freelance industrial designer and design
consultant and as project engineer in methodology is described, will
various international companies. Introduction be available from the authors
t the Department of at the end of 1997.
A Engineering Design of the



Ben Wessling
Philips AE 1595
BayGen Freeplay
Grundig Boy 55
Dynamo & Solar Radio

Figure 1 The analysed radios

Description of the required input torque is 1.66 Nm, battery can be charged by a solar
analysed radios with the total required labour panel (amorphous Si, 25 cm2),
input being 628 Joule. The output by net-current or by a hand-
The BayGen Freeplay radio is
drum of the spring delivers a powered dynamo. When winding
produced in South Africa and has
constant torque to a gearwheel the handle at maximum speed,
been designed to be used in
transmission, which is coupled the NiCd batteries are charged
remote areas where batteries are
by a small driving belt to a with 100 mA. Winding the
hard to get or very expensive.
dynamo (Mabuchi RF 500TB). handle at a sustainable speed,
The BayGen received worldwide
Total gearing ratio is 1:904 it takes about 11 hours (at 25 mA)
attention because of its alterna-
(dynamo speed is approx. 1800 to charge the built-in battery.
tive energy system, invented by
rev/min). A fully wound-up The solar panel is able to charge
Trevor Baylis. Although the radio
spring allows the radio to play the batteries with 0–5 mA
was not primarily designed as
for 30 minutes. By dividing the (cloudy day) to a maximum
such, it is seen as a ‘green’
output at the dynamo of 162 of 48 mA (bright sunshine).
alternative by West-European
Joule (90 mW x 1800 sec) with
consumers and specific environ- Both the Grundig Boy 55 and
the input of 628 Joule, an
mental organisations [Benjamin the Philips AE 1595 are small
efficiency of 26% for the total
96], [Belgiovane 95]. In the portable radios powered by
energy system is highlighted.
analysis we focused on the batteries only (two penlights,
‘green’ perception of this radio. The Dynamo & Solar (D&S) AA/R6). These radios served as
The BayGen Freeplay is charged radio is produced in China. It has the benchmark for the analysis
manually by winding a constant- a versatile energy system and can because they have a functionality
torque spring. The spring can be be powered by batteries (two similar to the BayGen and the
wound up to a maximum of 60 penlights) or by a built-in nickel D&S radio (AM/FM, portable, no
revolutions, average charging/ cadmium (NiCd) battery (two use of net-current). The Grundig
winding time is 40 seconds. The Varta V280R cells, capacity and Philips radios are produced
280 mAh). The built-in NiCd in China.



power consumption weight of the energy stored amount of elec- energy/weight

at 70 dB(A) [mW] system [gram] trical energy [Joule] factor [Joule/gram]
BayGen Freeplay 90 1670 162 0,09
Dynamo & Solar 32 68,8 2670 38
Grundig 58 33 37,0 (= 2 ZnCl
Philips 33 batteries size AA) 10500 284

Table 1: Power consumption, weight and stored energy

Assumptions and data were exhausted. In the case of heavy energy system (3,7 mPt
for LCA the Dynamo & Solar radio, the due to steel spring) and resulting
alternative energy system has not large and heavy housing,
The LCA is based on the assump-
been used. Power consumption compared to the other radios
tion that the radios will be used
(see Table 1) was measured in (also see Figure 1). The difference
in the Netherlands. Containers
order to compare the measured between D&S, Grundig and
are used to ship the radios from
and calculated life time of the Philips are mainly due to a larger
the country of origin to
batteries. Only small differences PCB and the energy system of
Rotterdam harbour (at 0.44
(<10%) were found between the the D&S radio (2 mPt estimated
mPt/tonkm). Inland transporta-
life time test and the calculated for the production of the solar
tion of the radios in the country
values. The number of batteries panel, 1 mPt estimated for the
of origin and from Rotterdam
used in the five year life cycle is production of the NiCd battery).
harbour is not considered. ‘End
an extrapolation of the average
of life’ (EOL) data are based on The EcoIndicator 95 values for
of tested and calculated battery
the assumption that the radios the total life cycle of the four
lifetime; the Grundig radio uses
will be treated as household radios have been calculated using
62 batteries in a five year period
waste. However, these EOL data SIMAPRO. The transport value
and both Philips and D&S use 32
do not include the electronics of for BayGen is high, due to its
batteries in the same timescale.
the radio. Because of limited size and weight. EOL value for
availability of data for the envi- Studies show that the environ- D&S is assumed as 1 mPt for solar
ronmental assessment of elec- mental impact of batteries panel and 2 mPt for NiCd battery.
tronics, the data used in this mainly depends on EOL EOL values for Grundig and
paper for printed circuit boards scenarios. In this report, the Philips are too low to be visible
(PCBs) is supplied by the Philips EcoIndicator 95 value for the in the graph.
EcoDesign group. A value of 1350 production of batteries (0,44
The next step is adding the
mPt/m2 was used for the produc- mPt/battery, ZnCl, AAtype) is
EcoIndicator 95 values for
tion of PCBs. The environmental generated by the Philips
production, transport, and EOL
impact of the use of the radios is EcoDesign group. Full recycling
for each radio and values for the
compared by defining the follow- has been chosen as EOL
equivalent use of batteries each
ing ‘functional unit’: scenario, assuming 1,6 mPt as
year. The result is shown in the
1 hour radio at 70 dB(A) a day during EcoIndicator 95 value for EOL
graph in Figure 4.
a five year period. (5 x 365 = 1825 (source: Philips).
hours). This five year period is
based upon estimated life time Conclusions
LCA results
for the radios. The technical product analysis
In Figure 2, the results of the
The battery consumption of the shows there is considerable
SIMAPRO analysis on production
radios was measured by playing room for the improvement of
are presented. The high BayGen
the radios until the batteries the design of radios with
score is due to its large and
alternative energy sources:



30 14

12 packaging
EcoIndicator [mPT]

10 housing
6 energy system

10 speaker, electronics
and antenna
5 2

0 0
BayGen D&S Grundig Philips

Figure 2: EcoIndicator 95 values for production. Notice that the y-axis scale has a different range for the BayGen (0–30)
versus the D&S, Grundig, and Philips radios (0–14).


EcoIndicator [mPT]

use (= batteries)

BayGen D&S Grundig Philips

Figure 3: EcoIndicator 95 value for total life cycle of radios

· The NiCd battery inside the · T

 he improvement potential for · In case the environmental load
D&S radio cannot be taken the BayGen Freeplay consists of of products is dominated by
out (unless soldered) before reduction of the size and the use of batteries, reduction
discarding the radio, which weight of the housing, of the power consumption has
means that the battery will upgrading of the electronics to be the first green option
end up at a landfill or will be and better packaging (no (also see Table 1 and 2).
incinerated. Recently, products foam). This will reduce the
containing non-removable EcoIndicator 95 value for pro- When consumers consider
batteries have been prohibited duction from approximately 8 products with energy systems
in the Netherlands [Dutch to 10 mPt and will also affect other than batteries, they often
Government 95]. the value for transport. conclude that the batteries will
make the products ‘greener’.




EcoIndicator [mPT]

100 BayGen

80 D&S



1 2 3 4 5

Life time [year]

Figure 4: EcoIndicator 95 value during life time (starting point at 0–year consists of the sum of production, transport and
EOL values)

This conclusion is not necessarily

correct. Renewable energy References
systems based on Human Power
Belgiovane, Rob (ed.), The globe report, issue August 23, 1995 on Internet:
may be an alternative for, Sydney, Australia, 1995.
batteries in some products, but
the environmental ‘trade off’ has Benjamin, Yorick, ìPeople Powerî, Way beyond, vol. 1, issue 1, UNEP
to be watched carefully. The Working Group on sustainable product development, Amsterdam, The
conclusions of this benchmark- Netherlands, 1996, pp 26-27.
ing study mainly depend on the Chick, Anne, The ‘Freeplay’ radio, The Journal of Sustainable Product
chosen EOL scenario for Design, issue 1, April 1997, The Centre for Sustainable Design, UK, 1997, pp
batteries (in this case full 53-56.
recycling). Further studies
Dutch Government, ‘Essentials of order on the collection of batteries’,
should chart the effects of
Dutch Government Gazette 45, 9 February 1995, The Netherlands.
different EOL scenarios. •
Goedkoop, M., ‘The EcoIndicator 95’, Final Report, NOH Report 9523, Pré
consultants, Amersfoort, The Netherlands, 1995.
Goedkoop, M., ‘De EcoIndicator 95’, Bijlagerapport, NOH Report 9514, Pré
The authors would like to thank consultants, Amersfoort, The Netherlands, 1995 (in Dutch).
Berno Ram, Fred Reijnen and
Saskia van Leeuwen for their Jansen, A.J. ‘Renewable energy and the road towards “green”
contributions in analysing the portable audio products’, proceedings of ICED 97, International Conference
on Engineering Design, Tampere, Finland, 1997.
radios and processing the data.



