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ECO DESIGN & GLOBAL ECOLOGY Analysis of eco-design practices



“Nobody can ignore the information on climate change. I am sure I am not the only one to think about the impact of global warming on my life, on our children life and on the future generations. There is a direct relationship between climate change,


energy consumption of appliances and the energy needed to operate our factories and our logistics systems. The challenge for Electrolux is able to integrate this reality into their business strategies and daily activities. We have the opportunity to be part of the solution rather than being seen as contributors to the problem.� Hans Strüberg President and CEO of the Electrolux Group

INDEX 1. 1


1. 2

Research method

1. 3

Evolution of Eco Design 3


Eco Strategies



1. 6





conomic growth began with the industrial revolution, has brought comfort to the western world whilst

regleting its sustainable development. The new century has shown, with continuous change of the geo-political landscape and the recent economic crisis, the unsustainability of such approach. The new challenge that the global market faces today is turning environmental problems into economic opportunities. Eco-design is the new design philosophy that is establishing itself in the industrial world, as an approach which acconts for a variable environment throughout their entire life cycle, to combine economic competitiveness and environmental sustainability. Over 80% of the environmental impact of a product is directly linked to decisions made in the idea stage (Thackara, 2006). The problem, however, must be placed in a holistic view that considers the impacts of these choices in all phases of the lifecycle, from production to disposal, distribution, use and consumption of the good. Sustainable development, in this sense must necessarily start from a design approach intends to minimise the resources required to develop the product, and to use renewable, bio-compatible and local sources. This report aims to describe methods adopted by Electrolux. A market leader in the household appliances with more than 40 millions of products sold annually to customer of more than 150 countries worldwide. As described previously, the choice of analysing Electrolux design process has been carried out by two factors: -

In Europe 30% of the total consumption of electricity is as a direct consequence of household appliances.

There is a direct relationship between climate change, appliances’ energy consumption and the energy needed


to operate in factories and in logistics systems (Hirschhausen C., 2012); -

Electrolux, anticipating the needs expressed in Rio de Janeiro and Kyoto, was already projected in the

creation and design of production processes that minimise energy, water and detergent consumption of goods. The report initially describes the short evolution phases of Eco Design in order to understand where we can place Electrolux in a theorical framework. The following is a description of each macro phase of the lifecycle design thinking created by Electrolux, emphasizing the importance of the various sub-phases that encompass environmental requirements to develop and achieve eco products. Finally the report will propose suggestions for further implementation of eco-design practice, highlighting the activities that can provide better results and to discuss the economic and logistical limitations of such strategies.


Research Method


New Concept Development Optimisation End-life system

Optimisation initial life-time

User Stage

0 7

Selection of Low Impact Materials



2 3

5 4

Material Use

Production Techniques

Distribution System

The report is based on the evaluation of strategies employed by Electrolux and the suggestion of future strategies with the application of the LiDS wheel analysis. It was necessary to use mainly secondary resources, as it can be proved throughout the paper, in order to deeply investigate the business practice. During the research phase numerous books related to solutions focusing on innovative planning and strategies applied by design companies were consulted, with extensive research in websites that addressed the use of eco-innovative solutions and technologies with low environmental impact. 


as ‘Designers, Visionaries and Other Stories: A Collection of Sustainable Design’ By Jonathan Chapman and Nick Gant, and academic papers including ‘The new environmentalists’ by Steve Lerner. For all the information DERXW(OHFWUROX[WKHFRPSDQ\ZHEVLWHVDQGUHODWHGSXEOLFDWLRQVZHUHUHTXLUHG7KHĂ€QDOVWUDWHJLHVSURSRVHG have been inspired from 7KHHFRGHVLJQKDQGERRNDFRPSOHWHVRXUFHERRNIRUWKHKRPHDQGRIĂ€FH and variRXVZHEVLWHVRQVSHFLĂ€FHFRGHVLJQDUJXPHQWV



