Lifecycle Assessment for Strategic Product Design and Management

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Muir, Michael Christopher
Bras, Berdinus A.
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With the advent of digital imaging technology, the options available to consumers in consumer imaging have increased tremendously. From image capture through image processing and output, many options have emerged; however, the relative environmental impacts of these different options are not clear cut. Simplistically, one might say that the use of a digital camera has a lesser environmental burden than the use of a reloadable film camera because the image produced as a result of using the digital camera avoids chemicals in film developing. However, digital cameras require electronics and computers that need energy; and, energy production is one of the contributors to greenhouse gasses like CO2. Assessment of the environmental impacts of these different options can help provide feedback to decision makers and insights that will help reduce environmental impact through product system design. One tool that has been used to relate environmental impacts with functions provide to consumers through products or services is Life Cycle Assessment (LCA). LCA, which has been standardized by the International Standards Organization (ISO) in ISO14000, is used here to evaluate both traditional film and digital imaging systems. Data from publicly available databases and both external and internal Eastman Kodak Company studies were utilized to develop LCA modules for the different processes involved. Product and service business models are explored for both technologies through ten different imaging and output scenarios. The functional unit used is the capture, processing and output of one 4 x6 image. Four impact categories (energy use, greenhouse emission, water use and waste generation) across four life cycle phases (upstream, distribution, use, and end of life) are explored for the ten scenarios. LCA is also evaluated as a tool to help facilitate strategic level environmental performance issues with both new and established business activities. Sensitivity analysis is also performed to evaluate the impact of assumptions made in the course of the assessment and comments are made regarding the effectiveness of LCA for strategic assessment and product service strategies in lowering environmental impact. Results indicate that the lowest impact scenarios are Digital Capture to LCD Display for Greenhouse Emissions and Energy Use and Film Capture to Wholesale Print for Water Use and Waste Generation. Highest impacts were seen for Greenhouse Emissions in the Film Capture to Retail Print scenario. In the Energy Use and Water Use category, the Digital Capture to CRT Computer Display was the highest scenario. For Waste Generation, the Digital Capture to Inkjet Print was the highest impact scenario.
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