Special feature:
O2 New York City (o2nyc)
Edited by Iris V. van de Graafn
O2nyc members who have contributed information
include Scott Bolden, Wendy Brawer, Lewis Korn,
Mark Randall, John Seitz, and Alexandra Sticher

The Journal of Sustainable Product Eco-design update: line’ policies relating to the
Design has developed a partnership news on eco-design workplace; and the environmen-
with the O2 Global Network to further tal impact of design decisions.
projects around the world
disseminate information and ideas on The Foundation’s philosophy is
eco-design and sustainable product New York Wa$teMatch being progressed through schol-
design. O2 Global Network is an A materials exchange service arships to disadvantaged and
international network of ecological called NY (New York) minority design disciplines
designers. The O2 Global Network is Wa$teMatch has been developed students, mentoring programmes
organised into national O2 groups that helps companies save for ‘at-risk’ high school youths,
which work together to provide various money by matching discarded and public awareness efforts to
services such as: O2 Broadcasts, which industrial materials such as, educate and inform the design
report live from O2 events using email wooden scrap and packaging industry. ‘Atlas’, their quarterly
and the Worldwide Web (WWW); O2 waste with companies who can newsletter, provides practical
Text meetings, a meeting place on the utilise these materials. tips on taking action within the
Web; the O2 WWW pages, which Companies donating unwanted workplace, market, environment
provides an overview of activities; O2 materials to non-profit organisa- and community. In addition,
Gallery, an exhibition of eco-products tions, schools and institutions WSF published ‘Sphere’, a yearly
on the Web; and, an O2 mailing list. can also benefit from tax deduc- magazine which reaches over
tions. 25,000 designers, artists, and
For further information on the above
architects. It is a forum to enable
activities and the O2 Global Network For further information contact
designers to discuss strategies to
contact: O2 Global Network Ivan Braun, Project Manager,
improve the ethical, aesthetic,
Tourslaan 39 New York Wa$teMatch
and ecological standards of the
5627 KW Eindhoven tel: 001-212-240-6920
design workplace. Articles range
The Netherlands fax: 001-212-240-6879
from environmentally conscious
email: e-mail:
paper and wood-free plywood to
tel/fax: +31 40 2428 483
World Studio Foundation Samuel Mockbee’s innovative
World Studio Foundation (WSF) architectural work in low-
is dedicated to exploring how income communities.
‘O2 News’ will update readers of creative professionals can
For further information contact Mark
the Journal on the latest eco-design integrate issues of social respon-
Randall, World Studio Foundation
issues from around the world and sibility within their everyday
tel: 001-212-366-1317
on O2’s national activities. professional decisions. Key
fax: 001-212-229-1317
issues include cultural diversity
and identity; beyond the ‘bottom



Ecological design – viewed their principal duty as to ecologically sustainable design

manufacturing with learning to live with the Earth. and interest in helping others
recycled materials understand how ecological
For further information contact
thinking can play a productive
Industrial Technology Assistance Bioneers Conference, 826 Camino de
role in the way we shape our
Corporation (ITAC) is a private Monte Rey, Building A6, Santa Fe,
non-profit organisation, working New Mexico 87505
to improve the performance of tel: 001-(505) 986-0366 ‘Design for sustainability’ and
small to medium-sized NYC fax: 001-(505) 986-1644 ‘environmental currency’
(New York City) firms that create e-mail: O2nyc recently joined forces
or produce technology or manu- website: with two other NYC groups to
factured products. A number of host an interactive design
new ITAC programmes have dialogue for over 70 designers of
interesting environmental O2 Focus: New York Cityn varying disciplines at ‘Material
connections. For example, the The goal of O2nyc is to foster Connexion’, a materials library
NYC Design/Production Link, an environmental sustainability and resource centre. The Interior
Internet-based resource will through design. Design Committee of the
allow firms to identify potential American Institute of Architects
O2nyc provides learning and
partners with specific capabilities (NYC Chapter) co-sponsored the
information gathering
by searching its listings of NYC event on 19 November 1997 in
opportunities for a group of
designers, manufacturers, and conjunction with ‘Glamorous
creative professionals who:
financing sources. Users will be Green’, an exhibition of ecologi-
able to list and search in areas · see ecological issues as a
cal products and materials. The
such as ecological design, manu- challenging responsibility
event was organised by Shashi
facturing with recycled materials · seek to educate and inspire Caan of Gensler Associates, who
and eco-market connections. people to integrate these new worked closely with several O2
considerations into their daily members and George Beylerian
For further information contact
practices of Material Connexion. The
Lewis Korn, Program Director,
∑· share resources and support seminar was based on an interac-
NYC Design/Production Link
one another in the search for tive workshop developed by
tel 001-212-240-6920
design solutions that help Scott Bolden, an O2nyc member
fax: 001-212-240-6879
society progress towards and National Chairman of the
ecological sustainability Industrial Designers Society of
Bioneers · celebrate positive ideas and America’s (IDSA)
The Bioneers annual conference, accomplishments. Environmentally Responsible
took place this year from 31 Design Section. This ‘hands on’
October to 2 November 1997 in The O2nyc website is located at approach gave the participants a
San Francisco. It brought chance to acquire an understand-
together leading scientific and NY. The site started in 1997 and ing of the benefits and strategies
social visionaries who have currently provides a brief intro- of environmentally responsible
developed practical solutions for duction to the group, events and design practices by engaging
restoring the Earth. During the members. Updates are posted them in the process. ‘We are
conference there were 2 to 3 monthly on meeting announce- trying to provide a set of useful
concurrent seminars on a wide ments and upcoming events. In and marketable tools for those
range of topics including ecolog- 1998 there is a plan to extend the people involved in design driven
ical design and architecture. The site with more event coverage, disciplines,’ Bolden stresses,
conference explored the work of images and a showcase of ‘based on the concepts of
the original ‘Bioneers’, the member's work. The site will “Design for Sustainability” and
world’s indigenous peoples, who reflect the members commitment “Environmental Currency”.’



