Adopting and applying eco-design techniques : a practitioners perspective
This paper discusses the findings of a small scale research project which explored the possibility of adopting eco-design techniques. The paper focuses on identifying how eco-design techniques can be determined as being compatible with new product development processes. Via the development of a five stage ‘applicability framework’, this study demonstrates how a compatible suite of tools can be identified for application to product development processes. Testing and validation of this ‘applicability framework’, which was used to identify three key eco-design techniques; namely checklists, guidelines, and a material, energy and toxicity (MET) matrix, is shown to have taken place in relation to the development of a lightweight chemical detector product. It is established that checklists, guidelines and the MET matrix can be used both on a specific product, and also more generally in the design process. In particular, the MET matrix is shown as being used to successfully identify key environmental aspects of the product during its lifetime. The paper concludes by arguing that eco-design techniques may not have been more widely adopted by businesses because such methods are not necessarily generic and immediately applicable, but instead require some form of process-specific customisation prior to use, which can in turn act as a barrier to adoption . It is also highlighted that the shear diversity of pressures that come to bear during the product development process can also act as a barrier to adoption, and that the full integration of eco-design techniques will have to encompass approaches which overcome such pressures.