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Ecodesign Practices in a Furniture Industrial Cluster of Southern Brazil: From Incipient Practices to Improvement

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Ecodesign Practices in a Furniture Industrial Cluster of Southern Brazil: From Incipient Practices to Improvement
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  Ecodesign Practices in a Furniture Industrial Cluster of SouthernBrazil: From Incipient Practices to Improvement  Miguel Afonso Sellitto * , Juliane Luchese † , Jéssica Mariella Bauer  ‡ ,Gislaine Gabrielle Saueressig § and Cláudia Viviane Viegas  ¶  Universidade do Vale do Rio dos Sinos, Campus São Leopoldo Av. Unisinos, 950-Cristo Rei, São Leopoldo-RS, 93022-000, Brazil  * sellitto@unisinos.br  †  julianeluchese@yahoo.com.br  ‡  jehbauer@hotmail.com § gislaine.s@gmail.com  ¶  claudiavv@unisinos.br  Received 6 May 2016Revised 24 August 2016Accepted 9 January 2017Published Eco-design practices are still incipient in Brazilian furniture industries, although someimprovement can be identi 󿬁 ed in recent years. This paper describes the performance of anindustrial furniture cluster located in Southern Brazil regarding such practices. An em-bedded case study involving four companies  —  two manufacturers and two suppliers  — was carried out using in-depth interviews. It enabled to depict particularities of how thesecompaniesdealwithsustainableaspectsofdesignintheirrespectivebusiness.Criticalissuesidenti 󿬁 ed as obstacles for eco-design implementation in these industries were: control of both, productive process and product durability; product distribution; rational use of spacefor transportation and storage. Minor dif  󿬁 culties were identi 󿬁 ed regarding the lack of re-newable energy sources and the scarcity of knowledge dissemination. Such hurdles couldprovideopportunitiesand supportfutureeco-designstrategyimplementation, improvingthecompetitiveness and contributing for the eco-ef  󿬁 ciency of the Brazilian furniture industry. Keywords : Eco-design; furniture industry; product durability; energy; transportation;packaging; reverse logistics. * Corresponding author.Journal of Environmental Assessment Policy and Management Vol. 19, No. 1 (March 2017) 1750001 (25 pages)© World Scienti 󿬁 c Publishing Europe Ltd.DOI: 10.1142/S1464333217500016 February 24, 2017 10:44:10am WSPC/154-JEAPM 1750001 ISSN: 1464-3332 2 nd  Reading 1750001-1  Introduction The furniture sector is usually associated to a consumerist lifestyle, with envi-ronmental consequences (Maxwell  et al. , 2006) as wastes ’  generation from the production processes (Calantone  et al. , 2010), and early disposal of goods(Lihra   et al. , 2012). This situation increases pressures from environmental au-thorities, consumers and stakeholders (Walton  et al. , 1998; Wolfgang  et al. , 2005;Olkowicz and Grzegorzewska, 2014; Gunasekaran  et al. , 2015).Diverse types and levels of environmental impacts can arise along the supplychain, depending on the decisions taken in the several steps of the product project and its respective life cycle (Baumann  et al. , 2002). In fact, the environmentalperspective adoption in current industrial production strategies is widely recom-mended by scholars (Beamon, 1999; Hauschild  et al. , 2004; Green Jr   et al. , 2012;Gunasekaran  et al. , 2015). Collaborative action and processes integration amongmembers of the supply chain can ease the mitigation of environmental impactssrcinated from the industrial activity, achieving consumers ’  expectations andrequirements of regulatory agencies (Walton  et al. , 1998).Design incorporation as strategy in the development of new products ispivotal for competitiveness in the furniture industry (Berginc  et al. , 2011). Eco-design techniques, particularly, are even more important, because they combinecreativity and innovation with environmental standards in order to positivelyreinforce the corporative image (Plouffe  et al. , 2011). Eco-design tools andmethods overcome end-of-pipe technologies (van Weenen, 1995) because they embrace preventive solutions (Carrillo-Hermosilla   et al. , 2010). Cleaner pro-duction approaches support both, pro-active and reactive environmental posturewhile allowing wastes management outside the place of generation. Eco-design,instead, aims to avoid this situation, thus being considered more desirable.Advantages of eco-design rely on the prevention of environmental damage al-ready in the project. Speci 󿬁 cally in the furniture industry, heavier impacts arerepresented by wastes generation, therefore preventive approaches are manda-tory (Olkowicz and Grzegorzewska , 2014). Eco-design practices in this sector  are also encouraged because they mean costs reduction (Borchardt   et al. , 2011),less legal pressures (Costa and Gouvinhas, 2003) and improvement in corporateimage (Dangelico  et al. , 2013). As a result, customers get more satis 󿬁 ed andestablish a long term relationship of loyalty with industry (Plouffe  et al. , 2011).Despite these incentives, eco-design is not fully adopted by the furniture industry(Pigosso  et al. , 2013). Dif  󿬁 culties for reducing wastes ’  generation and for materials reusing are remarkable. A wide variety of wastes is generated, and it   M. A. Sellitto et al. February 24, 2017 10:44:10am WSPC/154-JEAPM 1750001 ISSN: 1464-3332 2 nd  Reading 1750001-2  entails more complexity for its management, specially in the lack of quali 󿬁 edprofessionals to this activity (Lopes and Azevedo, 2014). The purpose of this paper is to describe eco-design practices in a furnitureindustrial cluster located in Southern Brazil (Adu  et al. , 2014). The study aims at identifying dif  󿬁 culties and possibilities that have not yet been exploited in thetargeted companies  —  two manufacturers and two suppliers. An embedded casestudy involving four industrial unities was adopted as research method. Aframework is proposed to assess whether eco-design practices are present in thecompanies. Such framework, based on in-depth literature review, is recommendedfor application in other furniture companies. There is a wide variety of eco-designtools available in the literature (Bovea and Pérez-Belis, 2012), but there are not  deep studies (Brones  et al. , 2014), and respective practices are not fully imple-mented in the furniture industry (Mirabella   et al. , 2014). According to van Hemel and Cramer  (2002), due to the lack of knowledge and misapplication, many companies mistakenly believe that the consideration of environmental aspects inproduct life cycle generate more costs than bene 󿬁 ts.Studies on eco-design have proliferated in recent years, but are diverse in their approaches. González-García   et al.  (2011) investigated the relationships betweenenergy using and environmental damage. Borchardt   et al.  (2011) analysed eco-design in the footwear manufacturing, and Murakami  et al.  (2015) and Selitto et al.  (2012) in the process industry. Borchardt   et al.  (2009) and Wolfgang  et al. (2005) studied this subject in automotive industry. Speci 󿬁 cally in furniture in-dustry, it is possible to highlight the researches of  Mirabella   et al.  (2014) andBorchardt   et al.  (2012). In this last study, the authors propose a method for evaluating the degree of eco-design implementation in furniture companies. It ishighlighted the low concern by the companies, but also signi 󿬁 cant potential for improvement in their environmental performance.Eco-design is also referred to as Design for Environment (DfE), or Design for X(DfX). In this acronym, X refers to diverse factors considered in projects such as:Design for Assembly, Design for Maintenance, Design for Manufacture, Designfor Quality, Design for Reliability, Design for Cost, among others (Gungor andGupta, 1999; Kuo  et al. , 2001; Murakami  et al.  2015; Guidice  et al. , 2006; Gehin et al. , 2008; Ardente  et al. , 2014). The remainder of this paper presents a theo-retical review, the research methodology, results, discussion and conclusion. Eco-Design Industrial companies can minimise the generation of wastes and other impactsrelated to manufacturing through changes in their projects (Kurk and Eagan,  Ecodesign Practices in a Furniture Industrial Cluster of Southern Brazil  February 24, 2017 10:44:10am WSPC/154-JEAPM 1750001 ISSN: 1464-3332 2 nd  Reading 1750001-3  2008). Decisions taken in the design phase have direct consequences on their environmental impacts. The design process requires multi-criteria decision-making(Donnelly  et al. , 2006), which involve situations of trade-off: when a higher weight is assigned to one aspect, a divergent aspect receives a lower weight (Byggeth and Hochschorner , 2006). The product project usually involves several organisational sectors such as production, marketing and purchasing (Gehin  et al. ,2008), and requires decisions about the attributes that the product should incor-porate. This in 󿬂 uences the creation of perceived value by consumers (Bodewesand Berchicci, 2005). Regarding the overall costs of the product life cycle, it is estimated that up to55% are associated with the design phase, and up to 70% with manufacturingprocesses (Ulrich and Pearson, 1993). Competitive advantages come from design aspects incorporated in products (Ramani  et al. , 2010; Gmelin and Seuring, 2014) that can prevent environmental impacts (Alemida   et al.  2010). Material selection,manufacturing planning, distribution strategies and product delivery to consumerscan be planned in the design phase, as well as product management after itslifespan (Gungor and Gupta , 1999). Therefore, design is as pivotal to price, en- vironmental impacts prevention and product functionality (Boks, 2006; Çinar , 2005; Cobut   et al. , 2015).Eco-design is a strategy for the inclusion of environmental attributes in thedevelopment of products and in its related processes (Karlsson and Luttropp, 2006;Ramani  et al. , 2010; Pigosso  et al. , 2013; Pauw  et al. , 2014). