Eco-design in Environmental Management Systems
An increasing number of organisations are deciding to address eco design of their products. This is due to a range of driving trends such as market expectations, supply chain pressure and also legislation such as the Eco design for Energy related Products directive (ERP) 2009/25/EC. Organisations are also realising that other benefits such as lower manufacturing costs and improved competitiveness can result from carrying out eco design of their product and services.
While many organisations already address the environmental impacts of their business processes through an environmental management system such as ISO 14001 or EMAS they do not always satisfactorily address the impacts of their products and services through this route. Unfortunately ISO 14001 is site process centric and places little emphasis on product development activities or business planning, offering no help in deciding what is to be done once significant product environmental aspects have been identified.
In order to carry out eco design in a systematic and managed way, organizations need to identify appropriate activities and then have the necessary levels of competence and management structures to effectively carry out and manage these activities. Primary eco design activities take place within an organisation’s design and development area and it is here that the technical knowledge required in carrying out and managing eco design within the design function will reside. However when eco design is to be carried out under the umbrella of an environmental management system (EMS) such as ISO 14001, then the manager and operatives of the EMS must have an understanding of what these activities are and how they are to be managed and controlled. In this way the integrity of the EMS is not jeopardized and the environmental goals and objectives for the products can be achieved.
ISO 14006 is needed because no other single standard including ISO 14001 covers and relates the differing areas of knowledge and competency required for eco design within an EMS.
These areas of knowledge and competency are:
Assessment of the life cycle impacts of the products on the Environment and identification of appropriate design measures to reduce the adverse effects of these impacts
Management of the product design and development activity to implement these design measures
Fitting the eco design activities and the management of them within an EMS
The first two of these are likely to be situated within the design and development function but the third is clearly of major significance to the manager of the EMS and it is here where the guidance in ISO 14006 is primarily directed.
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