Project developers : Product development / Quality /CSR
Partners : Purchasing / Suppliers

Setting the framework for the product eco-design initiative

The product categories concerned

Context and description

Eco-design is an ambitious initiative which must be an integral part of the product development process. All of the core businesses must be involved, from product design to shop delivery.

Integrating this initiative into your collections is a gradual process. You should begin by eco-designing a limited number of products which have been carefully prioritised. Product choice criteria are numerous: sales volumes, margins, complexity of the product, customer expectations etc.

It is therefore important to be properly guided and equipped in this initiative to enable these first "experiments" to not only raise awareness among your teams but also to clearly increase their capacities and subsequently enable them to ensure a wider deployment of the eco-design initiative within your product development process.

IMPLEMENTATION

Average

Complexity of implementation

High

Estimated economic gain

Low

Human means

18 months

Implementation timeframes

STAGES OF IMPLEMENTATION
Try it! : Follow the sheet step by step and have a go!
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  • To prepare the initiative find out about the stakes and stages of an eco-design initiative, as well as the main impacts of materials and processes (See Sheet: Try it!: Training my personnel in the stakes of eco-design). Also find out about concrete eco-design initiatives (See "They've done it!" page).

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  • List the main product families developed by the organisation and the quantities produced: jeans, coats, trainers, bed linen … and make an initial selection with a maximum of five product references as possible eco-design candidates (even if ideally you will only retain a maximum of three of them). Priority should be given to iconic products and the references with the highest sales volume, in order to maximise impacts (or why not new products with a high potential?). It is also important to consider permanent products or products which are renewed to ensure your efforts cover a longer period of time.

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  • Prepare a first set of basic data. For prioritised product references, identify the main stages of the value chain: place of production, main raw materials used, dyeing type (laser, printing, without water), possible finishes...

    In parallel, ask suppliers to send you more details on the manufacturing and components of these products, including the environmental dimension. The role of the supplier and of the partnership developed is essential for the success of the initiative.

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  • Look for existing life cycle analyses (LCA) which are as close as possible to the references you have prioritised, taking care to assess the comparability of the value chains concerned (See Cheat Sheet: Life cycle analysis: definition and examples).

    For the references of prioritised products for which no LCA is identified or for which the LCA is not close enough to the organisation's manufacturing processes, perform a first environmental analysis using the MIMS matrix (Multi-Impacts Multi-Stages) (See Tool 2).

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  • Evaluate the opportunity to ask a specialised consulting firm to carry out a simplified LCA bearing in mind that this implies a limited budget (less than €10k per product) if you collect the data yourself. This tailor-made solution presents numerous advantages: having a go at traceability via data collection, getting teams and partners involved in analysing possible eco-design lines and lastly, possessing a tailor-made study which can be communicated to teams and to the public (if you have ordered a critical review from a third party expert).

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  • Carry out an LCA on one or several product references (maximum of three to begin with if you don't have a dedicated team). Begin by collecting data on manufacturing processes from your partners. The consulting firm will carry out modelling and will conduct sensitivity tests on the main eco-design parameters in order to accurately measure the impacts (for example: impact of a change of material, components, or packaging, alternative supplier sourcing etc.).

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  • Launch the first eco-design initiatives. For every prioritised product reference identify the life cycle stages with the highest impacts with respect to the priority indicators (climate change, water consumption, eutrophication, land occupancy).

    Submit the analysis and results for discussion at a working meeting in order to assess the main eco-design levers with teams and possibly with the suppliers concerned. For example: more ecological main material, alternative components, eco-efficient processes (dyeing, cutting etc.), transport, product sustainability etc.…

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  • Propose a one year, a three year and a five year road map in order to reduce environmental impacts and which includes the eco-design solutions selected for the priority products along with a series of associated KPIs.

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  • Share these elements internally to initiate an approach to find eco-design solutions (See Sheet: Try it!: Steering my eco-design approach). Communicate on the KPIs and their evolution.

    Show, in a concrete and figured manner, the environmental benefits associated with this type of initiative.

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  • To go even further, extend the initiative to related products (from the same range) and industrialise certain levers for cross-functional actions on a wider basis (i.e. transport policy, packaging, material sourcing etc.). To get teams involved it is essential to invest in training and appoint project managers. A close dialogue with suppliers is also a key factor in the success of the initiative.

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Key indicators

- % of product references covered by an environmental analysis

- % of references having been the focus of eco-design measures

- % of impact reduction achieved thanks to eco-design

Watch point

Without external support, embarking on this initiative can be complex and time-consuming.

It is important to remain focused on the wider picture and not get lost in the data collection process.

To find out more

Tool 1 :Cheat Sheet-Life Cycle Analysis: definition and examples

Tool 2 :MIMS matrix (Multi-Impacts Multi-Steps)

Tool 3 :Ecolizer - OVAM design tool

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