Helping small businesses to go green
The EU-funded initiative brought together industry associations and groupings (IAGs) from across Europe to help SMEs make their production processes more environment friendly. The companies were involved in plastic conversion, mechanical processing, electrical goods and electronics manufacturing, and automotive parts production. Project partners developed an innovative ecodesign platform that enabled companies to meet the requirements of their customers and legislators. A tool kit for design teams was created that could be operated through installed software or over the Internet. An interactive X-Mat system was produced that allowed businesses to monitor and manage their manufacturing processes and materials. The X-Pro module was developed for conducting life-cycle analyses, while the X-Rec was used to assess and determine different end-of-life scenarios. These systems helped manufacturers to design products that can be reused and recycled. Ecodis also helped to 'green' the supply chain through the transference of data and the traceability of information along the supply chain. The X-Change module enabled SMEs to monitor the environmental status of their suppliers thereby demonstrating to customers that they have followed ecodesign principles. A roadmap was also developed for implementing an ecodesign approach in the company that resulted in a product-oriented environmental management system (POEMS). Success of the project has helped European SMEs meet their environmental commitments and demonstrate their compliance by achieving international standards. These enabled companies to be more environment friendly and efficient by reviewing and improving their production processes, thus also allowing them to better compete in the global marketplace.