ASU Center for Organization Research and Design

Communicating the Eco-Efficiency of Products and Services by Means of the Eco-Costs/Value Model

by Joost G Vogtländer; Arianne Bijma; Han C Brezet

Feb 1, 2002

At the Delft University of Technology, a new model has been developed to describe the sustainability of products, the 'EVR model'. This model comprises two concepts: - the 'virtual eco-costs' as a LCA-based single indicator for environmental impact - the EVR (Eco-costs/Value Ratio) as an indicator for eco-efficiency In this publication, an experiment is described to test whether the EVR model leads to a good understanding of the eco-efficiency, of a product–service combination. In this experiment three separate groups of 8-11 people were asked to rank four alternative solutions of a product–service system (the after sales service and the maintenance service of an induction plate cooker) both in terms of sustainability and of general preference. The three respective groups were: - customers (among whom representatives of consumer organizations) - business representatives from the manufacturing company of the induction plate cookers - governmental representatives (employees of the Dutch ministries of environmental affairs and economic affairs, and of the Dutch provinces as well as consultants involved in governmental policies), all experts in the field of sustainability The basic idea was to ask each group to rank the four alternatives after three levels of information input: Level 1: basic explanation of the four alternatives. Some major features and characteristics such as price were given, but no environmental data. Level 2: on explanation of an LCA of the four alternatives, given in nine impact classes and the Eco-indicator 95. Level 3: an explanation of the EVR model and the EVR data of the four alternatives. Each time the group was asked to rank the proposed alternatives in terms of expected environmental performance and of 'best choice in general' ('Which system would you have bought in a real life situation?'). From the experiments it can be concluded that: - The concept of eco-costs was accepted by the majority of the non-experts: they based their ranking on it. and they preferred it rather than direct LCA output or the damage based eco-indicator 95 data. - The environmental experts in the governmental group did not directly accept the concept of eco-costs model (they wanted in depth information first); they tended to stick to their existing knowledge of LCA data and the Eco-indicator 95. - 'Overall' preferences of the customers and business representatives were primarily ranked on the 'perceived value'/costs ratio of the product–service combination; the sustainability of the product–service combination played a secondary role.

Communicating the Eco-Efficiency of Products and Services by Means of the Eco-Costs/Value Model