‘Design for Sustainability’ refers The interactive portion of the where nature and the built
to designing products and exercise focused on using environment interconnect in
systems from the perspective of commonsense to examine the their hometowns. The System
the entire product life cycle. possible resources, energy and has become truly global, with
This type of thinking attempts to waste used or produced by a participants in 20 countries on
recognise all of the potential product during its life cycle. This six continents, eight of whom
impacts which the development, type of Life Cycle Analysis (LCA) have already published their own
manufacture, use and retirement is accomplished by creating Green Maps. In early 1998, the
of a product has on the user and scenarios based on what we updated second printing of the
the environment. Performing this know and projections of what third edition of the Green Apple
analysis allows design, marketing, could happen during the follow- Map will be available. Copies are
distribution, engineering and ing five phases: free, thanks to the support of the
business constituents to reduce · manufacturing NYC Environmental Fund and
negative eco-impacts during · marketing Interface, Inc.
product development phases.
· distribution For further information, contact
‘Environmental Currency’ refers · use Wendy E. Brawer, Director,
to the process of identifying gaps · disposal. Modern World Design
and filling them with designed tel: 001-212-674-1631
changes which improve (or have To date, over 700 designers, fax: 001-212-674-6206
no negative effect on) overall students, engineers and architects e-mail:
product cost, performance, have participated in these internet:
durability, aesthetic, manufac- seminars at various design
Solar cars
turability and energy efficiency. conferences including the last
The Northeast Sustainable Energy
In this way, any embodied design two IDSA national conferences.
Association (NESEA) is sponsor-
changes represent improved
For further information contact Scott ing the 10th annual NESEA
‘bottom line’ economics and
Bolden, SKIZUM Werkstatte Design American Tour de Sol, the
performance while improving
Development Studio nation's largest solar and electric
overall product sustainability.
tel/fax: 001-718 643 9117 vehicle race. The race begins in
Participants were split into four e-mail: NYC. It will be organised on
groups to explore the ‘environ- 7–10 May 1998 with a technical
Green Map System
mental gaps’ in the following conference and exhibition. The
Wendy Brawer of Modern World
categories; product, lighting, 50 participating vehicles include
Design has developed the Green
interior and furniture designs. production and prototype cars.
Map System based on her original
O2nyc moderators handed out a New York is the only US state
Green Apple Map of NYC's
checklist of general guidelines that has upheld the 1998 electric
ecologically significant places.
for sustainable design developed vehicle law mandating that 2%
The Green Map System is a
by themselves. Each group briefly of any manufacturer's cars sold
powerful tool for identifying,
reviewed examples of design there must be ‘Zero Emission
promoting and linking all the
endeavours which illustrated Vehicles’. •
eco-resources in a city. This
sustainable thinking and achieved
System started in 1995, and at For further information contact NESEA
the goals embodied in the
present has 67 ‘Green e-mail:
concept of ‘Environmental
Mapmakers’ charting the places website:



