October 11, 2016
Every day, consumers are faced with decisions both big and small, spoiled for choice, be it on the grocery store shelf, at the car dealer or when building a house.
Most people make their decision based on numbers. Often enough, this is the price, but it can also be the performance or due to concerns about environmental sustainability. But how is one to choose when all of these issues are important, and you want to buy a product that is cost-effective and performs well but is also manufactured, used and disposed of with the least amount of impact on the environment?
These kinds of questions are not only relevant to consumers but also to the industry. This is why BASF developed the Eco-Efficiency Analysis (EEA) in 1996 and thus became a pioneer when it comes to quantifying sustainability and presenting this data in an easy-to-understand way.
“With the EEA, we compare the economic and ecological advantages and disadvantages of several solutions in their respective application, throughout the entire lifecycle – from producing raw materials to using the products to disposal,” explains Dr. Peter Saling (ZZS/S), Director of Sustainability Methods. “For example, this is how we calculated the best solution for mineral water packaging in terms of cost-efficiency and environmental friendliness in a joint packaging study held with several partners. The result surprised quite a few people: PET reusable bottles are more eco-efficient than glass bottles. This is due to the amount of effort needed for cleaning, which is detrimental to the environment in and of itself, and due to the high transport loads of glass bottles; we take all of these points into account during the analysis and assess them.” Saling is one of the founders of the EEA and accompanied the development of the method over the last 20 years.
More than 600 studies have been conducted with the EEA since its introduction and thus, it has actively contributed to business success.
The results and data have served BASF, its partners and customers, but also the entire industry as an important basis for strategic decision-making. New or further developments of products are also supported, such as marketing activities. For example, a multitude of further consumer products was also studied comprehensively aside from mineral water bottles, including floor coverings, packaging materials, insulation materials, men's shirts or even dishwasher tabs.
Additionally, the method was fundamentally renewed, adjusted to modern requirements and equipped with new assessment options last year.
Dr. Peter Saling wrote a book for the 20th birthday of the Eco-Efficiency Analysis. “The BASF Eco-Efficiency Analysis – A 20-year success story” reports on the beginnings of the method and its further development over two decades in addition to presenting numerous example studies.
You can order the book here.