Environmental evaluation as part of the product development process

By Ann-Christin Pålsson & Ellen Riise

Since the mid-90s an environmental evaluation is an integrated part of the way of working for development of SCA hygiene products. The evaluation is performed at a specific decision stage in the development process of materials and products, and is performed using life cycle assessment (LCA).

Way of working

The evaluation consists of a comparison between the new concept that is being developed and a reference product. Depending on the complexity of the change, the evaluation can involve a full quantitative LCA or a more qualitative environmental evaluation.

The full LCA includes modelling of the full cradle to gate systems for the new concept and for the reference product. LCA:s are performed based on the ISO 14040 series of standards. The qualitative environmental evaluation is based on earlier experiences and knowledge from performed LCA´s about the specific type of change, for example if the development mainly concerns changes in shape rather than major changes in included materials.

The result from the environmental evaluation is reported to the product developer and team as input for the further development.

In addition to the result for the specific product, this way of working also gives a general knowledge build-up, and thus the knowledge generated is used as input in new product development projects.