DEVELOPMENT OF AN ECODESIGN METHODOLOGY FOR RECYCLABLE TEXTILE COVERINGS

A. Schröter, U. Rübsam, T. Schlüter, Y.S. Gloy, G. Seide, T. Gries

Institut für Textiltechnik der RWTH Aachen (GERMANY)
Ecodesign is the systematic integration of environmental requirements into product design and development, to improve its overall environmental performance. In this sense, the goal of the project EcoMeTex is the development of an Ecodesign methodology for design and product development of recyclable textile coverings used in the European construction and transport industry. EcoMeTex engages key players from the EU carpet industry as well as partners from the supply chain, research, consultancy, testing and certification in a three year program of work.

The method to be developed in this project should guarantee the analysis of the complete life-cycle of a product. This enables the identification of the most important influence parameters and reveals possible improvement potentials. A ‘Life-Cycle-Assesment’ (LCA) is to understand the environmental impact of a product along all its life cycle stages and to improve strategies for the design of an ecologically product.
The methodology for EcoMeTex is structured in 8 steps.

Product description gives a generic data framework to support the following methodology steps, and as such, includes technical, manufacturing, and regulatory information on the reference products.
The environmental assessment deals with the description of the environmental aspects and impacts of the reference products over their entire life cycles. Quality Function Deployment has been chosen for the stakeholder analysis, as a way to understand the relationship and importance of the requirements from different stakeholders and the relevant technical parameters of the carpets. The process analysis for carpet manufacturing comprises an input-output view to quantify the real material and energy flows in the production. The benchmarking analysis involves the description of different competitor products, to assess the degree in which these products fulfil specific stakeholder requirements, compared to the reference carpets.
The product and process improvement step summarizes all key results of previous steps, and aims at identifying a range of product improvement opportunities. The identified product and process improvement options are then prioritized and translated into concrete actions for the development of new product concepts.

A code of practice and a customized Ecodesign tool are part of the demonstration work in EcoMeTex. These resources explain the application of the Ecodesign methodology, and provide information and examples to assist product developers in the creation of textile floor coverings with lower environmental impacts. Capacity building in EcoMeTex includes training workshops with product designers and technical experts from industry, to promote the integration of Ecodesign into their product design and development processes.

Another goal of this method is to solve the contradiction of textile covering materials: on the one hand the covering material should be tightly connected during the application; on the other hand the layers should be easy to separate for the recycling process. Not only the optimization of the currently used materials and their production- as well as distribution-processes but also the development of new products and processing concepts is part of the method.