Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Cut Costs: Become a more sustainable business and save your business money.

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For related resources, Design for Disassembly, Eco-Design, Environment and AD Technology guidelines related to this can be downloaded for free at:


Cut Costs

Become a more sustainable business and save your business money.

On this page

  • Choose which initiatives to sign up to for incentives and assistance
  • Consider your building design and energy supply
  • Think about the product life cycle of your products and services

Cut costs and increase market share

Use less and save money. Most of your savings will come from finding ways to reduce these three:
  • water
  • energy: electricity, gas and fuel use (which means cutting carbon dioxide and greenhouse emissions)
  • waste: recycle and use less materials.
Sustainability is best achieved by looking at all aspects of your business but if you don't have the time, focusing on one or two aspects of your business is a good start. If you want guided help visit the Grow Me The Money website.
While some of these ideas may cost initially, you should make your money back in the long term.

Sign up for the Energy saver incentive

The Energy Saver Incentive, also referred to as the Victorian Energy Efficiency Target scheme, is a Victorian Government initiative making energy efficiency more affordable and contributing to the reduction in greenhouse gas emissions.
Businesses selling or installing selected products and services that help households and selected businesses use less energy and reduce greenhouse gas emissions may be eligible to receive financial incentives.
The scheme operates by placing an obligation on liable energy retailers in Victoria to surrender a specified number of energy efficiency certificates every year. Each certificate represents a tonne of greenhouse gas abated. Revenue generated by accredited businesses through the sale of these certificates to liable parties enables accredited businesses to offer discounts and special offers on selected energy saving products and appliances installed at homes, businesses or other non-residential premises. The bigger the greenhouse gas reduction, the bigger the potential saving.
For a list of energy saving activities currently available under the scheme or to find out more visit the Energy Saver Incentive website.

Build or renovate using eco-smart building design and materials

Architects, builders and some trades (e.g. plumbers) offer specialist 'green' services and materials. Something as simple as a external paint with a thermal paint additive can cut 40% of the sun's heat, reducing your need to run expensive air conditioners. For more information visit our Environmentally friendly building page.

Replace your energy supply with accredited renewable 'green' energy

This can include solar or wind power you buy from your energy retailer. Eligible businesses buying small renewable energy generators, such as solar, hydro or wind systems, will get Renewable Energy Certificates (RECs). The credits in the certificates can be used to cut the cost of installing the system. Run by the federal government clean energy regulator, visit the Clean Energy Regulator website to find out more.

Design products with their entire life cycle in mind

'Eco-design' and 'life cycle design' considers all the raw materials and energy used to manufacture, distribute and use a product to the end of its life. Sustainability Victoria offers useful resources on Lifecycle management
For related resources, Design for Disassembly, Eco-Design, Environment and AD Technology guidelines related to this can be downloaded for free at:

ISRI 2014 Convention: Economics at issue

Economics is always an issue when it comes to motivating solutions. Ideally then, we all want to deliver economically viable solutions to provide beneficial outcomes. But this is much more difficult than it would appear.

So everybody knows this. The key is to make the conditions favourable to deliver market solution answering to this. In the ISRI 2014 Convention however, we see that problems have arisen from the lack of drivers to recycle electronics economically.

This leads us to a couple of conclusions. Since the legislation demands electronics be recycled, then it is left up to the recyclers to find a way to make this happen. If the costs however are not covered with a small profit to drive this environmentally beneficial action, then legislation is either helping or hindering if that is the result. So either legislation is not well thought through, redundant or requiring further legislation to assess these market dislocations. I'm not arguing the existence of legislation in the first place (whether it's good or bad), but rather, the unintended consequences as it has turned out.

And that is where we put in the word "DESIGN". If products were designed to make this event of consumer electronics recycling more cost efficient, then perhaps all sides would be more able to sustainably recycle the goods.

And from there, more good will make more good.