Eternally Yours: on’t attempt this book if you are looking for a practical,
Visions on product endurance D mechanistic guide to current best practice in product longevity.
Do read it if you want to be stimulated, challenged and intrigued.
Ed van Hinte (eds.)
010 publishers ‘Visions on Product Endurance’ is an eclectic mix of lectures, theses
Rotterdam, 1997 and musings on the theme of product longevity and its role in sustain-
ISBN 90 6450 313 3 ability. It sets out to unpack and explore this subject, rather than to
256 pages attempt any conclusions or guidelines. It represents the current think-
£34.50 ing of the Eternally Yours team – one of the very interesting groups
of young designers in The Netherlands attempting to think beyond
the current focus of ‘Design for Environment’ to completely new
systems of consuming and producing.
A wide range of themes are examined; the relationship between
product quality and longevity; the role of ritual; the importance of
exclusiveness. There are several interesting challenges to current
thinking in green design circles. For example, it is usually said that
‘fashionable designs’ will be less likely to meet longevity require-
ments than neutral or classic designs. However, because fashion has
become decentralised, and change diffuse, products can survive as
long as they have qualities other than just their fashion styling.
Another interesting observation is on the environmental advantages –
or otherwise – of shared laundry facilities – one of the ‘product-to-
service’ concepts which is often mentioned as an example of a more
sustainable way of meeting our laundry needs. The shared laundry
facility is found to have a much higher energy requirement than using
household washing machines, which may undermine its apparent
environmental advantages.
Those already familiar with the work going on in this subject area
will recognise some familiar names and themes. Ezio Manzini is, of
course, represented and referred to throughout, as one of the original
exponents of ‘immortal products’ and dematerialisation. Stuart
Walker’s section on product aesthetics, and its relationship to culture,
sets out some interesting ideas, including the ‘sustainable aesthetic’.
This is a subject worth exploring, since most work on sustainable
product design has focused exclusively on functional and technical
aspects. Tim Cooper’s thinking on the economics of longer life prod-
ucts is a useful summary of his report ‘Beyond Recycling’, originally
published by the New Economics Foundation.
For anyone who has not come across this area – and perhaps it has
been more of a European interest than a US one – this book serves as
a good starting point to the issues and complexities. Product longevity
seems like such an obvious core theme of sustainability – but as this
book shows, there may be many blind alleys. Solutions which may be
right for one product group will be inappropriate for others. It is
therefore sensible that this book throws out an array of ideas –



mostly fresh and intelligible – occasionally obscure and irrelevant –

which serves to prompt our own imagination rather than to be
For a dense, philosophical medley, ‘Visions of Product Endurance’ is
surprisingly easy to read. This is due partly to the unique and accessible
mini format, partly to the admirable shortness of each chapter and
partly to the stories and examples which are scattered liberally
throughout. As with all compilations, there are stronger sections
and weaker sections – but even the weaker sections usually contain
a concept or a phrase which makes them worthwhile.
Some people may find this book maddening – unresolved, rambling,
unstructured. Others will find it charming, entertaining, enthusiastic,
provoking. Given that there are very few green design books one
could possibly describe as charming, it deserves a place on the shelf.
Dorothy Mackenzie is founding partner of Dragon, UK, author of various publica-
tions on ‘Green Design’ and a Centre for Sustainable Design Advisory Board Member.

Factor Four: ccording to its dust jacket, Factor Four – the recent book by
Doubling wealth,
halving resource use
A Ernst von Weizsacker and Amory and Hunter Lovins – will make
you angry at the people who stand in the way of a wealthier and
Ernst Von Weizsacker, Amory environmentally healthier future. We have the ability, the authors
B Lovins, L Hunter Lovins argue, to double our wealth, and do it cutting resource use in half – a
‘factor of four’ (4X) step toward a better life. We could do this now,
Earthscan Publications Ltd.
if only... well, if only someone would get out of the way.
London, UK, 1997
ISBN 1 85383 407 6 To show how easy it is to make the 4X improvement, the book
352 pages reviews 50 cases where it has or could be done. Most of the examples
£15.99 save energy and several come from the Lovins’ Rocky Mountain
Institute. We learn, for example, that the Institute uses super-
windows that save money, resources, and make their buildings
more comfortable. Further afield, we learn that we could have better
tasting yoghurt and save on transportation costs and energy if we
made yoghurt at home.
Each case sounds like an exciting business-venture opportunity. Of
course by the final idea, one begins to wonder why the authors are
trumpeting these terrific opportunities so openly. Shouldn’t they be
off quietly rounding up venture capital so they can reap the hand-
some rewards? Indeed, they would be, the authors imply, if they had
the time. But, they have bigger fish to fry. The same 4X improvement
can be obtained on a larger scale by making some simple policy
adjustments. Regulated utilities must be driven out and replaced by
markets. This new free market should then be augmented with
‘feebates’ – ‘a combination of a fee charged for inefficiency and a
rebate rewarding efficiency. Transferring wealth from those whose
inefficient choices impose social costs to those whose efficient
choices increase social wealth’ as well as other incentives. For exam-
ple, buildings more efficient than ‘normal’ should receive subsides,
while those less efficient should be taxed. Such reform is costless,
they argue. At worst it will simply redistribute wealth to the more
efficient, and it will probably increase productivity.



