Eco-design and
supply chain management


Venue: DTI Conference Centre, London
28th June 1999

Organised by: The Centre for Sustainable Design, UK
with support from: Department of Trade and Industry
and the: Adapt programme of the European Social Fund



Val Herman,
Health Safety and Environment Co-ordinating Committee,
Federation of the Electronic Industry

Professor Martin Charter,
The Centre for Sustainable Design,

John Peel,
Managing Director,
Varian Medical Systems UK Ltd,

Carolyn Abel,
Head of Recycling Policy Section,
Environment Directorate,
Department of Trade and Industry,

Menno Nagel,
Senior Engineer,
Design for Environment,
Lucent Technologies,
Bell Labs Innovations,
The Netherlands

Professor Ab Stevels,
Senior Advisor, Eco-design, Philips Consumer Electronics,
Chair of Environmental Design,
Delft University of Technology,
The Netherlands

Professor Eric Billet,
Pro Vice Chancellor,
Brunel University,

Ursula Tischner,

Barbara Morton,
School of Management,

Eco-design and supply chain management at VMS UK
John Peel, Managing Director, Varian Medical Systems UK Ltd

  • Varian Medical Systems (VMS) founded in 1948
  • World's largest manufacture of radiotherapy equipment (66% world market sales)
  • 1450 employees worldwide
  • Manufacture in US, UK, Finland and Switzerland
  • VMS UK: 1995 - 'Mean, Lean and Green Machine' concept
  • VMS UK: 1997 - 14001 attained
  • VMS UK: 1998 - notice of 14001 requirements given to supply chain
  • VMS UK: Member of EMERG (Electronic Manufacturers Equipment Recycling Group)
  • Research: little known about sustainable design of high value, low volume products
  • 40K government grant enabled various eco-design achievements:
    • replacing fibre glass (non-recyclable) with aluminium (recyclable)
    • using fewer components
    • informing customers of plastic types used (to help with recycling)
    • customer information about recycling and re-use of components
  • VMS UK: 1998 - won Danish order based on ISO 14001 accreditation

New Developments
Carolyn Abel, Head of Recycling Policy Sector, Environment Directorate, Department of Trade and Industry, UK

  • An update on the proposed EC Directive on waste from electrical and electronic equipment will be presented including:
    • the eco-design elements of the Directive
    • the challenges for the UK
    • the possible timescale for legislation
  • There will be discussion over the eco-design element of DTI/DETR work on strengthening markets for recycled materials and products
  • An update will also be given on the UK Eco-efficiency Initiative (UKEEI), including the demonstration web site on

Eco-design survey: implications for component manufacturers and supply chain managers
Martin Charter, Co-ordinator, The Centre for Sustainable Design, UK

Sample: Electronic component suppliers, less than 250 employees based in Surrey and Hampshire (UK)

Methodology: Telephone interviews/semi-structered questionnaires

Timescale: 4Q 1998


  • Draft WEEE Directive (EC)
  • National WEEE Legislation
  • IPP discussion (GreenPaper Q4 1999)


  • Companies interviewed (end-users):
    • defence
    • industrial
    • automotive
  • Contracting out (manufacturing/product design)
  • Complex supply chains
  • Very low awareness:
    • environmental issues
    • WEEE Directive
    • eco-design
  • Draft WEEE Directive:
    • uncertain
    • long lead time
  • Lack of customer pressure
  • Action depends on:
    • environmental sensitivity (hazardous materials)
    • volume
  • 'Far East' issue: where are electronic components being manufactured?
  • Need for simple eco-design tools
  • Need to move component suppliers through ZBIA Model (of environmental awareness/action)
    • zero
    • basic
    • intermedicate
    • advanced (e.g. innovation - design for disasembly)
  • 'Chain of Uncertainty'

Environmental quality in the supply chain: more than requirements for hazardous substances and ISO14001
Meno Nagel, Senior Engineer Design for Environment Distinguished Member of Technical Staff, Lucent Technologies, Bell Labs Innovations, The Netherlands

At Lucent Technologies (an Original Equipment Manufacturer) environmental quality considerations are being integrated into Supply Chain Management (SCM) of procured semiconductors, printed circuit boards and connectors. The use of a set of sustainability and environmental quality principles will be an important element in each customer - supplier relationship. In this context an operational analysis of a production facility of FR-4 multi-layer printed circuit boards has been completed and an environmental performance tool has been developed. The environmental performance of a supplier is determined through 7 Environmental Load Elements (ELE):

  • material use
  • use of auxiliary compounds
  • water use
  • energy use
  • emissions
  • waste
  • packaging materials

To determine each ELE a set of questions has been created. The answers to these questions express each ELE with a fixed value. From the 7 ELEs, 7 environmental indicators are determined which describe the Environmental Performance Vector (EPV) of the manufactured printed circuit boards. The environmental performance is one fixed value, which gives an impression of the notional environmental quality of the procured printed circuit boards in relation to the customer - supplier. This environmental performance tool is being tested in production facilities in Asia Pacific, Southern Europe and the US. Such an environmental performance tool is applicable to a cost-effective supplier benchmarking worldwide. The notion of environmental quality should include Specific, Measurable, Applicable, Consistent and Traceable (SMACT) environmental performance.

Philips: a case study
Professor Ab Stevels, Senior eco-design advisor, Philips Consumer Electronics and Chair of Environmental Design, Delft University of Technology, The Netherlands

  • Environmental drivers:
    • customers
    • legislation
    • costs
    • quality
  • Industry approaches:
    • defensive
    • cost-driven
    • pro-active
  • Eco Vision - is a business-driven environmental strategy:
    • green flagships
    • x% products eco-designed in 1999
    • y% products eco-designed in 2001
  • Product environmental care:
    • internal needs:
    • positioning
    • organise the process
    • provide the tools
  • external needs:
    • standards
    • audit criteria
    • eco-labels
  • Sustainable product design will require higher levels of breakthrough
  • Eco-design message:
    • need new spirit
    • need new criteria
    • need more designing initiatives

Active Disassembly using Smart materials (ADSM)
Professor E. H. Billett and J. Chiodo, Pro-Vice Chancellor and Researcher, Brunel University

  • Electronic and Electrical Equipment (EEE) creates particular problems at 'end of life' because of the highly complex, intimate mixture of toxic and scarce materials contained in the waste stream.
  • Recognising that the levels of toxic materials entering the environment are unacceptable, the EU is proposing 'take back' legislation for Waste Electronic and Electrical Equipment (WEEE).
  • The ferrous metal industry (cars, white goods, etc) has a very effective recycling infrastructure centred around a generic, safe, automatic, cheap system that can deal with large amounts of non-toxic ferrous waste: 'the shredder'.
  • Current recycling of WEEE is largely based on low technology, hand separation of waste. This is relatively expensive, achieves poor levels of recycling and exposes the workforce to significant levels of risk. It is sometimes described as 'cherry picking'.
  • Existing alternatives to hand recycling, such as robotic disassembly, have made slow progress because of the exceptional diversity of the mixed WEEE stream.
  • What is needed is a generic solution for WEEE. The authors propose that 'Active Disassembly' can provide one such approach and that 'Active Disassembly using SMART materials' (ADSM) may provide the necessary technology.
  • The work at Brunel has concentrated on two particular SMART materials: 'Shape Memory Alloys' (SMA) and 'Shape Memory Plastics' (SMP). Both are relatively new materials characterised by a sudden change of shape at a well-defined trigger temperature.
  • Early results suggest that ADSM can be realised and that it can be implemented in stages.
  • Although ADSM was proposed in response to the unique problems of the electronics industry, it has the potential to complement the shredder technology to achieve a cleaner, more complete separation and recycling of other waste streams.

Eco-design Tools
Ursula Tischner, Director, ec[o]ncept, Germany

The paper presents the findings of a research project about eco-design tools and strategies, that ec[o]ncept has carried out on behalf of the German Environmental Federal Office in Berlin.

  • The context of ecology, design and the supply chain:
    • when eco-design is implemented it needs to take account of company culture (organisational aspects)
    • ecological aspects have to be integrated into the product development process (methodology)
    • analysis of the environmental performance of products and eco-design strategies should consider the whole product lifecycle from raw material extraction to 'end of life' management (lifecycle thinking)
  • The involvement of upstream (supply chain) and downstream ('end of life') actors are essential for the successful implementation of eco-design in a company. The more complex the product lifecycle, the more important it is to involve the suppliers and 'end of life' actors' knowledge (dismantling, recycling, disposal) in the development of eco-design strategies.
  • Small and medium-sized companies (SMEs) generally don't have much knowledge about eco-design and are not able to use complex tools like LCA (lifecycle analysis).
  • There are other useful and less complex tools for eco-design:
    • overview and classification of eco-design tools
    • strengths and weaknesses of the different tools
  • How can these tools be used to optimise environment-friendly supply chain management?
    • pressure or partnership?
    • communication along the product lifecycle/workshops/checklists
    • some examples for current practice in Germany show that it can be done.
  • Conclusion:
    • there is a need to act
    • it can be done
    • build up alliances
    • use pragmatic tools
    • start a project
    • if necessary involve external consultants


ETMUEL (Eco-design and tarining for manufacture, use and 'end of life' management for SME's)
Professor Martin Charter, Co-ordinator, The Centre for Sustainable Design, UK

  • 2 year programme
  • Funding: Adapt programme from European Social Fund
  • Research: indicated low environmental awareness
  • ETMUEL targets:
    • SME's (electronics)
    • Large (supply chain partnerships)
  • * Development of:
    • free resource material
    • free training
      note: corporate time needs to be recorded
  • Future
    • Euro-ETMUEL: (extension of ETMUEL to rest of EU and selected CEEE countries)

Environmental Supply Chain Forum (ESCF)
Barbara Morton, CROMTEC, Manchester School of Management, UMIST

  • Background to the establishment of the Forum:
    • Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) funded project
    • green supply as a mechanism for market-driven environmental improvement
    • report to ESRC February 1999
  • Key issues:
    • understanding customer requirements:
    • interpreting the environmental priorities of customers
    • beyond supplier environmental questionnaires
    • 'product environmental attributes declarations'
  • environment as a customer-facing issue:
    • moving from supplier questionnaires to dialogue with suppliers and to dialogue with customers and the implications of this move
  • environmental performance indicators for integrated supply chains:
    • looking beyond manufacturing in assessing environmental impact
    • the integrated supply chain as part of the product lifecycle management
  • 'contestability' of environmental claims:
    • an example from the healthcare products sector
    • when to be seen to be moving out of PVC - contrasting the approach of two major players
  • Recent developments in the North West region
  • Future activities of the Forum:
    • meetings covering
    • transport and the environment
    • product stewardship
    • forest products and certification
    • development of website
    • publications
    • point of contact for environmental supply chain management enquiries
    • developing network - contacts through ICLEI and in Malaysia, Hong Kong