For related resources, Design for Disassembly, Eco-Design, Environment and AD Technology guidelines related to this can be downloaded for free at:

Home News ISRI 2014 Convention: Economics at issue

ISRI 2014 Convention: Economics at issue

Electronics recyclers say EPR legislation has had a negative effect on their businesses.
Recycling Today StaffAPRIL 22, 2014
A panel of electronics recyclers discussed various issues facing the industry in the Spotlight on Electronics session Tuesday, April 8, at the Institute of Scrap Recycling Industries Inc. (ISRI) 2014 Convention & Exposition.
The panel, moderated by Jim Levine of Regency Technologies, with operations in Ohio, Atlanta and Chicago, featured Joe Clayton, vice president of sales and marketing for MRP Co., headquartered in Hunt Valley, Md.; Dag Adamson, president and founder of Lifespan Technology Recycling, Newton, Mass.; and Craig Boswell, president and co-founder of Hobi International, Batavia, Ill.
Levine began by raising the issue of glass from CRT (cathode ray tube) devices, saying, “Everyone thinks it’s going to go away some day, but it keeps coming and coming.”
Clayton said the only thing lacking when it comes to processing CRT glass is the willingness to pay for the service, adding that the capacity exists to handle the material that is being generated.
Boswell also said he saw the problem as an economic one, adding that recyclers have gotten into trouble because they did not adequately price for handling this material. He said the charge is now built into the pricing model in the business-to-business environment. 
Regarding OEM (original equipment manufacturers) contracts, however, Clayton said this was not always the case. “I walked away from an OEM contract because it didn’t pay me enough to do good,” he said.
His response led to a follow-up question on the effect that EPR (extended producer responsibility) legislation has had on the industry.
Adamson said such legislation has resulted in OEMs searching for processing partners based on cost rather than value. He added that Lifespan has walked away from municipal contracts in multiple states because the economics were “just not there.”
Levine added that OEMs were “forced” into this approach and are not happy about paying to recycle material that is 15 to 20 years old. “They do their weight limit and not much more,” he said.
As a result of EPR legislation, Levine added, recyclers have become the “bad guy” when they have to charge to process material. “How did recycling get a bad reputation?” he asked. “I don’t know how we ended up being the bad guy.”
Boswell said the purpose of the legislation was to get OEMs interested in their products at the end of their useful lives, forging relationships between OEMS and recyclers.
Adamson added that design for recycling is a key component of EPR regulations, saying results have been seen in this area.
Boswell added that many of the issues related to EPR for electronics have arisen from the implementation of these laws and not from the concept of EPR itself.
“The biggest problem with EPR is the huge leakages that no one is looking at,” Clayton said. “Freight costs are eating up a lot of money because OEMs only want to talk to the largest [recyclers.]”
Levin added that recyclers did not have a seat at the table when many of these laws were drafted. “We need to get a seat at the table.”
Despite these difficulties, Boswell said he still finds electronics recycling a great industry “because you can still bootstrap it.”
Clayton added that the industry is not “one size fits all,” adding, “everything is specialized and yet still wide open.”
Adamson described electronics recyclers and his business in particular as “green capitalists.” He said, “We are making money every day by doing the right thing.”
The ISRI 2014 Convention & Exposition was April 6-10 in Las Vegas at the Mandalay Bay Resort & Casino. 

For related resources, Design for Disassembly, Eco-Design, Environment and AD Technology guidelines related to this can be downloaded for free at:

Thursday, April 24, 2014

First Steps 2: Checklist: Designing Sustainable Products

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For related resources, Design for Disassembly, Eco-Design, Environment and AD Technology guidelines related to this can be downloaded for free at:


Checklist: Designing sustainable products

Know and implement processes for environmentally conscious product design

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  • Make intelligent sustainable choices early in the design process to reduce your overall environmental impact
According to the United States Environment Protection Agency (EPA), 70-80 per cent of a product’s environmental impact is locked in during the design and development stage. By investigating the potential impacts of your product and then finding ways of reducing these issues through eco-design, you can create functional, aesthetically pleasing and successful designs without locking in unnecessary environmental impacts.

Identify key outcomes in the design and concept development process

Decisions made here impact upon the entire design process and the environmental impacts of the job.Ask the client to identify in the brief the most important to the least important items so you can accommodate these with eco-preferences. In responding to a brief provide the client with an eco-design option to consider.
Consider the impact of your product throughout its life cycle - can design solutions be developed to make it last longer, use less materials or totally recyclable?

Produce prototypes sustainably

Develop prototypes that can be modified if design changes are made to reduce the amount of prototyping required. Prototyping until you are happy with the design is a better approach than having to mass produce it more than once because the design is changed slightly

Selection of materials

Select low impact materials that will promote longevity in your product.Avoid coupling materials that cannot be recycled. Preference materials that can be recycled in the country the product is intended for. Use design techniques such as honeycombing to reduce the amount of material used.

Reduce inefficiencies in manufacturing, packaging and transportation

Select manufacturers who have environmental management certification systems in place.Try to ‘close the loop’ by reusing waste materials and minimising virgin material inputs. Ask suppliers to provide you with environmental information and look for those that have a low environmental impact.
Flat packing your products reduces cargo space and the cost of transporting them.Choose recycled materials for packaging products that can in turn be recycled. You can also talk to sustainable packaging designers about new packaging options. Think about ways to reduce the amount of packaging and still protect the product.

