Insights into the development and use of a quantitative eco-design tool for the early development stages of medical devices

Main Presenter: Ellen Meijer 

Co-Authors: Isobel Filipova

Eco-design tools for the early stages of the development process are often qualitative. Quantitative assessments of environmental impact, like Life Cycle Assessment (LCA), can be difficult to apply early on, when a lot of questions are still open, so they tend to be applied at the very end of the development process. As a result, they function more as a bookkeeping tool than an eco-design tool.

However, using LCA already in the early stages of the development process has a lot of potential benefits, like being able to capture the effect of design changes across the whole product life cycle and the ability to look across a wide range of impact categories to see if trade-offs occur. In addition, wider knock-on effects of small changes can be captured.

Owen Mumford, a medical device developer and producer, wants to include quantitative environmental considerations in new product development from the very beginning. PRé and Owen Mumford worked together to develop an eco-design tool based on scenario analysis, with the aim to give the Owen Mumford product development team the ability to quickly model various versions of products as they’re brainstorming. This gives the developers the insights they need to understand the environmental consequences of various designs right away.

The tool is focused specifically on the medical product category and tailored to the Owen Mumford production and distribution setup, so that the level of accuracy is as high as possible. It can be used to model any type of product Owen Mumford develops and produces, from injector pens to sampling devices. It allows for the analysis of systemic and radical changes, as well as smaller design changes.
With this tool, the product developers can assess the potential environmental impact of new design ideas on their own, without needing detailed LCA knowledge. In addition, the results are available instantly and can be easily compared across different design concepts. Now, environmental considerations can be an active component of the ideation process at Owen Mumford.

In our presentation, we’ll share our experiences from the tool development and the first months of using it within Owen Mumford. We’ll discuss the challenges and benefits of setting it up and applying it, as well as learnings from its application.

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