During the process of environmental decision making, decision tools are necessary. Harding et al (2009) shows several tools for scoping decision options: Environmental Management Systems (EMS), Environmental Impact Assessment, State of the Environment and Corporate Environmental Reporting (SoE and CER), Life Cycle Assessment (LCA), Ecological Footprint, Materials Flow Analysis, Geographic Information Systems (GIS), Risk Management and Risk Assessment, Monitoring and Auditing, etc. According to LCA, it is a technique for examining the environmental impact of a product over all stages of its life cycle. The goal of it is to minimize the effects on the environment for the manufactured products, and to explore ways of moving beyond compliance by using pollution prevention strategies and environmental management systems to improve environmental performances. The conventional LCA framework contains four basic phases: scope and boundary identification; inventory analysis; impact assessment; and interpretation of evaluated results., as shown in Figure1. Here, I would like to introduce a new metric-based LCA methodology—6R methodology (reduce, recover, reuse, remanufacture, recycle and redesign).
Figure1 Life cycle assessment framework (Zhang, 2012).
This novel methodology has expanded the concepts of end of life. The overall product sustainability can be improved by applying 6R methodology. Detailed descriptions are showed below.
It involves the whole processes throughout the life-cycle stages of a manufactured product. The goals of it is to reduce the use of materials and resources, and reduce the wastes and emissions.
After the first life-cycle of manufacturing, materials/components.products can be reused in order to reduce the use of new raw materials.
It is the process of converting end-of life materials into new materials/product. It is used when reuse options are not possible.
It is the process of collecting materials from end0of-life products, disassembling assembled products, sorting and cleaning for utilization in subsequent life-cycles of the product or for use in other products. The aim of it is reducing recycling.
It can improve products for manufacture with less resource consumption and pollution.
It means reprocessing of end-of-life components for restoration to their original function. It includes redesigning of new products using such end-of-life products.
In conclusion, the 6R methodology can be applied throughout the entire life-cycle of the product. Improvements of the overall sustainability can be achieved with the use of the 6R methodology.
Harding, R., Hendriks, C., and Faruqui, M. (2009). Socio-political context of tools. In: Environmental decision making: exploring complexity and context. pp. 222-224.
Zhang, X., 2012. A new metric-based LCA method for assessing the sustainability performance of metallic automotive components.