For related resources, Design for Disassembly, Eco-Design, Environment and AD Technology guidelines related to this can be downloaded for free at:

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

First Steps: Environmental Impact Reduction, Eco-Design and Sustainability Strategies.

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For related resources, Design for Disassembly, Eco-Design, Environment and AD Technology guidelines related to this can be downloaded for free at:

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  • Know the environmental impacts of your product
  • Design products with the environment in consideration
  • Reduce the environmental impacts of your design and sourcing process

Designing sustainable products
Source, design, and create products that are environmentally friendly.

Reduce your environmental impact

When designing your products, considering the environmental impacts of the whole lifecycle of that product is known as eco-design. Eco-design not only improves the environmental outcomes it may also reduce your costs in the long term.

What are the impacts?

The design and creation of products can require the extraction of natural resources, manufacturing, transportation and waste disposal at the end of life. As a product goes through these stages, energy and water are used, and waste, pollutants and greenhouse gas emissions are created. The impacts are outlined below.

Resource extraction and manufacturing

The extraction of natural resources – whether through mining, harvesting or land clearing – generates carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions, uses water and land, and produces waste products that have to be disposed of in the environment. Transforming materials into products often requires complex manufacturing systems and this means there is a need for resources such as energy, water and materials, which will all contribute to the product’s environmental impacts.  Generally, the main impacts of manufacturing are due to the energy used to create the product and the emissions (air, water and waste) generated during the process.


Transportation is vital yet it also causes environmental impacts. The biggest issue is the production of carbon dioxide which contributes to climate change. Generally, products that are distributed by road or air have a larger impact than those transported by sea or rail. One issue with transportation is weight and wasted space.

Product use

Additional energy, fuel, water, cleaners, covers, attachments or other materials required for a product to achieve its function (for example, razors are pointless without blades) must be included in eco-design considerations. If a product needs services or other extras during its life, then these must be considered, as they will contribute further to the product’s environmental impact.  Both function and form – efficiency and quality – are important factors when considering a product’s use impacts. Durability and extended product life can reduce the impact of replacement and disposal, which links back to material selection, as discussed above. Equally, if the look and feel of a product is part of a passing fad, or the product isn’t convenient or effective, then even if it is durable it may not last long and be quickly replaced.

End of life

Will the product go into landfill or will it get recycled? While it may be impossible to know, eco-design can make recycling easier and landfill less damaging. If your product has to be thrown away (for example, the packaging) then make sure that it is more likely to be recycled. As a general rule, it is best to avoid organic materials (such as wood) going into landfill, because in a landfill site the materials are not exposed to oxygen and so, instead of disintegrating, tend to mix with other substances and produce methane, a potent greenhouse gas.

Tips to design products that reduce environmental impacts

By investigating the potential impacts of your product and then finding ways of reducing these issues through eco-design, you can create functional, aesthetically pleasing and successful designs without locking in unnecessary environmental impacts. There are a number of ways you can design your products so they are sustainable, here are some tips:
  • think eco-fibre: choose a fabric that will enhance durability and longevity, suit functionality, and allow for low impact maintenance
  • less is more: reduce the ecological footprint of your product by designing patterns to use up as much of the fabric as possible. Also reduce hems and seams etc. where possible.
  • think life cycle: try to find innovative ways of reducing the impacts of your product throughout its life, from packaging to the washing and care, and end of life
  • label it: labels are an essential part of a garment and a great way to communicate eco-options to consumers
  • make it last: select materials and design styles that will promote durability and longer use of the garment
  • enhance recyclability: select materials that can be easily recycled, or design your product so it has timeless style.
  • be efficient: select manufacturers and production processes that are energy efficient, use green, renewable energy and make efforts to reduce inputs such as water and chemicals.
  • look for certification: ask your suppliers, manufacturers and contractors to provide you with independently verified certifications 
  • make it multifunctional: encouraging customers to do more with less through multifunctional design promotes overall environmental benefits
  • zero waste: find ways of using offcuts, scraps and damaged stock so that it minimises waste to landfill.
  • offer a service: why not take your product back or let customers trade it in when they are finished with it? Then you can re-construct it into something new or donate it to charity? By offering a full service you can guarantee a closed loop – and your clients will keep coming back!
  • reduce your VOCs: Volatile Organic Compounds are the funny smell you get from dyes and inks, and they are potent greenhouse gases so check with your supplier.

