domingo, septiembre 03, 2006

Ecodiseño, estado del arte: Europa

Dentro de los cuestionamientos que se plantearon, se encuentra el encontrar, que se está haciendo en el mundo frente al tema de sostenibilidad, y productos sostenibles; con miras a responder éstas inquietudes, encontré una página del centro para el diseño sostenible (The centre for sustainable design),, en donde se encuentran diferentes artículos sobre el tema en cuestión.

En éste texto, me centraré principalmente en un estudio hecho por el “Institute for Prospective Technological Studies (IPTS)”, y el observatorio de tecnología de europa (The European Science and Technology Observatory (ESTO)), que se llama Eco-design: European state of the art, Part I: Comparative analysis and conclusions

Los siguientes son fragmentos del estudio que pienso que son importantes:

“In general, countries such as Denmark, Germany, the Netherlands, Austria and Sweden are clear front-runners as regards method development, dissemination and education in the field of eco-design.

As for actual environmental product design, it appears that some large multinationals address the issue in a rather comprehensive way, particularly in the fields of electrical and electronic goods, motor vehicles and packaging. For these firms, it is obvious that in their product innovation process they cannot focus on economic and market aspects only, but have to pay equal attention to environmental (and social) aspects related to their products from a life-cycle perspective. They see them as strategic issues that may have an influence on their competitive edge. These firms represent the factual best practice, which consists of:

-A clear management commitment to a sustainable environmental product policy;

-Implementation of responsibilities with regard to eco-design in procedures;

-The availability of experienced eco-design staff, tools, manuals, and databases that support the practical eco-design processes.

In several cases, functional innovations require rather radical different production structures. Where firms like Shell, Philips or Toyota may still be large and flexible enough to adapt — or even embark on functional innovations to create competitive advantages — many firms may discover that functional innovations mean the end of their current business. Hence, one may question the extent to which a policy merely aimed at stimulating eco-design at individual firm level will lead to above incremental environmental product improvements.

Both the Ernst & Young/SPRU study and the workshop results suggest that the following elements could be relevant in a future EU policy (EU, 1998):

1. broad access to environmental information on products for all stakeholders (e.g. through eco-labels, databases, independent product surveys);

2. a bigger and stable market for environmentally improved products, for example by greening public procurement, the use of economic and fiscal regulatory instruments, etc.;
3. greening of product standards, implying further cooperation of the EU with the relevant standardisation bodies;

4. pilot projects for selected product areas, with participation of all major stakeholders and the use of all relevant regulatory tools;

5. environmental agreements, being a way to extend cooperation with industry in achieving environmental targets;

6. a clear policy statement with mid- and long-term goals, based on the concept of
sustainable development.

A group of frontrunner countries (particularly Denmark, Germany, the Netherlands, Austria, and Sweden) are advanced in method development and rather advanced in education and dissemination. A second group of countries (e.g. Belgium, France and Italy) started somewhat later with these activities and are, in general, a bit less advanced than the front-runners. Finally, there are some Member States where there are virtually no activities with regard to eco-design. It has to be noted these are generic characterisations, which do no justice to individual cases. In some of the countries where eco-design in general is less advanced, we found individual companies or institutes which belong to the front-runners in the EU.

Most eco-design projects focus on the environmentally conscious redesign of existing products. Only on a very few occasions has the eco-innovation of product concepts been seen (e.g. in Austria, Sweden). This fact, and the low implementation rate in companies, means that the environmental effect of eco-design is still low.

In terms of what is currently state of the art with regard to actual environmental product design, the most advanced firms show the following characteristics.

1. There is a clear management commitment to take sustainable development into account as an important factor in the company strategy. In the regular strategic assessments of a company’s activities and product portfolios, long-term sustainability demands are among the evaluation factors.

2. On a tactical level, responsibilities and activities related to responsible care, and product related environmental activities, are clearly embedded in a firm’s procedures (e.g. via a product-oriented environmental management system).

3. The firm has experienced staff, tools, manuals, and databases with environmental data available for use in the eco-design process. These are used in all relevant product development processes in a well-structured way.

4. In relation to point 1, there is not only room to embark on eco-redesign or incremental product improvements, but also to investigate functional innovations.”

A partir de lo leído, es claro el énfasis que se le da a la utilización de bases teóricas confiables sobre el tema y de datos mesurables, en un enfoque que va hacia el desarrollo de productos incrementales y no de nuevos desarrollos, es decir, hacia el rediseño de productos existentes, para lograr mejoramientos en el aspecto ambiental, que en su mayoría tienden a enfocarse sobre reducir procesos y cambiar o reducir la cantidad de material utilizado.

Silvia Lleras
Para más información el artículo completo se encuentra en .