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Ecodesign to reduce the carbon footprint

The carbon footprint of products measures the amount of greenhouse gases (GHG) emitted during the life cycle of the product, from the raw material extraction and processing, through the manufacturing and distribution, to the use and end-of-life stages.

Therefore, the calculation of carbon footprint allows companies to quantify the GHG emissions derived from the whole life cycle of products, determining the contribution of each process and stage of the life cycle to the total emissions. Once the critical points of the products have been identified, it is possible to apply eco-design strategies to reduce their footprint.

Eco-design is a process integrated in the product design and development that has as main objective the reduction of the environmental impact of products throughout their life cycle. Eco-design does not modify the basic process for design and development of new products, but it complements it through the inclusion of environmental criteria that must receive the same attention as the rest of the traditional design aspects, such as quality, safety and aesthetics.

The consideration of environmental criteria in the design stage responds to the fact that most part of the environmental impacts of products (approximatively 80 %, according to German Federal Environmental Agency) are pre-arranged in the moment when they are designed. Once the product is manufactured and enters the market, there is low margin of manoeuvre to reduce the environmental impacts.