IVL develops information system for identifying product contents
The requirement that companies shall knowingly refrain from using prohibited metals, chemicals and other materials in their products has become more urgent since the EU introduced its REACH regulation on chemicals in 2007. IVL Swedish Environmental Research Institute is currently working on an information system that will increase the level of knowledge regarding the materials in a product.
“We have begun by identifying the need and we can see that this is considerable," says Hanna Stensson of IVL.
How is a company to comply with the provisions of REACH without detailed information on the contents of its products? How should a product be designed to make it easy to recycle? What materials and substances should be avoided in product design and why? IVL is currently working with a number of partners, including Chalmers University of Technology, Gothenburg (CTH) and the Swedish Lifecycle Centre (CPM), to develop an information system offering answers to these questions. The Vinnova-funded project has recently reached the end of its initial phase, in which workshops and seminars were conducted to identify the needs and requirements of companies. Discussions on ways and means of pursuing the project further are now being held with the project partners. “The point of the system that we want to develop is that it will enable the producer companies to keep better track of material flows. The system will cover the entire value chain," explains Hanna Stensson. The intention is that the producer companies will get their suppliers to specify the contents of the products they supply, including the finished product, sub-components and constituent substances. The information will be stored as a type of tree structure similar to that used for domains, directories and files in a PC. Linking the product content information with a CAD system, for example, will provide information on where certain materials or substances are used in the product, how the product is constituted, and so on. “Detailed knowledge of the contents of their goods will enable companies, especially small and medium enterprises, to gain a competitive advantage in terms of complying with the regulation, making environmental assessments and designing resource-efficient products," concludes Hanna Stensson. For more information, please contact Hanna Stensson, tel. +46-31-7256299.