One might wish to know how ‘normal’ will be determined and how
the feebate system will be administered, but the authors must move
on to an even bigger issue: the planet’s life is at stake. The Meadows’
(who along with Jorgen Randers and William Berens wrote the doom
predicting The Limits to Growth) may be right, the authors argue,
the earth has passed the limits of sustainability, the crash is coming.
Now is the time to act: invest in the 50 ways, change regulatory
policy, make yoghurt at home.
As advertised, the book indeed made me angry. I found myself
becoming more and more sceptical, and this made me angry at
myself. The authors are clearly brilliant people. I have often cited
their previous work. They have long and distinguished careers. They
have championed important new ideas, and put many new and
interesting ideas into this book. Their message is certainly right:
opportunities exist, policy reform is needed, the future appears
grave. Who am I to be cynical? My cynicism is standing in the way of
a 4X better world.
But try as I might my scepticism grew. The authors seem to want to
save resources for some vital but unstated reason and have pasted
together a set of brightly coloured ideas to convince the reader to go
along. All together, these ideas are dazzling, but upon inspection,
many appear simplistic.
Disturbingly, for those who wish to believe the authors vision, the
authors often tarnish their own proposals. Some of the shining ideas
clash with their neighbours, suggesting inconsistent or flawed logic.
For example, in the first half of the book the authors argue that
people can independently benefit from saving resources, but then
argue vehemently for regulation. Why, if energy is so beneficial, is
regulation needed? In the latter half of the book the authors argue
that regulation may increase growth, but then argue it must be
enacted to prevent environmental catastrophe. Why do they need to
justify regulation with predictions of environmental apocalypse if
regulatory reform has no cost?
Thus, with the presentation of each glowing, monochromatic,
victimless idea, I became increasingly sceptical. As inconsistencies
between these ideas appeared, I became doubtful and resistant.
Gradually, my anger at myself switched to anger at the authors.
Indeed, I now wonder if the authors themselves don’t ‘stand in the
way’ of finding solutions to environmental problems. They seem to
want to sell rather than convince, and this breeds doubt and distrust
of their goals and their methods. This book would be far more
convincing if they had openly discussed problems, difficulties and
uncertainties. Couldn’t some of the recommended policy changes
backfire? Couldn’t some of the 50 ideas actually reduce wealth? Even
if home labour eliminated the transportation of yoghurt, won’t it
increase the transportation of milk?
Professor Andrew King is Assistant Professor of Management and Operations
Management, Stern School of Business, New York University, US.



Wasted: counting the costs hroughout his prolific career, Professor Michael Redclift has
of global consumption
Michael Redclift
T consistently asked uncomfortable questions about contemporary
environmental policy and social movements, often revealing
Earthscan Publications Ltd, unfounded assumptions in the process. His latest book, ‘Wasted’,
London, UK, 1996 continues in this vein. In the introduction , Redclift claims that
ISBN 185383 355X sustainability ‘can only be achieved by incorporating a knowledge
173 pages of the consequences of our behaviour into the behaviour itself.’
£12.95 According to the author, the behaviour that is in desperate need of
attention is the industrialised world's addiction to over-consumption.
Furthermore, because institutions designed to manage the environ-
ment do not correspond to the behaviour that transforms our
environment, progress toward sustainable development will be
difficult. This ambitious book examines the environmental
consequences of over-consumption, the inadequacies of global
institutions designed to deal with these consequences, and tangible
policies for reaching sustainability.
Redclift begins with an historical perspective, discussing events
leading to and subsequent to the 1992 Earth Summit. He examines
how development and environment began to be considered together
and how vital issues of equity, international debt, poverty, trade and
population were ignored at Rio. These omissions, serious failures,
according to Redclift, have undermined agreements ever since. The
recent wave of international agreements such as the Climate
Convention and the Biodiversity Convention have been inadequate
responses, in part because of the political climate under which they
were drafted. Chapter Three goes even further back in history,
discussing environmental change as an historical process, beginning
with the industrial revolution. His goal in doing so is to illustrate
the co-evolution of social and natural systems, thus, showing how
environmental targets imply social choices.
In this context, the book then enters and remains in the domain of
global consumption. In one of the most engrossing sections of this
book, Redclift explores the political economy of the 'hydrocarbon
society,' focusing on North/South relations. He points that the
developed world consumes nearly ten times the per capita energy of
the countries in the South. This type of inequitable trend is further
exacerbated by the way in which the environmental costs of the
‘hydrocarbon society’ are distributed. ‘The production of wastes in
the North,’ he tells us ‘is indissolubly linked to the environmental
problems of the South, sometimes directly… but always indirectly’
(p.90). The problem of global sustainability then is framed by existing
relations of power which govern global economic interdependence.
He then explores public policy, in this case energy policy, in Western
Europe and Brazil, to understand the factors which are constructing
the global agenda.
By framing global consumption in terms of politcal econmy and
sociologic factors Redclift leads to a major contention: that global
economic and environmental processes are linked to behaviour at the