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Eco-Innovate SME Guide

Designing from the onset is the most effective way to accomplish a successful eco-design strategy. Taken from a report 'Eco-Innovate SME Guide' published:
18 Mar 2013, Eco-innovate! A guide to eco-innovation for SMEs and business coaches.

Here is a snippet of how to consider eco-design in 'New Product Development' (NPD).

For related resources, Design for Disassembly, Eco-Design, Environment and AD Technology guidelines related to this can be downloaded for free at:


Eco-design is the integration of environmental considerations into product design and development that aims to improve performance throughout the product,s life cycle. Most environmental impacts can be effectively avoided at the design stage. Proactively addressing sustainability issues at the “front of the pipe” will therefore generate most benefits. For instance, design specifies which materials and to some extent which production methods will be applied. It also affects the potential reuse, recycling or disposal, as well as the indirect impacts from distribution of new products.

Key challenges for your business:

• Design may be performed by product designers, design engineers, consultants or can be completed by other technical or business functions as part of other responsibilities.

• In smaller companies design, market research and R&D may be fairly closely integrated. When this is not the case, activities like the evaluation of alternative technologies, competitor products and product concepts, and environmental performance criteria need to be closely connected to establishing the design brief and informing designers’ decisionmaking.

• Tackling single product attributes such as recyclability, biodegradability or energy-efficiency may not mean that a product has a lower environmental impact overall. A more thorough life-cycle approach is necessary to manage trade-offs, where one attribute of a product, such as the use of an energy-intensive material, is counter-balanced by another, e.g. may create better or worse resource efficiency of the product. A common challenge is to cost-effectively calculate environmental impacts for designs which are not fully-specified and decide on trade-offs between different types of environmental impacts, e.g. C02 emissions versus scarce resource depletion versus toxic material dispersion—expert judgements may be needed.

• Radically new solutions may demand an unfamiliar degree of creativity applied alongside the systematic life-cycle approach, with inspiration possibly not easily available internally.

• Existing process development and production resources may limit what is possible
internally or externally.

• Communicating data or information on a product’s environmental impacts is not always a strong motivator for customers or users to change behaviour e.g. reduction in energy in the use phase. Designers may choose to explore user-centred design approaches to help customer and/or users reduce their environmental impacts.

Key questions: 

• What product design options are there to improve the environmental performance of

• What is the potential to extend product life and reuse, remanufacture, repair, upgrade or
recycle all/part of the product? Are parts separable?

• Can less material and fewer material types be used, or materials substituted for alternatives
with less impact e.g. recycled/recyclable?

• Can any energy, water and consumables used by the product in use be reduced, or substituted for those with less impact?
(see EcoDesign Checklist, page 44 of the Eco-Innovate SME Guide)

• What data and tools are available to assess the (quantified) environmental impacts in each stage of the product life cycle at the design stage? Does using these tools require training or external expertise to ensure results are accurate and understandable?

• What product design features or user-information will enable low-impact behaviours? Are materials marked, also with recycling information?

• Can design enable lower impact production e.g. production consumables?

• What expertise is needed for eco-design? Can it be built internally or contracted? Which phases of development, e.g. prototyping, are best done externally?

Business case for eco-innovation

• Identify the appropriate focal areas of ecodesign for your products and services. For example, Philips—as an electronics company— explores opportunities to improve product-related environmental performance in six focal areas: reduced weight, increased energy efficiency, reduced packaging, increased recyclability, substitution of hazardous materials and increased longevity.

• Agree and apply appropriate eco-design improvement strategies to products and apply design focus areas e.g. energy, water, packaging, recycling and lifetime reliability.

• Add environmental criteria to product design and evaluate comparable, working prototypes with customer representatives to confirm the likely environmental performance related to typical user-behaviour. Similarly, define environmental validation requirements taking into account both customer specifications and other potential failures.

• If eco-design expertise is not available inhouse, you may choose to train a designer, contract an external consultancy or partner with an appropriate university or technical school.

• Find suitable tools to assess (preferably quantifiable) predicted impacts and enable designers to learn how to compare alternatives during design.

• Stimulate creative approaches, diverse concepts and involve stakeholders/experts. Reward buy-in when eco-innovative ideas are implemented.

• Choose whether to pursue patents to protect the novel function, or registered designs to protect the novel and distinctive (non-functional) 3D form.

