"eLCA" is a European Commission financed project aimed at realising “On line green tools and services for Small and Medium-sized Enterprises (SMEs)”. Knowledge and use of Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) by SMEs are strategic to introduce the Integrated Product Policy (IPP) in Europe, but methodology simplification is needed. LCA requires a large amount of validated general and sector specific data. Since their availability and cost can be insuperable barriers for SMEs, pre-elaborated data/meta-data, use of standards and low cost solutions are required. Within the framework of the eLCA project an LCA software - eVerdEE - based on a simplified methodology and specialised for SMEs has been developed. eVerdEE is a web-based tool with some innovative features. Its main feature is the adaptation of ISO 14040 requirements to offer easy-to-handle functions with solid scientific bases. Complex methodological problems, such as the system boundaries definition, the data quality estimation and documentation, the choice of impact categories, are simplified according to the SMEs’ needs. Predefined "Goal and Scope definition" and "Inventory" forms, a user-friendly and well structured procedure are time and cost-effective. The tool is supported by a database containing pre-elaborated environmental indicators of substances and processes for different impact categories. The impact assessment is calculated automatically by using the user’s input and the database values. The results have different levels of interpretation in order to identify the life cycle critical points and the improvement options. The use of a target plot allows the direct comparison of different design alternatives.
TESPI (Tool for Environmental Sound Product Innovation) is the prototype of a software tool developed within the framework of the “eLCA” project. The project, (www.elca.enea.it)financed by the European Commission, is realising “On line green tools and services for Small and Medium sized Enterprises (SMEs)”. The implementation by SMEs of environmental product innovation (as fostered by the European Integrated Product Policy, IPP) needs specific adaptation to their economic model, their knowledge of production and management processes and their relationships with innovation and the environment. In particular, quality and costs are the main driving forces of innovation in European SMEs, and well known barriers exist to the adoption of an environmental approach in the product design. Starting from these considerations, the TESPI tool has been developed to support the first steps of product design taking into account both the quality and the environment. Two main issues have been considered: (i) classic Quality Function Deployment (QFD) can hardly be proposed to SMEs; (ii) the environmental aspects of the product life cycle need to be integrated with the quality approach. TESPI is a user friendly web-based tool, has a training approach and applies to modular products. Users are guided through the investigation of the quality aspects of their product (customer’s needs and requirements fulfilment) and the identification of the key environmental aspects in the product’s life cycle. A simplified check list allows analyzing the environmental performance of the product. Help is available for a better understanding of the analysis criteria. As a result, the significant aspects for the redesign of the product are identified.
In several countries, due to the increasing cost and shortage of water, textile finishing industries are looking for non conventional water resources. The use of reclaimed wastewater appears a technically feasible solution and is gaining a growing consensus. A European Union research project (TOWEF0, Towards effluent zero) with the aim of elaborating a multicriteria integrated and coherent methodology to support the implementation of sustainable water reuse in textile finishing processes has been recently concluded. In order to achieve an optimal compromise between minimization of environmental impacts of the production processes and maximum recovery of resources, Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) methodology has been applied to selected textile products manufactured within Belgian and Italian textile finishing companies. The study identified the key environmental issues within the finishing processes of a variety of natural (cotton, silk) and man-made (polyester, acetate, viscose) fibers and fabrics and analyzed alternative water reuse scenarios. Significant margins exist for impressive reductions in water consumption with almost no additional environmental impact adopting in situ membrane filtration technology. In this paper the methodological approach and the results of the LCA analyses applied to a flax-polyester product are presented and discussed.