local level, and must therefore be dealt with at the local level. The
final chapter of ‘Wasted’ examines case studies of local action. One
strategy is the new Local Exchange Trading Systems (LETS) schemes
that have sprung up in various countries. Another is the Fairtrade
movement and campaigns such as The Farmers' World Network which
links farmers in developed and developing countries in order to
bridge inequalities in current trading systems and distribute food to
where it is most needed.
Clearly, Redclift is treading ambitiously wide terrain, all within the
confines of 170 pages. Unfortunately, his cogent initial arguments are
hurt because the book discusses a long history and complex issues
at a dizzying pace. For example, a section entitled ‘International
Environmental Problems in the 1980s’, covers economic restructuring
strategies, the legacy of the adjustment decade, the environment and
social processes at the international level and the relationship
between the economic crisis and the way it altered perception of
global environmental management in just five pages!
Furthermore, Redclift is attempting many things simultaneously: to
bridge sociological analysis with an analysis of the underlying social
commitments which define consumption and global political econ-
omy; to develop a social construction of how we metabolise nature,
to examine the political economy of consumption and the treatment
of wastes, and more. This is not to say that Redclift is wrong for
including all this. Too often these interrelated areas are isolated from
each other, leaving the real complexity unarticulated. But by accom-
modating so much he has produced a dense and forbidding book.
It is also curious that a strong argument presented in the introduction;
that sustainability must operationalised at the local level, is not revis-
ited until the final chapter, and even then unsatisfactorily. This last
chapter promised to be the strongest of the book by interweaving the
various strands of arguments together with exciting case studies of
new locally-based strategies. But we do not get a real sense of the
potential for these initiatives; rather we are only presented with a
brief description of how they operate.
To be sure, ‘Wasted’ is difficult reading. For those readers, especially
decsion-makers within international NGOs and students of institu-
tional analysis, who are willing to put forth the effort, the book
should resonate widely. Redclift grapples with complex issues and
thus provides insights into past failures and the necessary steps to
reach future goals in the realm of sustainable development.
Virginia Terry, Researcher, Sustainable Product Design, The Surrey Institute
of Art & Design, UK.



Managing eco-design 1: 2–3 March 1998 24–26 April 1998

online conference Eco-efficiency: a modern feature Industrial Ecology III
Managing eco-design 2: of environmental technology California, USA
online conference Dusseldorf, Germany ✉ Brian West
Textiles, design and environment: ✉ Mr Herwig Bertelmann/ Future 500
online conference Ms Kerstin Kluth Doppersberg 801 Crocker Road
Towards Sustainable Product Wuppertal Institute for Climate, Sacramento
Design 2: online conference Environment, Energy CA 95864
19 d-42103 Wuppertal USA
✉ Martin Charter Germany ✆ +1 415 331 6232
The Centre for Sustainable Design
✆ +49 2022492 192 fax +1 916 486 5990
The Surrey Institute of Art and Design
fax +49 202 2492 108 email:
Falkner Road
30 April – 2 May 1998
Surrey GU9 7DS
13 March 1998 Environdesign 2
✆ +44 1252 892772 Update of environment California, USA
fax +44 1252 892747 legislation – packaging seminar ✉ Peggy Thorsen
email: Manchester, UK 350 Calle Principal
✉ Jacquiline Warton Delmonte Boulevard
26 February 1998 PIRA International Monterey Marriott
Product design implications Randall Road Monterey
of draft directive on electronics Leatherhead CA 94940
waste conference Surrey KT22 7RU USA
Surrey, UK UK ✆ +1 561 627 3393
✆ + 44 1372 802000 fax: + 1 561 694 6578
✉ Martin Charter fax +44 1372 802238 email:
The Centre for Sustainable Design
email: training _services @ pira. co. uk
The Surrey Institute of Art and Design
May 1998
Falkner Road
17 March 1998 Next generation eco-design
Surrey GU9 7DS Clean technology workshop tools workshop
UK Vancouver, Canada Surrey, UK
✆ +44 1252 892772 ✉ Stuart Forbes ✉ Martin Charter
fax +44 1252 892747 Canadian Centre for Pollution Prevention The Centre for Sustainable Design
email: 265 North Front Street The Surrey Institute of Art and Design
Suite 112 Falkner Road
2–6 February 1998 Sarnia ON N7T 7X1 Farnham
Life cycle approaches: improving Canada Surrey GU9 7DS
environmental performance ✆ +1 519 337 3423 UK
programme fax +1 519 337 3486 ✆ +44 1252 892772
Surrey, UK email: fax +44 1252 892747
✉ Mrs Penny Savill 7–8 April 1998
Course Secretary
Eco textile 98: Sustainable 2–4 June 1998
Centre for Environmental Strategy
University of Surrey Development ET ’98
Guildford GU2 5XH Bolton, UK Birmingham, UK
UK ✉ Professor Richard Horrocks ✉ Joanne Bowyer
✆ +44 1483 259047 Faculty of Technology Reed Exhibitions
fax +44 1483 259521 Bolton Institute Oriel House
email: Deane Road 26 The Quadrant
Bolton BL3 5AB Richmond
UK Surrey TW9 1DL
✆ +44 1204 900123 UK
fax +44 1204 900125 ✆ +44 181 910 7928
email: fax +44 181 910 7989



