WE.1.D || Sustainability of Business Models and Innovations

McHardy, Cara; Van Hemelryck, Steven; Adibi, Naeem; Voorend, Wannes

Ecodesign is a holistic design method which brings stakeholders, experts and decision makers together in a brainstorming process focused on addressing potential environmental, social and economic impacts of a project, process or product in (re)development. In a digital workshop setting, targeted ideation exercises are completed, alternative scenarios and Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) are presented and critiqued, all of which leads to a clearer picture of impact hotspots to address. These hotspots are translated into a plan of action that is followed-up throughout the project. Although ecodesign has long been touted as a methodology for improvement of ecological indicators, systematic application of this process to achieve company-wide implementation proves elusive for many companies. One barrier to implementation is the lack of concrete and practical (ready-to-implement) methodologies that are flexible enough to apply to specific project types. This article presents the efforts of Colruyt Group (CG), a large multinational retail and wholesaler, to develop a customised ecodesign procedure for full integration into their design and development processes. Several methodologies are tested and tailored to determine which are the most suited to the needs of various project types and development phases. These methodologies include design-focused workshops as well as engineering tools to track potential project outcomes from a life-cycle-based perspective. Test cases carried out within the R&D&I department include several vertical farming projects and a rainwater-to-drinking water installation. The goal of this project is to develop a workable process manual for the implementation of ecodesign in a systematic manner throughout CG, thereby increasing awareness and participation in the circular economy. Lessons learned are applicable to large and small companies in their quest to incorporate a sustainable, holistic design process within project development tracks.