Title: Product-oriented ecological information systems and life-cycle management: quantitative and qualitative analyses in the German chemical and electrical industries

Authors: Wilfried Konrad

Addresses: Institute for Ecological Economy Research (IOW), Bergstr. 7, D-69120 Heidelberg, Germany

Abstract: This study, based on data acquired from a survey and from case studies, examines Product-oriented ecological Information Systems (PIS) (e.g., Life-Cycle Assessment (LCA)) as tools for managing products in the German chemical and electrical industries. A cluster analysis based on survey results suggests that there are essentially two types of enterprise using PIS, namely the performance-oriented (using PIS to enhance the economic and ecological aspects of their business processes) and the safety-oriented (using PIS to protect themselves from the risk of infringing against legal stipulations). The case studies suggest that many companies only apply LCA to their most important products. In these circumstances, the more straightforward PIS variants (e.g., checklists) tend to predominate. What is certain is that PIS usage must be tuned to each company|s specific circumstances. Only then can these tools be used, within the context of life-cycle-based product management, to make a meaningful contribution to sustainable development.

Keywords: product-oriented ecological information systems; PIS; lifecycle management; lifecycle assessment; LCA; environmental performance indicators; EPI; checklists; sustainability; chemical industry; electrical industry; cluster analysis; case studies; industrial ecology; Germany; cluster analysis; product management; sustainable development.

DOI: 10.1504/PIE.2005.006779

Progress in Industrial Ecology, An International Journal, 2005 Vol.2 No.1, pp.89 - 106

Published online: 14 Apr 2005 *

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