17–21 June 1998 26–28 August 1998 30 September – 2 October 1998

1st International Factor 4+ NordDesign ‘98 Environmental engineering and
Congress and Trade Fair Congress Stokholm, Sweden management conference
Klagenfurt, Austria Prof. Jan-Gunnar Persson Barcelona, Spain
✉ Jan-Dirk Seiler ✆ +46 8 7907868 ✉ Liz Kerr
Presidential Office Ph D. Kjell Andersson Conference Secretariat
Wuppertal Institute for Climate, ✆ +46 8 7906374 Wessex Institute of Technology
Environment and Energy Ashurst Lodge
Jesper Brauer
19 d-42103 Wuppertal Ashurst
✆ +46 8 7907447
Germany Southampton SO40 7AA
✆ +49 202 2492 102 ✉ Royal Institute of Technology UK
fax +49 202 2492 108 Department of Machine Design ✆ +44 1703 293223
email: SE - 100 44 Stockholm fax +44 1703 292 853
✉ Dr Bernhard Erler fax +46 8 20 22 87
Klagenfurter Messe Betriebsgesellschaft
email: October 1998
Messeplatz 1 Managing eco-design 3 conference
16–18 September 1998
9021 Klagenfurt London, UK
5th international seminar
on life cycle engineering
✉ Martin Charter
tel +43 463 56800 61 The Centre for Sustainable Design
fax +43 463 56800 39 Stockholm, Sweden
The Surrey Institute of Art and Design
email: Prof. Jan Gunner Persson
Falkner Road
✆ +46 8 7907868
July 1998 email:
Surrey GU9 7DS
Towards Sustainable Product UK
✆ +46 8 7907497
Design 3 conference ✆ +44 1252 892772
Surrey, UK fax +44 1252 892747
✉ Martin Charter/Anne Chick ✉ Department of Machine Design email:
SE-100 44 Stockholm
The Centre for Sustainable Design
Sweden 26–28 October 1998
The Surrey Institute of Art and Design
✆ +46 8 202287
Falkner Road Green Building Challenge 98
Farnham Vancouver, Canada
23–25 September 1998
Surrey GU9 7DS
Euro Environment 98
✉ Nils Larsson
UK Green Buildings Information Council
✆ +44 1252 892772 conference and exhibition
13th Floor
fax +44 1252 892747 Aalborg, Denmark
580 Booth Street
email: ✉ The Conference Manager Ottowa
Aalborg Congress and Kulter Centre Ontario
2–3 July 1998 Europa Plads KIA 0E4
Eco-management and PO Box 149 Canada
auditing conference DK 9100 ✆ +1 613 769 1242
Sheffield, UK Aalborg fax +1 613 232 7018
✉ The Conference Manager ✆ +45 99 35 5555
ERP Environment
fax +45 99 35 5580
POP Box 75
West Yorkshire
BD17 6EZ
✆ +44 1274 530408
fax +44 1274 530409



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Issue 5: 17 March 1998
Issue 6: 17 June 1998
Issue 7: 11 September 1998


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The Journal of
Sustainable Product Design

5 Editorial
Martin Charter and Anne Chick, Editors, The Journal of Sustainable Product Design

7 Learning from the introduction of green products: two case
studies from the gardening industry
Annica Bragd, Research Assistant, Gothenburg Research Institute,
University of Gothenburg, Sweden
18 Sustainable design: re-thinking future business products
Colin Beard, Lecturer, School of Leisure Management, Sheffield Hallam University,
UK, and Rainer Hartmann, Consultant, HCS Consulting, Germany, and Visiting
Lecturer, Sheffield Hallam University, UK
28 Sustainability by design: new targets and new tools for designers
Ursula Tischner, econcept, Ecology and Design Consultancy, Cologne, Germany

38 Professor William McDonough, Dean of School of Architecture,
University of Virginia, US
Martin Charter, Joint Coordinator, The Centre for Sustainable Design, UK

40 Metzzo

42 A design tool for eco-efficient products
Jonathan Williams, Director, Group for Environmental Manufacturing, UK
and Calum Morrison, Project Manager, The Planning Exchange, Scotland
47 Moving companies towards sustainability through eco-design:
conditions for success
Professor Dr Ir A L N Stevels, Senior Advisor Environmental Engineering,
Environmental Competence Centre, Philips Sound & Vision, the Netherlands

O2 news
56 Special feature: O2 Japan
Edited by Sytze Kalisvaart, Chair of O2 Global Network, Product designer,
TNO Industrial Technology, the Netherlands, Fumi Masunda, Liaison Officer,
The Centre for Sustainable Design
O2 Japan, Director of Open House, Japan, and Misato Yomosan, Product
Planner, Japan

an initiative of 60 Review
The Surrey Institute
of Art & Design 64 Diary of events