WE.3.B || SDG Corporate Responsibility

Zuin, Stefano; Saitov, Rustem; Celotto, Monica; Stabon, Elisa; Nori, Michele; Colombera, Giovanni

The Electrolux Group has recently launched its new sustainability framework (For the Better 2030) to continue to create better and more sustainable living for people around the world. Considering the growing global concerns, in particular in relation to limited natural resources and climate change, there is the need to improve the environmental performance of our products, and the Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) methodology may contribute to this need in a systemic manner, considering all life cycle stages of products, technological efficiency, and use pattern aspects. This study evaluates the impact of household washing machines (WMs) used in Europe and considers some proposals for a potential impact reduction. Life cycle impacts were calculated with the Global Warming Potential (GWP; kg CO2-eq), water use (m3; Available Water Remaining-AWARE), and Mineral Resource Scarcity (MRS; kg Cu-eq) impact categories. The study included different washing cycles and use patterns, mainly change of washing temperature, detergent dose, and type, as well as the combination of that aspects. The results highlighted the importance of the use phase in leading the impacts, especially in GWP and water use impact categories. Electricity and detergent consumed during the washing cycles contribute strongly to the use stage impact (e.g. around 70% of the overall GWP is due to electricity and detergent). The raw materials stage is the second main contribution to all impact categories (e.g. 40% of the total MRS). Concerning the use pattern, there is a reduction of the impact for all impact categories (with up to 37% for the MRS potential, and around 33% for the GWP when we switch from ECO 40°C to COTTON 30°C washing cycle). The sustainability assessment of domestic appliances should then include several aspects, from the efficiency of the products (e.g. energy and water efficiency), to the change of the energy mix at country level, up to use patterns that strongly affect the overall impact.