Community Research and Development Information Service - CORDIS

FP6

ECODIS Report Summary

Project ID: 500779
Funded under: FP6-SME
Country: France

Final Report Summary - ECODIS (EcoDesign Interactive Systems)

The ECODIS Collective Research project brought together industry associations and groupings (IAGs) from France, Belgium, Hungary and Spain to represent small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) in plastic conversion, mechanical processing, electrical goods and electronics manufacturing, and automotive parts production. Together with seven research contractors and ten SMEs, they have developed and distribute an innovative eco-design platform that enables companies to meet the requirements of their customers and legislators. Twelve large companies have also contributed to the project by participating on the advisory board.

Many large manufacturers are already embracing the environmental challenge, seeing it as good for business. They are investing time and money into developing environmental policies, management systems and implementing standards such as ISO14001. And now they are beginning to demand that their suppliers also meet a satisfactory level of environmental performance.

But many small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) are struggling to comply. They do not have the basic information they need, such as data on hazardous substances, the environmental impact of manufacturing processes and different end-of-life scenarios. Furthermore, most do not have the cultural or technical know-how to incorporate the environmental dimension into their work. Design teams are used for quality, cost and time parameters, but now they must consider the environmental impact of their designs, too.

The ECODIS tool kit, operating either through software installed in a company or accessible over the internet, integrates four different modules to support eco-design within a firm. It offers an interactive information system called X-Mat enabling companies to manage and monitor the materials and ingredients that are used for product manufacturing and which are potentially harmful or hazardous to health and / or the environment. Anyone is concerned, as the recent REACH regulation introduces legal obligations further along the supply chain to anyone who uses chemicals and makes or supplies products. Almost 30 000 substances are regulated or targeted in Europe by Reach, the vast majority of which remain unknown to most SMEs.
The ECODIS platform also includes the X-Pro module for life-cycle and environmental impact analyses. Firms can compare different industrial processes and reduce the environmental impact of the manufacturing phase. A complementary system X-Rec assesses different scenarios for end-of-life processing so that products can be designed with reuse and recycling in mind.

The ECODIS platform is also designed to permit the transfer of data and the traceability of information along the supply chain: X-Change will help SMEs to monitor the environmental status of their suppliers and satisfy their own customers that they have followed eco-design principles. ECODESIGN-roadmap is a methodology for implementing an eco-design approach in the company. It contains the key steps from the set up of basics to the full implementation of a Product oriented environmental management system (POEMS).

Although no comparable tool exists specifically for Europe's SMEs, the project was not started from scratch. Two of the IAGs involved have been working on such systems for large companies for many years. However, these are complex tools requiring expert knowledge - and they tend to be inappropriate for small businesses. The expanded ECODIS project designed these systems to be adapted for smaller businesses and configured so that they could also be used in other manufacturing sectors across Europe.

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ECODESIGN INTERACTIVE SYSTEMS
65, Rue de Prony
B-9000 PARIS
France
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