Is energy consumption in the use phase the only relevant requirement?
Purpose This paper concerns the Ecodesign Directive (2009/125/EC) and the implementing measures (IM) in which ecodesign requirements are set up for energy-using and energy-related products. Previous studies have found that the requirements have a unilateral focus on energy consumption and the use phase. This is not in line with the scientific understanding of ecodesign, where attention should be put on all life cycle phases and all relevant environmental impact categories. This study focuses on the requirements for televisions (TV). A life cycle assessment (LCA) is carried out on two TVs to analyse if other environmental hotspots and life cycle phases should be included in the requirements in the IM of the Ecodesign Directive besides energy consumption in the use phase analysis. Methods The consequential approach is used. The data for the LCA have been gathered from two manufacturers of TVs. In one case, the data were delivered in Excel spreadsheets; in the other case, the authors of this paper together with the manufacturer disassembled a TV and collected the data manually. Results and discussion When applying the consequential approach, the production phase has the highest environmental impact, which is in contradiction with the focus area of the IM. The result of the sensitivity analysis is that the source of electricity is a potentially significant contributor of uncertainty. However, even in a coal-based scenario, the contribution from the production phase is approximately 30 %. Conclusions Based on these results, it is concluded that for future requirement setting in IM, it is necessary to set up requirements that cover more life cycle phases of the product in order to address the most important impacts.
International Journal of Life Cycle Assessment, 2013, Vol 18, Issue 5, p. 1098-1105