EcoDesign is an internal innovative tool that helps to assess new products in regard to sustainability compared to the products already existing on the market. The tool makes sure that all innovations are checked and show positive impact on the environment. EcoDesign addresses the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) 9 - Industry Innovation and Infrastructure, and 12 - Responsible Consumption and Production.
Hanken School of Economics
EcoDesign is a tool created by several teams in Ahlstrom-Munksjö, such as R&D, Product Development, Product Management and Marketing. The purpose to create such tool arose from the need to analyze the progress of the company in terms of sustainability and to make sure that the company is operating according to its mission. (Interview 2019)
EcoDesign serves as a monitoring indicator for new innovations created by Ahlstrom-Munksjö by comparing them to other products already being in the portfolio of the company and to the products created by competitors. Each product has to be evaluated based on the checklist from EcoDesign and as a result it is possible to assess the performance of the product from “much better” to “much worse”. (Ahlstrom-Munksjö 2019)
As stated before, EcoDesign addesses SDGs 9 and 12. SDG 9. SDG 9 is affected in a way that EcoDesign is a technological innovation, not a product. Innovation can be implemented in different industries, for different processes and multiple products. SDG 12 is influenced by the consequences of using EcoDesign. The tool is aimed to decrease the footprint on the environment, usage of raw materials and chemicals, increase functionality and durability of the product. All in all, products that go through the EcoDesign check are more environmentally conscious from the perspective of production and consumption.
In our interview with Carine Lebrun, she states that she is responsible for the marketing side and that she wants to be the voice of the customer. She likes to meet the stakeholders of the value supply chain in order to better understand what their needs are. This is not just for the technical aspects but also for the sustainability needs. Sustainability is a passion for her, and she believes it is a major topic in the world today. She has been working in this field for many years. Sustainable business solutions are the mission of Ahlstrom-Munskjö. (Lebrun, 2019)
Regarding EcoDesign, she states that innovation is important to the functionality that they can develop in the product. It helps to provide a more sustainable offering to the market. It also helps to evaluate the sustainability performance of the products that they are developing. That is why it is important to have a tool that can do that. EcoDesign does exactly that. It compares a product that they are developing and an already existing one. This is done based on four criteria. The first one is using fewer resources. So, if they can offer something to the market that will use less materials or energy it increases performance. Another category is the functionality performance. Furthermore, there is the responsible use of chemicals. It is important to reduce or eliminate the usage of hazardous chemicals. Lastly, they look at the afterlife of the materials produced. (Lebrun, 2019)
In order to measure what the company does, it is important to have a tool to analyze the different products. EcoDesign is helpful to provide feedback to the company on how their products are doing and if they are making progress. This is not a simple solution but rather a long journey, which includes many steps. EcoDesign makes it possible to track the progress year by year on the different markets, that they are serving. They need a monitoring indicator to help with their analysis. (Lebrun, 2019)
EcoDesign was created by a multidisciplinary team. They had a committee of sustainability and innovation areas representatives. It was important to work with people from different fields of expertise, because representatives of different business units could include important specificities into technology. (Lebrun, 2019)
Since EcoDesign is a new tool, Ahlstrom-Munksjö has not been able to evaluate its impacts. EcoDesign will be a valuable tool because it will help improve the sustainability of the products by creating new, more sustainable products. The tool also enables continuous improvements as Ahlstrom-Munksjö can track the progress. In the future, EcoDesign tool can benefit the business and the environment in several ways. (Interview 2019)
Products with EcoDesign have less impact on the environment as these products will, for example, use less material, be more durable and functional and have safer material. More sustainable materials also enable more sustainable end-of-life scenario for the products. EcoDesign tool also has an important role in sustainability strategy and engagement with the customers. As a technological innovation, EcoDesign tool can be used in different industries, for different processes and multiple products. EcoDesign encourages the customers of Ahlstrom-Munksjö to focus on more sustainable products when Ahlstrom-Munksjö has, for example, more sustainable materials to offer for them. (Interview 2019)
Carine Lebrun, Marketing Manager
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Business Website: https://www.ahlstrom-munksjo.com/
Year Founded: 1851
Number of Employees: 5001 to 10000
Ahlstrom-Munksjö is a multinational company specifying on creating sustainable fiber-based products, such as decor paper, food packages, construction materials and medical goods and with capacity of 8000 employees. The mission of Ahlstrom-Munksjö is to provide sustainable goods for everyday life and create alternatives to non-renewable materials. Customers of the company are both individuals and industrial entities. (Ahlstrom-Munksjö 2019)