New requirements of ISO 14001:2015 – The life cycle assessment

The new ISO 14001:2015 also requires – as part of the assessment of environmental aspects – consideration to be given to the life cycle of products and services. By no means is a complete life cycle assessment wanted but rather one that considers and checks for possible improvements of the environmental aspects and environmental impacts of a product or a service during its life cycle.

The life cycle includes all steps from raw material extraction and manufacturing right up to final disposal (‘from the cradle to the grave’). In terms of an aspired recycling economy, the environmental aim for some selected topics can indeed also be formulated as a life cycle ‘from cradle to cradle’.

In addition to consideration of the life cycle during the evaluation of environmental aspects, criteria for managing environmentally relevant processes must also be determined. In doing so, the development processes within the company are to be considered as this significantly influences the product life cycle. The following aspects could be looked at and considered during product design: how does the product perform with re-gard to material efficiency, material suitability, energy efficiency, low emissions, waste minimisation, lengthy service, ease of repair, stability-overtime, recyclability, disposability and/or logistics suitability?

Possible tools for the development processes could be, for instance, black or white lists indicating, for example, problematic or unproblematic materials, production procedures or countries of origin.