We support evaluation and implementation of integrated product policies and management options for public authorities, NGOs, industry associations and individual enterprises.
Products play a key role in regulation and management aimed at reducing the total environmental impact, since very human activity – and consequently its environmental impacts – can be related to a certain need and the fulfilment of this need by material or non-material products. Product oriented policies seek to optimise the environmental performance of the total system of production, use, and disposal activities needed to provide the products.
For public environmental policy, product-orientation combine many different regulatory measures, such as economic instruments, substance bans, voluntary agreements, environmental labelling, and product design guidelines.
For individual enterprises, Integrated Product Management (IPM), also known as Life Cycle Management (LCM), is a management paradigm that takes optimisation of the product chain as its fundamental viewpoint.
- September 2023
The aim of this project for STOA was to evaluate the potential for an effective climate labelling framework and the preconditions for such labelling.
The aim of this project is to carry out a state of the art of the EEIO analyses applied to circular economy (CE) for ADEME (French Environmental Agency). A critical review is performed on the studies published in this area. The potential to reuse the advances from the research community is assessed.
- November 2022
This project placed each of the 169 targets of the 17 UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) into a comprehensive, quantified and operational impact pathway framework. This project is being continued in the LCSA project.
- December 2020
Consumers as well as professionals in the grocery and catering industry are increasingly demanding information about the climate footprint of the foods they buy or sell. This project will result in a public climate database of more than 500 foods.
- December 2020
An inventory including both a mass and energy flow analysis and a life cycle screening is performed for the region Northern Jutland. The inventory provides both a production perspective and a consumer perspective.
- October 2020
This project for Nordic Ecolabelling entails a review and assessment life-cycle based standards, methods and tools available for designers and producers of buildings and building materials.
- Marts 2019
An inventory including both a mass and energy flow analysis and a life cycle screening is performed for Kolding Municipality. The inventory provides both a production perspective and a consumer perspective.
- December 2018
The Danish Ministry of Defense wanted a life cycle-based environmental account covering all their activities in 2017. The results are two proprietary reports - a performance report and a method report.
- January 2018
Developing and applying an optimal set of indicators and models to analyse and monitor the European progress towards resource efficiency.
- May 2016
An Environmental Profit & Loss account (E P&L) was conducted by Arla Foods, the third largest dairy cooperative in the world, with the aim of documenting the total environmental impact of Arla Foods.
- April 2016
On the basis of an assignment from the Center for Construction this project aimed to uncover potentials and barriers in the use of wood in Danish construction.
- March 2015
This study estimated the effect of the Nordic ecolabels on apartment buildings, canteens and laundry detergents in a Danish context.
- October 2014
This project consisted of an industrial E P&L for the Danish apparel consumption conducted across three levels: industry, company/brand and product.
- April 2014
Data for the Global Resource Footprint of Nations. Carbon, water, land and materials embodied in trade and final consumption.
- March 2014
A new estimate of a Danish Carbon Footprint and a review of previous studies.
- February 2014
This project was a collaborative effort, looking into Novo Nordisk's value chain, leading to the first Novo Nordisk Environmental Profit and Loss Account (E P&L).
- January 2014
The purpose of this project was to provide an overview of DuPont N&H’s total CO2e emissions (the so-called organizational carbon footprint) to enable decision-making and prioritization in their environmental work.
- December 2013
The project looked at the socio-economic consequences of 7 environmental advices given by the government. The purpose of the project was to investigate the value if such advices are followed by the general public and to visualize the benefits of a personal effort to the society.
- May 2013
This project was initiated by the Danish green think tank Concito to assess the climate impacts of six different biofuels: wood pellets, wood chips, straw, biogas, ethanol and biodiesel.
- January 2013
The focus of this project was the implementation of the EU Directive 2005/32/EC on ecodesign requirements for energy using products (the EuP Directive) with special attention to the ecodesign requirements for televisions (TV).
- April 2012
In this project the methods and standards for calculating and challenges in using Carbon Footprint are investigated.
- May 2010
The project aimed at summarizing the steps, arguments and market data that are needed to identify the long term marginal supplier affected by a long-term change in demand for two types of kraftwood.
- November 2009
The objective of the FORWAST project was to forecasts the material stocks, waste amounts and related environmental impacts in EU-27 for the following 25 years under different scenarios of waste prevention, waste treatment and recycling.
- March 2009
CALCAS was aimed at identifying short-term, mid-term and long-term research lines on how to achieve a substantial efficacy increase in supporting sustainability decisions, going beyond the shortcomings and limitations of LCA at that time.
- November 2007
This project applies several novel elements at the same time, such as hybrid LCA, consequential modelling, rebound effects, social impacts, life cycle costs, analysis of synergies and dysergies, impact assessment with full monetarisation, temporal discounting, and policy feasibility assessment.
- June 2007 and closed 2017
The Holiwast Decision Support Tool was a web-based tool that allowed simultaneous comparisons of up to five stakeholder views or scenarios of municipal waste management policies.
- May 2006
The study analysed municipal solid waste treatment scenarios and provided data, methodological improvements, results and strategy recommendations for the new EU member states. The recommendations were generally applicable to municipal solid waste treatment.
- September 2005
EMAS is the EU's environmental management instrument, which is voluntary and is aimed at all types of businesses. EMAS stands for "Eco-Management and Audit Scheme". This project provided a database for Danish businesses with examples of management schemes.
- April 2005
The ERA-NET Sustainable Enterprise (SUSPRISE) project aimed to expand cooperation and coordination among national sustainability research activities across Europe by promoting networking between government programmes in this sphere.
- December 2004
- December 2004
The Background Report for a UNEP Guide to Life Cycle Management - A bridge to sustainable products was as a support to the UNEP Life Cycle Initiative and the UNEP Guide to Life Cycle Management.
- December 2004
The project “Prioritisation within the integrated product policy” established a detailed and well-documented method for prioritising product areas and groups.
- November 2004
The aim of the study “Environmental Impact of the use of natural Resources (EIRES)” performed for the EU commission DG-JRC, IPTS was to support the development of the EU “Thematic Strategy for the Sustainable Use of Natural Resources”.
- August 2004
The primary objective of the project was to promote a product-oriented environmental assessment of products from agricultural holdings. The project provided the basic prerequisite, namely environmental effects recorded per unit of product.
- June 2003
This study outlined the state of the art and provided a foresight study with three scenarios that differed with respect to the role assigned to the product-oriented approach – the life-cycle thinking. For each scenario, a number of development projects were proposed.
- March 2003
The purpose of this project was to test the implemention of a product-oriented environmental management system at all levels in a large bakery enterprise. Peter Senge's concept of a learning organization was an inspiration for the project.
- December 2001
In the study on “Product-oriented environmental policy for agricultural production” we identified the problem areas and the possible role of product-oriented policy measures.
How to model of indirect land use change (iLUC) in LCA? The iLUC Club develops and further refines a generic, simple and science-based model for including iLUC in LCA.
Product orientation as a management paradigm
Product orientation and life cycle orientation are synonyms, since the integrated optimisation of a product must necessarily consider the entire system of production and consumption, linked through product flows, i.e., what in environmental contexts has come to be known as “the product life cycle”. While the term “product chain” is more precise and thus preferable (also because the term “life cycle” has other connotations in biology and business economics), the synonym “product life cycle” is probably now so engrained that its use is hard to avoid.
In Product Life Cycle Management (LCM), also called Integrated Product Management (IPM), the life cycle concept is expanded beyond environmental issues, notably to management of economic costs and quality.
In an organisation, which is truly product or chain-oriented, each part of the organisation has its specific role to play in relation to the overall goal of optimising the products. Chain-oriented considerations are not isolated to specific programmes, but are embedded in the very organisational structure. Co-operation and information exchange among departments is an essential part of the chain-oriented organisation searching for overall, sustainable rather than local and short-term optimisations.
IPM develops and integrates of a number of techniques, which hitherto have been developed in isolation, such as Green purchasing, Life Cycle Assessment, Green marketing, Design for Environment, Total Cost Assessment. See also the paper “LCM – a synthesis of modern management theories” for a description of the links between the IPM (LCM) concept and other management concepts and tools. Besides this, new techniques and procedures are developed for each part of the organisation, as described below.
Why implement Integrated Product Management?
By looking beyond the company gates, IPM enhances the competitiveness of the entire product chain, by optimising both economics, quality, and environmental impacts throughout the life cycle of the products. In this way, a more sustainable competitiveness is achieved, also for the individual actors in the chain.
Developing the chain-oriented organisation
Due to the high number of items, which are typically purchased in a company, time seldom allows a detailed valuation of each item. It is therefore important to know which items have the largest chain impact, so the efforts can be focused there. To make sound purchase decisions, information is needed not only on the performance of different suppliers, but also on the further consequences of the purchased items in the product chain. The way the items are used in the production or in the final product may be much more relevant for the overall impacts than their upstream impacts. Trade-offs have to be made between environmental properties, quality and price as well as between upstream environmental performance and environmental performance later (downstream) in the product chain. Compared to an ordinary purchase department, the chain-oriented purchase department must have insight into the life cycle performance and life cycle costs of the different purchased items and play an active role both towards the suppliers and towards the rest of the company. The relationship to the suppliers may slowly be deepened to heighten the awareness, increase the information exchange and maybe to build alliances with especially chain-oriented suppliers.
Production with a chain perspective
The production departments play a key role in collection of data from the production itself, in generating new ideas and in carrying out improvement programmes. Often, the production departments are also responsible for the local environmental issues, including occupational health. Neighbours, local authorities and trade unions should be given information to place the local environmental problems and solutions in their life cycle perspective, so that solutions to local problems do not lead to problems elsewhere.
Chain-oriented marketing, sales, and information
Customer relations are an important part of the information flow of the chain-oriented organisation. Emphasis is on interactive communication rather than one-way advertising, as the feedback from customers is vital for adjusting both products and information to suit the needs of the customers. Understanding how the consumers make the trade-offs between the price, the environmental benefits of the product, and its other qualities, is used to delineate the space for further improvements. Understanding the trends among consumers allows for long term planning and timing of the introduction of new products.
