Volcy Boilevin

Introduction to eco-design principles

5 minutes

Jan 30, 2024

1. Towards a more sustainable production

Europe, with initiatives such as the Ecodesign Directive, the Circular Economy Action Plan, and more broadly the European Green Deal, as well as France, through the Energy Transition for Green Growth law and the anti-waste law for a circular economy, are committed to seeking new methods of production and consumption that are more environmentally friendly [1, 2]. These public policies aim to address the goals of sustainable development and current environmental and social challenges.

Ecodesign is becoming an increasingly important approach for both different industrial sectors and consumers. For companies, this allows compliance with environmental regulations, obtaining environmental certifications and labels, and the adoption of eco-responsible values intrinsic to their operations. On the consumer side, it meets a growing demand for transparency, reduction of environmental footprint, and product sustainability. Indeed, ecodesign is a method that allows for the continuous improvement of the environmental performance of products and services [3].

2. Understanding ecodesign 

First and foremost, ecodesign adopts a life cycle approach. This means that all environmental impacts are taken into account, from raw material extraction to the end of product life (in a comprehensive and not simplified study) [4]. The methodology used to quantify these impacts is Life Cycle Assessment (LCA). LCA constitutes an essential step in the ecodesign approach (see Figure 1 and Section 3). Ecodesign also includes stages before and after LCA such as defining company needs (before) and identifying improvement possibilities (after) [5].

Figure 1 

Three steps defined by Sapiologie for an ecodesign approach. Image adapted from the Ecodesign Pole. (n.d.). The ecodesign approach.

In accordance with ISO 14006, this systematic approach aims to reduce the environmental footprint of products and manufacturing processes. At Sapiologie, we consider expanding the definition of ecodesign to include social and economic aspects, notably through social LCA and cost LCA [6]. This approach aligns ecodesign with the three pillars of sustainable development, offering a more comprehensive perspective that integrates the environment, society, and the economy.

3. The role of LCA in ecodesign

As mentioned in the previous section, LCA is an important step in the ecodesign approach. This method, standardized according to ISO 14040:2006, is multicriteria, meaning that it evaluates a product according to several impact indicators. For example, in the context of environmental LCA, these indicators mostly include climate change, land use, ecotoxicity, and water consumption [7]. Regarding social LCA, the indicators focus on aspects such as child labor, fair wages, or the health and safety of employees in the supply chain [8].

Figure 2 

Diagram of the stages of an LCA.

When conducting an LCA, it is interesting to carry out one or more comparative studies. An example could be comparing the environmental (and/or social) impacts between a bamboo toothbrush manufactured in China and a plastic (recycled) toothbrush produced in France. This comparative approach allows for the identification of the specific advantages and disadvantages of each product. Quantifying impacts is an essential step, but it is only part of the ecodesign process. LCA is complementary to Carbon Footprint, which takes into account the entire carbon footprint at the organizational level. 

4. Meet our ecodesign experts

Sapiologie's Laure Ziccarelli and Martin Bonnome are our ecodesign experts (see Figure 3). They are referenced by BPI to conduct ecodesign assessments. For information regarding funding or eligibility for the assessment, you can consult the following link: 

If you would like to test our tool, have a demonstration, quantify and simulate your impacts, and/or be supported in your ecodesign approach, contact us!

Figure 3

Support in the ecodesign approach at Sapiologie.


[1] European Commission. (2020, March 11). Changing our modes of production and consumption: the new action plan for the circular economy shows the way forward towards a climate-neutral and competitive economy in which consumers have a say. Press release.

[2] European Parliament & Council of the European Union. (2022). Decision (EU) 2022/591 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 6 April 2022 on a General Union Environment Action Programme to 2030. Official Journal of the European Union.

[3] ISO. (2020). ISO 14006:2020 [Environmental management systems

Guidelines for incorporating ecodesign]

[4] Ecodesign Pole. (n.d.). The principles of ecodesign.

[5] Vallet, F., Eynard, B., Millet, D., Mahut, S. G., Tyl, B., & Bertoluci, G. (2013). Using ecodesign tools: An overview of experts' practices. Design Studies, 34(3), 345-377.

[6]. UNEP. (2011). Towards a Life Cycle Sustainability Assessment.

[7] European Commission. (2018). Supporting information to the characterisation factors of recommended EF Life Cycle Impact Assessment method.

[8] UNEP. (2020). Guidelines for Social Life Cycle Assessment of Products and Organisations 2020.;jsessionid=2509BEB874CE4254C16D37F212ABC220

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