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EPIC-ICT — Result In Brief

Project ID: 513673
Funded under: FP6-POLICIES
Country: Germany

Eco-friendly personal computers from cradle to grave

EU-funded researchers developed important methodology for assessing the environmental impact of personal computers from raw materials to product disposal. This development has important implications for sustainable manufacturing in the EU.
Eco-friendly personal computers from cradle to grave
Delivery of environmentally friendly products has become an important issue not only for policymakers but for consumers as well, creating more and more commercial interest on the part of producers.

Defining environmental performance indicators for information and communication technology (ICT) products that satisfy manufacturers, regulators and environmental non-governmental organisations (NGOs) among others was the goal of the EPIC-ICT project.

Researchers chose the personal computer (PC) as a model to enable definition of product properties such as clock rate, type of graphics card and energy consumption with the goal of eco-design of a product category followed by optimisation of individual products within the group.

The method pursued consisted of first identifying desired PC functions considering customer demands followed by translation of these into specific electronic components. A key component of the methodology was life-cycle assessment (LCA), a process used to evaluate the environmental impact of a product from obtaining raw materials through to product disposal or recycling.

LCA was then used to evaluate environmental performance and reassess functions and related components accordingly in order to minimise environmental impact. The process resulted in identification of eco-design parameters for the PC group of products.

The EPIC-ICT project thus developed a systematic and flexible method for addressing a number of environmental issues related to PCs. The method relied on LCA and establishment of environmental performance indicators and has the potential to enhance sustainable manufacturing of PCs. In addition, applying the methodology to other product categories could have significant widespread impact on sustainable manufacturing in the EU.

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