The goal of eco-design of (electrical and electronic) products is to minimize the negative impacts of products on the environment within their whole life cycle already in early phase by their proper design.
The synonym ‘’eco’’ is related to ecological as well economical aspect of products design, their
production and use. Electrical and electronics sector is one of the most important in Europe economy. However, electronic products are usually very complex and therefore there are many factors which must be considered by eco-design and they are often correlated.
One of the most important factors for the environment is the energy consumption rate of the products, during its whole life cycle. Often the term ‘’green’’ is used to indicate low consumption goods. For example, the use of Information Communication Technologies (ICT), as for example internet of things (IoT), has enormous growth and therefore its energy consumption is also rapidly increasing. Green ICT with low power devices and equipment should be designed and used. Energy efficiency of other electrical and electronic products and systems is important as well in lighting (new light sources as LEDs, organic-LEDs), heating, transport (e-mobility), manufacturing (smart factory or so called Industry 4.0), energy production and transmission (smart grids), and others.
Another important factor is the amount of critical soil elements (materials), with limited resources, used for electronic products and their production. Some products and materials are also danger (or toxic) people’s health, animals, plants and environment in general (radiations, material and gas emissions). So their use should be reduced or totally eliminated. Limited clean water resources must be carefully used and its pollution prevented. The minimization of products size and weight through design enables the reduction of material consumption. Minimization of products will be with further development of 3-D printing of physical devices as well electronic components and circuits form macro to nano-scale. Organic electronic components will replace in many case conventional materials which Software defined products (like software defined networks) will enable adaptive structures and more functions, with the same physical devices (hardware) or infrastructure.
Eco-design therefore usually involves the improvement of economical efficiency of products. It also forces innovations and creativity in products design and research as well. Therefore eco-products usually have higher safety al quality levels and therefore consumers are more incline to buy them. There are many eco-labels for products which guarantee excellent ecological features of products.
Eco-design should also consider the reuse of products and materials (recycling) and therefore circular economy (production), which enables sustainable development. Therefore many countries as well as European Union forces eco-design of products through corresponding politics, white papers, directives (IPP, EuP, WEEE, RoHS) and standards by standardisation organisations (ISO, IEEE, IEC CIGRE, CENELECT for Europe). Eco-design therefore means also compliance with these documents.