The use of energy, and the use of water are two examples of environmental considerations where we need to consider the whole of a product’s life. As with waste, and issues about replacement solders, such concerns can be analysed particularly effectively using two inter-related techniques:
The product life cost. In the past this has been primarily a way of assessing ‘cost of ownership’ throughout life, which totals capital cost, running costs, servicing and maintenance, and eventually disposal. The concept can however be extended to cover the product’s impact on the environment and/or the energy involved in the activities, remembering that all purchased materials will have consumed energy at all stages from the extraction of raw materials to final manufacture.
The product life cycle approach, which looks at the total interrelationship from raw materials, through manufacture to the product, throughout its use, and from disposal through recycling to create new raw material.