Material efficiency means that a competitive service or product is produced by using fewer and fewer amounts of raw materials and natural resources, so that harmful effects for the environment are reduced for the entire life cycle of the product or service.
Material efficiency advantages:
Lower quantities of materials will be used, which saves costs
The use of non-renewable natural resources will reduce. These resources will be more expensive in future
Less waste will be produced and waste management costs will be lower
Less detrimental impacts on the environment
Better possibilities to meet stricter permit regulations
Motiva Oy's website contains a wealth of information for enhancing material efficiency in companies.
Motiva Ltd has been developing a material audit system that would improve companies’ material efficiency. The audit examines operations from product design to optimising resources and processes, as well as reducing waste. It determines possibilities for improving material efficiency and serves as a basis for suggestions on how to improve material efficiency.
Material audits (motiva.fi)
Environmentally conscious product design
Environmentally conscious product design and product development (DFE) means that companies strive to observe environmental issues in product planning. The basic idea is that environmental issues are observed in product design as a section alongside functionality, quality, cost efficiency and safety.
The goals of environmentally conscious product design include material efficiency in products and their manufacture, energy efficiency, extending product life cycles and improving recyclability, as well as minimising the use of environmentally harmful substances in products and manufacture.
You can consult various guidebooks and instructions on how to implement environmentally conscious product design. The International Organization for Standardization has published the ISO 14062 standard on integrating environmental aspects into product design.
Ecological requirements for product design (the ECoDesign directive)
The EcoDesign directive determines the ecological requirements for product design and development. The aim is to integrate environmental aspects and the life cycle approach into the product design phase. The directive promotes sustainable development by improving energy efficiency, the level of environmental protection, and the security of energy supply (Ministry of Economic Affairs and Employment). The directive pertains to those new energy-consuming products mentioned in paragraph 2 of Article 15.
The Life Cycle Assessment method (LCA)
The Life Cycle Assessment method is used to map the environmental effects generated during the entire life cycle of a product or service. Life Cycle Assessment can be used to compare the environmental effects of different products or services. Products are examined from the selection of raw materials all the way to final disposal. It can also be used as criteria for awarding ecolabels as well as for comparing different systems and production phases. Furthermore, Life Cycle Assessment can be utilised in product development, marketing and communications.
Life Cycle Assessment starts with determining the goals of the assessment. After this, raw material and energy needs are determined along with emissions and waste for the entire life cycle of the product. The data is compiled, conclusions are made and solutions sought for reducing the environmental effects of the product during its life cycle.
The International Organization for Standardization has created the standard series ISO 14040 to help with Life Cycle Assessment. ISO 14040 standards provide organisations with instructions on the principles and implementation of LCA, and on how organisations can reduce the environmental effects of their products and services.
Preventing waste generation
An environmentally responsible company