Chain-oriented marketing and information must be fact-based, trustworthy, and contain strong elements of education and awareness-building. Customers should be brought to view themselves as another important part of the chain with their own responsibilities for the further impacts in the product chain. Simple claims, e.g. of environmental superiority, will seldom have a long-term effect compared to building a trustworthy image of a company that seriously works for continuous improvement of its products in co-operation with the other parties in the chain.
The goal of integrated logistics is to reduce the environmental, economic, and quality impacts from transport and storage. Here it is not enough to look at the external and internal supplies and deliveries of individual components and products. The transport of personnel to and from the workplace as well as the way the product finally reaches the consumer may be of as much relevance. Joint transport, reduction of the transport needs, longer planning horizons, better fits between transport means and transport need, reduced packaging and direct-delivery may be some of the options investigated. Maintenance and take-back options for the product may also be investigated as part of the product chain strategy.
Chain-oriented research and development
Many of the environmental, economic, and quality relations of a product chain can be influenced during product development, through the choice of raw materials, components, production processes, and characteristics of use, maintenance and disassembly. Thus, product development plays a central role in the chain-oriented organisation.
Life cycle oriented environmental and quality management
Chain-orientation is inherent to quality management, but the full life cycle perspective, going beyond the immediate suppliers and customers, may still need to be implemented.
For environmental management, the life cycle perspective can initially be implemented in relation to the environmental reviews, not only taking into account the direct environmental impacts but also the impacts caused by activities elsewhere, due to the raw materials purchased or due to the products sold. The life cycle oriented environmental management programme considers environmental conditions at suppliers, sub-contractors and licensees and how these are included in purchase decisions and awarding of contracts. Life cycle aspects are included in programmes to develop new activities, products and processes. The information given to consumers is expanded to contain advice on environmentally sensible use and disposal of the product.
Chain-oriented personnel and knowledge administration
No organisation is better than its parts. A chain-oriented organisation needs chain-oriented employees. The personnel administration must ensure that recruitment and education plans are directed at developing quality-conscious, environmentally responsible employees, who actively participates in the company programmes and are open towards the need of others in the chain-oriented organisation. The personnel administration should actively support and encourage individuals who take communicative, environmental and quality-improving initiatives. Read more on our page on employee participation.
Chain-oriented legal administration
As ultimately responsible for the legal relations and the design of contracts, the legal administration should investigate the possibilities for incorporating product-chain aspects into the formal relations to suppliers, sub-contractors, licensees and local authorities. In its long term planning, it should aim at reducing or sharing product liability and anticipate regulation that will affect the working of the chain-oriented organisation.
Chain-oriented financial administration
The ordinary accounting of a company does not split out the production costs on the individual products and even when using cost allocation for pricing or when budgeting for specific projects it is seldom that all costs are correctly allocated. In the product-oriented organisation, Total Cost Assessment gives a product perspective to costing, which matches that of environmental life cycle assessment. In Total Cost Assessment also indirect, hidden, and less tangible costs are included, and costs (and benefits) within a longer time horizon (10 to 15 years) are included. However, most important is the complete allocation of all costs back to the products and processes whence they arose, also known as activity-based costing. Total Cost Assessment may be introduced for valuation of specific projects but the full benefits will only be obtained if the daily accounting operates on this basis.
The indirect, hidden and less tangible costs included in a Total Cost Assessment include costs for waste storage and handling, monitoring, record keeping, reporting, training, emergency preparedness, medical surveillance, insurance, decreased lifetime of installations, property damage, loss of working days due to illness, lost productivity, time for handling community concerns, and lost market shares due to perceived environmental problems. External costs, for which the company is not presently responsible, such as the costs of preventing or compensating for general environmental damages, are not usually included in a Total Cost Assessment. If they were, this information would overlap that of environmental life cycle assessments, since these assessments are accounts of such externalities in the product chain, although usually not monetarised.
Chain-oriented strategic management
Strategic decisions have a large influence on environmental impacts. Location of a new plant, or expanding or closing of an old one, a decision on a merger, enter a new market, deploy a new process, or develop a new product, are all examples of decisions which can be taken with or without a view to the product chain impacts. The building of a chain-oriented organisation can be completely compromised if decisions at the strategic level are not justified by product chain information and communicated to the rest of the organisation in this spirit. Long term life cycle based planning and scenario techniques should be used to avoid “spur of the moment”-decisions.
Besides overseeing the development of the chain-oriented organisation within the company, the strategic management also has the responsibility to initiate and confirm co-operation with other actors in the product chain. While some companies may control important parts of their products’ life cycles and therefore may implement substantial life cycle improvements without asking the assistance of others, joint implementation with other companies in the chain usually creates an important synergy effect. Joint implementation has also come to be known under the name integrated chain management, a term coined in the Dutch national environmental policy plan of 1989. The initiative for joint implementation typically comes from an influential (large) company in the chain. Less often, co-operation is initiated by groups of small companies in a product chain or in a region. Product chains seem to be natural starting points for co-operation, since products already constitute the common ground for the economic exchange between the companies.