The Product Life Cycle
Have you ever given thought to the impact of your activities on the environment? The activities performed by you and manufacturers may have a bigger impact on the environment than you realize. To reduce the negative impacts, environmental considerations must be introduced in the process of product development of manufacturers. The environmental impact of energy, materials, and toxicity of the product’s whole life cycle must be considered by the manufacturers. The life cycle of a product starts with the extraction of raw materials from the earth and finishes when the products are recycled, reused or disposed of after usage. Presently, most of the production goes straight to dump yards or landfills after use and not recycled. The main objective of the product life cycle is to make a continuous loop by recycling the materials in the same process. Manufacturing the materials back will conserve the mineral resources of the earth and reduce wastage.
There are many benefits and opportunities for manufacturers who will start following environmentally sustainable practices. Some of the advantages are the requirement of low energy and raw materials, reduced activities of mining and transportation, reduction in costs and enhanced reputation among customers.
Alternative straws (paper, steel, bamboo, silicone etc.)
Stage 1. Extraction of Raw Materials
For the production of goods, first, the raw materials are needed to be extracted from the earth. The examples of extraction of raw materials are cutting trees and processing them into paper, wood or pulp, refining sand into semiconductors or glass, pumping oil and mining metal ore. Transportation and energy required for them are also included in the raw materials.
Stage 2. Manufacturing
Manufacturing is the process of transforming raw materials into actual products through tools and machinery. Innovative manufacturing of products helps to reduce the number of raw materials needed to manufacture a product. It also involves combining parts into subassemblies and combining subassemblies into final products. The packaging of products for distribution is also included in this stage.
Stage 3. Distribution
The third stage in the product life cycle is the distribution of products. It involves the handling and transportation of products in retail outlets. The mode of transportation, vehicle, fuels, advertising media, and staff are also included in this stage. Improved product packaging can reduce the costs of transportation which will also help reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
Stage 4. Use of the product
Consumers start using the product when it reaches them. The consumption of the product involves the installation of products, regular usage, maintenance and repair of the product. Every time a product is used, a small or even larger portion of it is always wasted. For example, the containers of products are discarded by consumers every time. In this stage, the main objective should be the minimum wastage of products.
Stage 5. Disposal of the product
The key component and the most vital stage is the disposal of products as it is a part of sustainability performance. It includes energy requirements for recycling. Consumers dispose of products by a collection system. It is the collectors who decide if the disposed of products are going to be recycled or just put in the landfills. If the products are recyclable, they are disassembled and sent into recycling centers. If they are not fit for recycling, they are landfilled or incinerated.
Assessment of products from a life cycle point of view can be tough for the manufacturers. But recycling will have a positive impact on the manufacturing unit and the environment as well. Many multinational corporations utilize a life cycle assessment software tool to analyze the potential impact on the environment. With the proper measurement of material use, impact, and energy consumption, it can lead to environmental sustainability as a corporate goal that will lead to a better business.