Eco-innovation and eco-design
Eco-innovation is any innovation that significantly promotes sustainable development by reducing the environmental impact of production methods, increasing the resilience to environmental burden or ensuring more efficient and more responsible use of natural resources.
Eco-innovation is also an opportunity for entrepreneurs. Eco-innovation reduces costs, helps to seize new growth opportunities, and improves the image of the enterprise in the eyes of its customers.
One efficient tool of eco-innovation is eco-design or circular design.
- Comprehensively designed process and product help to produce more for the same resources.
- Production residues / recycled raw materials can serve as input to the new cycle / production process.
- Circle design begins with an analysis that considers the aspects of input materials and resource efficiency, followed by a traditional product life cycle – production, use, and waste management.
Life Cycle Assessment (LCA)
Life cycle assessment is an operational framework that analyses and assesses the environmental impact of a product/service throughout its life cycle.
Key characteristics of life cycle assessment:
- Product oriented;
- Step-by-step development;
- Based on operational unit;
- Life cycle assessment is scientific and measurable.
Product life cycle stages:
Life Cycle Cost analysis (LCCA)
The life cycle cost is a tool to determine the most cost-effective choice between different competing alternatives in order to purchase and possess the most expedient service/service on the basis of the economic, environmental, and social aspects. The correct estimation of the total life cycle cost has to take into account certain issues: service life, discount rate, data availability and reliability.
Life cycle – the frequency of replacement of a product greatly affects its cost, especially over a longer period of time. An inexpensive product that needs to be replaced frequently can definitely cost more in the long run than a more expensive product that lasts for several years. This should be taken into account when deciding on how many years you want to compare life-cycle cost assessment.
Discount rate – the future costs are not worth as much as the current costs, as society provides the present positive and negative impact with greater weight than with regard to the future impact. If you invest 100 euros today with an interest rate of 5%, it is worth 105 euros in one year. Therefore, 105 euros spent after one year is currently worth merely 100 euros – its current net present value (NPV). Net present value can be taken into account when comparing life cycle costs by applying a social discount rate to future costs. This rate varies from country to country, but it usually remains between 3% and 8% (adjusted for inflation).
Availability and reliability of data – life-cycle cost assessment covers the element of unpredictability in terms of the future costs (such as maintenance costs, energy consumption, and also the actual service life of a product).