With the term "eco-design" or "sustainable design" we often focus only on the term "design", thus thinking of innovative and environmentally friendly features of structure and functionality. However, Eco-design is a basic element of a sustainable economic model; consists of a design based on the dynamic use of resources and materials, allows to reduce the environmental impact linked to production and helps to reduce the amount of waste generated, intervening on the durability, repairability, possibility of updating and recyclability of the products themselves. This design focuses on the principles of the circular economy.

At the basis of this process we find some key principles:

– the life cycle of the products;
– the sharing and integration of skills: “eco-charrette”.
The first is synonymous with a holistic vision of the product, understood as an influential system that interacts with the environment at every stage, starting from the extraction of raw materials, to their use, up to their management at the end of their life.

The principle of “eco-charrette” instead represents a sharing and multidisciplinary approach that characterizes the study of complex phenomena.

In fact, practicing eco-design requires:

  • technical skills, such as those on the choice of materials, on performance in the use phase, on recycling and recovery processes at the end of their life;
  • analytical skills, related to the ability to quantify the potential environmental impacts associated with the various alternatives under consideration

The principles of ecodesign apply to all phases of the product life cycle, with the aim of reducing its overall environmental impact: from the procurement and use of raw materials, which must be reusable, biodegradable, recyclable and non-toxic ; processing, production process and distribution must comply with the EU directive on eco-design (Directive 2009/125/EC), in terms of energy efficiency and reduced environmental impact.

Even the consumption of the product and the ability to reuse converge in defining it as eco-friendly and sustainable: the life cycle of the product must be able to be extended as much as possible, through the recycling and/or reuse of its components. Alternatively, the product must be 100% biodegradable, so as to be completely part of the natural cycle.

Ecodesign therefore represents the new vision of design: the possibility of designing without taking into account the complete life cycle of the products. Through the LCA (Life Cycle Assessment) methodology, the entire life cycle of products can be assessed and how they “interact” with the environment, including the pre-production, production, distribution, use and reuse, final disposal phases .

This is an internationally standardized procedure according to the ISO 14040 and 14044 standards. The system perspective is the basis of the LCA logic, it allows you to understand and manage the complexity of the supply chain, upstream and downstream of the production process. The critical issues in the entire life cycle of the product are then identified, to hypothesize solutions aimed at saving and recovering energy and materials.


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