Integrated Product Design in Chemical Industry. A Plea for Adequate Life-Cycle Screening Indicators


  • André Weidenhaupt
  • Konrad Hungerbühler



The ever expanding growth of energy and material fluxes and the associated environmental impact challenge the chemical industry to integrate ecological issues into the design of new chemical substances and products (integrated product design). To achieve this goal, product developers as well as marketing and application specialists need appropriate tools for incorporating ecological issues at every stage of product development. Life-Cycle Design, an approach based on the screening indicators of the streamlined Life-Cycle Assessment (LCA) method, is an appropriate concept that can be used even at early development stages. Still today, however, many product designers regard screening indicators, e.g. energy and/or material intensity, summary emission indicators (DOC, TOC, VOC, etc.) as rather subjective judgements, even if they are based on experts' knowledge, panel discussions, etc. Thus, there is a strong need for defining an appropriate set of objective screening indicators based on a natural science approach. These enable an accurate description of environmental effects of a chemical substance in all environmental compartments (air, soil, water, and biota). In this work, we present a conceptual framework for screening indicators that take into account both process inputs and outputs at every single life-cycle stage. Finally, first results based on several case studies (solvents, dyestuffs, …) are shown.




How to Cite

A. Weidenhaupt, K. Hungerbühler, Chimia 1997, 51, 217, DOI: 10.2533/chimia.1997.217.