Evolution of EcoDesign


co-design has deep historical roots. Before the Industrial Revolution, it was normal in many cultures:

furniture and commonly used products were usually made by local craftsmen using materials found on site. The founders of the Art and Crafts movementLQ(QJODQG  ZHUHDPRQJWKHĂ€UVWWRUHDOLVHWKHHQYLURQmental damage caused by industrialisation (Ĺ imek M, 2011). Concerned with the poor quality and environmental damage associated with mass production, designers undertook new methods for combining high productivity with low environmental impact, laying the foundations of the early modernist movements in Germany (Deutsche Wekbund and Bauhaus), Austria (the Secession and the Wiener Werskaette) and Netherlands (De Stijl). The modernists were moving by the concept that the shape of an object had to adapt to its function. A simple and standardised shapes facilitates the industrial production of goods of lasting quality goods at affordable price: saving energy and use of materials were therefore combined with functionalism and modernism. Marcel Breuer with lightweight tubular steel led to the famous Wassily chair and the chair B32. In his book Metal Supplies, in 1927, theorises the possibility of rationalising and standardising components, then distributing the chairs disasVHPEOHG LQ Ă DW SDFN SDFNDJLQJ ,Q WKH 8QLWHG 6WDWHV Richard Buckminster Fuller, proposed a model of sustainability in design. Fuller was the father of “Dymaxionâ€? - the term he coined for products that guaranteed the maximum EHQHĂ€WWRWKHPDQZLWKWKHPLQLPXPXVHRIPDWHULDOVDQGHQHUJ\


But for many the main pioneer of eco design was Victor Papanek, author of Design for the Real World, suggesting a connection between the process of GHVLJQDQGDWWHQWLRQWKDWZRXOGOHDGWRHFRORJLFDOGHVLJQVROXWLRQVZLWKHQYLURQPHQWDOEHQHĂ€WV)URPWKHŇŠV onwards, the various design trends have focused on particular aspects of optimisation in the coincidence of HFRQRPLFDQGRLOFULVHV,QWKHŇ‹VZDVWKHĂ€UVWDWWHPSWVWRVWXG\WKHGXUDWLRQRIOLIHRIDSURGXFWDQGLWVVXEsequent energy consumption. This effort resulted in the lifecycle thinking to analyze the product life from birth to disposal; not only the resources in terms of materials and energy used to produce them, but also the environmental impacts and problems related to disposal. A step foward was mabe by Ezio Manzini explaining that “The GHVLJQHUŇ‹VVSHFLĂ€FUROHLVQRWRQO\WKHWHFKQRORJLFDODVSHFWRIHFRORJLFDOGHVLJQWKHDELOLW\WRUHF\FOHEXWDOVRWR imagine new scenarios, with new criteria for a new quality of life which is suitablefor the environment,acceptable to society and attractive to our cultureâ€? (Ĺ imek M, 2011). In the white goods sector, a prominent character of the eco design movement is Stefano Marzano, Manager director of Philips, who introduced the new ‘High Design’ system. He wanted to innovate the historic design approach, with the new requirements that the customer and the companies must confront every day, responding to the needs of today and tomorrow. With this new added value, Philips aims to produce products that were always respectful of the environment through the introduction of an emotional value. Marzano has thus led to the design institute a strait bond between people and objects, challenging the consumer to become attached to the product by convincing him not to throw it and thus in increasing the life cycle of each product (Tiplady R., 2005). Electrolux - synergistically converging the previous theories, invested for the last 30 yearsLQWKHFRQĂ€JXration of new products and systems throughout its entire Lifecycle. The company launched a draft analysis of the impact of factories and a public environmental report for each factory in 1986. The commitment to the reduction of environmental impact and the mission to create sustainable solutions is clear as one of the core values of the company; this has allowed it to become the market leader in the white good sector.

Eco Straregies



n order to understand how eco-design has contributed to the success of Electrolux, it is therefore necessary

to understand how incremental and radical innovations are embedded in its design process at all the stages.

