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Ecodesign, toward new business models

Ecodesign is commonly seen as a gadget, whose objective is to buy an image of responsibility with recyclable materials. But this is basically missing the essential of a transformation process that ultimately makes it possible to build new business models, to perpetuate one's activity and to sell additional services.

So, what exactly are we talking about?

"Ecodesign is the integration of the environment from the design of a product or service, and at all stages of its life cycle.»1

  • The environment is a complex system that includes physical environments (water, air and soil), animals, plants and natural resources. These elements interact within a sensitive balance. Human activities, particularly industrial ones, have a negative overall impact on this balance: air,soil  and water pollution, waste and noise generation, degradation of natural areas, damage to biodiversity, which lead to climate change and the depletion of natural resources among other things.
  • The design of the product meets criteria of technical feasibility and cost control, as well as the expectations of potential customers.
  • The notion of product in its broadest sense includes both material goods and services. A product can therefore range from home vacuum cleaners to smart cities to websites. The best example of consumer goods which encompasses both object-service aspects alone is the connected object. A study by Gartner and Idate estimates that by 2020 the number of connected objects in circulation around the world will reach between 50 and 80 billion, making it necessary to ecodesign not only the object but also the services associated with it.

In other words, eco-designing a product means thinking about it in such a way as to reduce its environmental impact during the 5 stages of its life cycle: extraction of raw materials, manufacturing processes, transport, use and end-of-life.

Pioneering attempts often start from a company manager's desire to take responsibility for his activity and target the first three phases: material extraction, product manufacturing and transport.

1 Definition AFNOR, 2004

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