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Product-related Environmental Information Systems in Austrian Companies

Inventory of product-related environmental information systems, survey of implementations within Austrian companies, and analysis with respect to principle applications

Short Description

The integration of life cycle thinking into business practice of Austrian companies is the aim of the project ‘Product-related environmental information systems (PEIS) in Austrian companies'. Considering all (environmental) impacts of a product supplements site-specific measures. Some optimisation issues can only be treated reasonably by integrating life cyle aspects. PEIS give information on all life cycle stages of a product (‘from cradle to grave'). Knowledge on existing PEIS, their advantages and limits and examples of successful implementation shall help business firms to consider life cycle aspects in a more systematic way. The project ‘PEIS in Austrian companies' aims at enhancing the use of PEIS, by

  1. Collecting information on methods suitable to be used as PEIS as well as on users of PEIS (companies and scientific experts in Austria)
  2. Describing the characteristics of commonly used PEIS
  3. Defining the demands of different decision types
  4. Linking demand and supply by comparing PEIS profiles to decision profiles resulting in recommendations of PEIS for a given decision type
  5. Summarising possible measures and strategies for companies and their representative bodies, as well as for scientists, consultants and policy makers

Therefore, the project consisted of three modules:

A. Inventory of PEIS in Austria

A survey based on questionnaires and interviews reveals details of PEIS applications in Austrian companies. On the basis of a literature survey an overview of methods suitable to be used as PEIS has been compiled. Austrian consultants, who have experiences with PEIS, have been asked to assess the characteristics of different PEIS by filling in an e-mail questionnaire.

B. Scientific analysis of PEIS and decision types

PEIS are characterised by taking literature into account as well as questioning consultants and expert assessment. Demands of decision types are described by using the same parameter as for PEIS characterisation. Given a particular decision type the comparison of PEIS profiles and decision profiles results in recommending PEIS. Profiles and results are published on this website.

C. PEIS for the ‘plant of tomorrow'

Based on the results of modules A and B, recommendations and strategies for companies and their representative bodies, scientists and consultants as well as for policy makers are summarised as a strategy paper.
The final report on the project ‘Product-related environmental information systems (PEIS) in Austrian companies' includes the results of modules A-C. The scientific report "PEIS at the test bench" as well as the strategy paper "PEIS in the plant of tomorrow" are integral parts of this final report. The handbook "PEIS - Theory and practice" is published separately on this website.

The survey carried out in Austrian companies via questionnaire and via interviews reveals details of PEIS applications (degree of dissemination, intended purpose, motivations), requirements of business with regard to PEIS and recommendations to other companies and their representative bodies as well as scientists, consultants and policy makers. In Austria application of PEIS is mainly done because of activities in the context of the environmental management system. Companies are familiar with some of the PEIS but rarely use them to integrate life cycle aspects. With a few exceptions, PEIS are not applied on a routinely basis. Differences and common features of the situation in Germany are highlighted by comparing a study performed by the IÖW [footnote 1] .

More than 20 different PEIS are characterised by parameters related to ‘range', ‘process,' ‘result', ‘adaptation to the specific case', and ‘operating expense'. The characteristics rely on the results of a questionnaire answered by consultants. Furthermore, results of an expert assessment [footnote 2] are taken into account .

The description of decision types follows the structure and text used in the handbook [footnote 3] which has been developed in the course of the EU-project CHAINET. Requirements of strategic planning, capital investment, design & development, communication & marketing and operational management are described by the same criteria set as used for the characterisation of PEIS.

A comparison of the profiles of decision types on the one hand and the characteristics of PEIS on the other hand leads to the identification of PEIS suitable for a given decision type. Since the profiles presented are based on the assessments of only a few persons, the results must be understood as a first starting point, which shall be refined in succeeding activities.

The so-called strategy paper for the target groups companies, representative bodies, scientists, consultants and policy makers is based on the recommendations of Austrian companies and the studies mentioned above. Measures and strategies are presented, which shall support the systematic use and dissemination of PEIS applications within Austrian companies.

Footnotes:

(1) Konrad, Wilfried ua (2002): Produktbezogene Umweltinformationssysteme. Empirische Analysen zu ihrem Einsatz in Unternehmen. Schriftenreihe des IÖW 163/02. Berlin.

(2) Gruppe angewandte Technologien (GrAT), Krotschek, Institut für Industrielle Ökologie (2003): Eignung und Anwendbarkeit von Bewertungsmethoden für nachhaltiges Wirtschaften, im Auftrag des Bundesministeriums für Verkehr, Innovation und Technologie (BMVIT), Projektergebnisse.

(3) Wrisberg, Nicoline; Udo de Haes, Helias (Hrsg) (2002): Analytical Tools for Environmental Design and Management in a Systems Perspective. Kluwer Academic Publishers. Netherlands.

Project Partners

Contact:

Dr. Ulrike Seebacher
Interuniversitäres Forschungszentrum für Technik, Arbeit und Kultur (IFF/IFZ)
8010 Graz, Schlögelgasse 2
Tel: 0316/81390925, Fax: 0316/810274
e-mail: seebacher@ifz.tu-graz.ac.at

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