New Concept Development


The philosophy of the company relies on the fact that an household appliance must consume low levels of water, electricity and detergent. Rex Electrolux produces a range of products that are designed to use only eco-friendly materials, assembled so as to facilitate the disposal. Particular attention is paid in the design phase also for packaging materials. There are several strategies adopteded in this stage by Electrolux: PRODUCT FOCUS: Water conservation and attractive design are key factors for a succesful product. These are the main features of The Wave, designed by South Korean designer Kim Min Seok of Seoul National University of Science & Technology (Taylor D., 2011). It is a stain remover ecological portable ultrasonic technology able to identify the type of stain thanks to some sensors and to carry out the most appropriate washing, but also to communicate with the washing machine. Its main purpose is to minimize the consumption of water and detergents resulting from washing in the washing machine and those by hand, allowing to reduce their duration and to eliminate the step of stain removal. The Electrolux Wind Washer goes beyond this concept. Invented by the designer Hwang Jin Wook is an innovative dishwasher air with a water consumption negligible and not involving the use of soap. SERVICE FOCUS: In 1999 electrolux launched the project Pay per Wash that gives to the costumer a loan washing machine in the home, connected to a central database via the web. Paying only for the washing cycles, the cusWRPHUDIWHU\HDUVZLOOUHFHLYHDPRUHHIĂ€FLHQWDSSOLDQFH Electrolux Professional is a market leader of self-service laundries are able to provide professional and high quality product and service. The laundromat is an interesting opportunity for investment that the market offers to the buyer. For the optimization of the customer time and saving money is a valid reason to use the ODXQGURPDW7KHĂ H[LELOLW\RIRSHQLQJKRXUVDORQJZLWKWKHDELOLW\WRZDVKEXON\LWHPVOLNHFRPIRUWHUVTXLOWVUXJV DUHDGGLWLRQDOEHQHĂ€WVWKDWRQO\DODXQGHUHWWHFDQRIIHU


NEW STRATEGY: A well-known study of Procter & Gamble found that the life cycle of products has halved between 1992 and 2002 (Vaitheeswaran V., 2007). A trend that has also affected the domestic appliance sector, where the reduction of time for product development, has been acFRPSDQLHGE\DVLJQLĂ€FDQWVKRUWHQLQJRIWKHDYHUDJHOLIHF\FOH3HSsiCo has a broad base of consumers involved in product development through its DeWmocracy program. The site allows consumers to shape the taste, colour, name, logo and design of the next drink Mountain Dew (The Consumer Goods Forum, 2011). Similarly Electrolux could directly involve the consumer in order to understand what is expected to invest into a eco product and thus lengthen the life expectation of the product itself.

Selection of low-impact Materials


A strict policy in the selection of ecological and harmless always characterized the Group’s activities. With the European RoHS (Restriction of the use of Hazardous Substances), which prohibits the use of potentially six hazardous materials, Electrolux joins the internal regulations RML (Restricted Material List), which


expands the list of materials subject to restrictions. The Electrolux Group uses a supply network of over 4000 companies around the world. Electrolux has launched a program of monitoring and auditing of their suppliers in order to ensure that their environmental and social behaviors are consistent with the standards required by the Group, and introducing incentives to conduct environmentally sustainable. Particular attention is paid to areas of “low costâ€? less regulated by a regulatory point of view, such as China and Latin America, which are playing an increasing role in providing. “ Vac From The Sea is the new project launched by Electrolux with the aim of helping the removal of plastic waste from the oceans around the world. Currently, the range of the sector Green Floor Care, for the care RIĂ RRUVFRQWDLQVXSWRRIUHF\FOHGDIWHUXVHE\WKHFRQVXPHUEXWWKHODFNRIFHUWDLQW\SHVRIKLJKTXDOLW\ recycled plastic hinders the increase of this percentage in a greater number of products.


Material Use NEW STRATEGY:

Another important aspect that emerged directly produced and analysis of the lack of attention by Electrolux in the quantity of the materials used. Apple with each generation of the product reduce them in volumes. For example, the iMac 21.5 “ now is much more powerful and has a much larger VFUHHQRIL0DF¾ÀUVWJHQHUDWLRQDQG\HWKDVEHHQGHVLJQHGWRXVH less material and produces 50% fewer emissions of CO2 (Apple Inc, 2012). In the era of single living realities, Electrolux can create washing machines, refrigerators, and dishwashers specially designed for one person. In this way the consumption by the consumer, the savings of materials made and volume by the company, and the drastic reduction of the environmental impact would lead to an incremental strategy of success.

Optimisation of production techniques 3 93% of the 52 factories of the Electrolux Group, located throughout the world, has achieved ISO 14001 FHUWLÀFDWLRQ, which attests to the strictest environmental legislation in the factories and committed to a process of continuous improvement of the quality of their production processes . Possiamo anticipare come strategia l’estensione a tutte le aziende della compagnia. NEW STRATEGY: :HFDQWKLQNWRDSSO\WKH,62FHUWLÀFDWLRQWRDOOWKHIDFWRULHVRI(OHFWUROX[FRQFLRXVRIWKHOHJDODQG environmental restrictions applied by each country.






The packaging of certain devices could be manufactured, as seen by Puma, in order to be reused for another function in addition to the primary protection. It’s not new concept of using cardboard for the construction of furniture and household items.

User stage


Knowing the energy consumption of appliances on the PC, on the phone or directly on the appliance itself. All this may soon be available thanks to Energy @ Home, an innovative technological system integrated product that aims to create an integrated management system in which “smart appliancesâ€? are able to selfmanage and regulate the energy consumption of the entire house, avoiding peaks, overloads and also raising DZDUHQHVVIRUHQHUJ\HIĂ€FLHQF\



since more than 70% of household environmental impact is caused by their use. For consumers who are increasingly sensitive to environmental issues, Rex Electrolux also offers the possibility WRFDOFXODWHWKHVDYLQJVUHODWHGWRWKHUHSODFHPHQWRIROGSURGXFWVZLWKKLJKHIĂ€FLHQF\PRGHOVWKURXJKecosaving systems. This is an “online calculatorâ€? based on research carried out in 660 cities in 22 countries, which allows the calculation of saving water, electricity, carbon dioxide and money.

Optimisation of the end of life system


Electrolux is among the few companies that are committed to the recognition of producer responsibility in the management of “end of lifeâ€? of their appliances, and is one of the 4 founders of ERP (European Recycling Platform)WKHĂ€UVW(XURSHDQSODWIRUPIRUWKHPDQDJHPHQWRIUHF\FOLQJRIZDVWHHOHFWULFDODQGHOHFWURQLFHTXLSment, as covered by the WEEE directive (Waste of Electronic and Electrical Equipment). Electrolux claims that 80% of its large domestic appliances can be recycled, such as lavabian-dryers, recovering energy and saving resources. All Rex Electrolux appliances are made with materials and methods that encourage recycling. The ovens for example have an index of recycling that exceeds 90%.


co design strategies on a firms’ competiteveness are affected by different factors. The economic impact of these policies seems at first to be a limit on how much the company should invest on environmental costs, also that economics consider external costs for the company. Porter suggested that environmental regulation, especially the most innovative, can bring benefits to businesses especially if it contains sufficient incentive to change their production routines and stimulate technological innovations or processes (Cancila E., 2007). This increased attention to the environment would allow the firm to obtain, in addition a higher compliance and the best competitive performance thanks to lower costs induced by a lower utilisation of resources rather than from higher efficiency. This interpretation, known as the “Porter hypothesis”, argues that the effects of environmental policies on competitiveness will allow the company to acquire a sustained “competitive” advantage in the long term, this is enhacing productivity and profit. Electrolux is a company which confirms Porter's theory. This strong eco design strategy has been shown to be profitable. Data shows the eco products generated 3.8% higher profits than conventional goods (Owens H, 1998).



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eco design. Electrolux