EcoDesign Checklist


How does the product system actually fulfill customer needs?
  • Dematerialisation
  • Shared use of the product
  • Integration of functions
  • Functional optimisation of product (components)

What problems arise in the production and supply of materials and components?
  • Clean/renewable/low energy content materials 
  • Recycled materials
  • Recyclable materials 
  • Reduction in weight 
  • Reduction in (transport) volume
What problems can arise in the production process in your own company?
  • Alternative production techniques 
  • Low/clean energy consumption 
  • Less production waste 
  • Few/clean production consumables
What problems can arise in the distribution of the product to the customer?
  • Reduction in weight
  • Reduction in (transport) volume
  • Less/clean/reusable packaging
  • Energy-efficient transport mode
  • Energy-efficient logistics

What problems arise when using, operating, servicing and repairing the product?
  • Low energy or cleaner energy consumption
  • Few/clean consumables
  • No wastage of energy or consumables
  • Reliability & durability
  • Easy maintenance & repair
  • Modular product structure
  • Strong product-user relation

What problems arise in the recovery and disposal of the product?
  • Reuse of product (components)
  • Remanufacturing/refurbishing
  • Recycling of materials
  • Safe incineration


Quick wins

• Creative approaches and focused improvement strategies help identify potential design improvement.

• Environmental criteria enable design evaluation and comparison e.g. with competitors— involving customers informs their relative importance.

• Tools for assessment help designers to directly inform their decision making.

• Decisions on patents or registered designs can help secure the value of designs.

“A checklist can act like a catalyst, influencing the way you think and design. Focusing on the environmental aspects of a product makes you start asking questions of suppliers and customers in the supply chain, and this questioning can drive innovation. The result of that can be products that give a real competitive edge, such as adding value in the supply chain, as we have done.”

“We know that the PCB is more easily disassembled to its component parts at its end of life, making it easier to recycle. It can now be disassembled with one screwdriver.”

John Simmonds, Managing director, Crawford, Hansford & Kimber

Good practice examples

C2C for sustainable design

OrangeBox used a ‘“cradle to cradle” approach to apply materials safe and suitable to recycle. The Ara task chair design, for example, achieves product light weighting through a mono-material backing unit, improved assembly an disassembly times and improved overall resource efficiency. Orangebox has set up a recycling centre at their site in Wales achieving a significant return on investment and reduction of materials sent to landfill. Orangebox has been actively embedding ecodesign for a number of years, involving all the company’s personnel from shop floor through to senior management.

Crawford Hansford & Kimber: a cleaner printed circuit board

Crawford Hansford & Kimber developed a "cleaner" printed circuit board (PCB) that is incorporated into equipment that interfaces with data loggers that is now in use in higher education around the world. The eco-design approach followed training around an eco-design checklist, developed by The Centre for Sustainable Design®, which prompted the use of new materials in the outsourced printed circuit board base; new track design; the reduction in the chemicals used in the production process; and the substitution of lead by organic silver in the soldering process. The entire new PCB was produced at no extra cost. The company soon used the knowledge it has gained in a new contract which it won partly because of its eco-design capabilities.

Learning Resources

• Granta Design, a Cambridge University spin-off, produced an Eco-design Guide for starters that offers an easy-to-understand overview of how to start with eco-design. 

• An established product eco-design checklist is available from TU Delft. design-methods/21-creating-a-design-goal/ecodesign-checklist

• The Eco-strategy Wheel may be used with ratings of performance to illustrate existing product, priorities for the new product and achievements. 

• The Mtrl Library presents information about the design qualities and properties of materials including biodegradable, recyclable, renewable.

• “Information Inspiration” supports ecodesign through combining information (materials, life extension etc.) and inspirational product examples: 

The EcoReport Tool is based on an assessment methodology for the eco-design of energy-related products. It is a cost-free tool for evaluating to which extent the products fulfill specific criteria of the Eco-Design Directive 2009/125/EC.the tool is based on an Excel application that calculates resource use and environmental impact of products and processes and to decide whether the product is energy-related or not for edge cases. It offers the option to analyze life-cycle impact per unit of product, from the extraction and production stages of the product through to use and end-of-life

The ECO-DESIGN Pilot and Assistant is an online eco-design guide for improving environmental performance and resource efficiency of different types of products (e.g. raw material intensive,transportation intensive etc.). The guide suggests appropriate eco-design measures for products that can be taken at different phases of product lifecycle. The tools based on a series of guiding questions and checklists.  

For related resources, Design for Disassembly, Eco-Design, Environment and AD Technology guidelines related to this can be downloaded for free at: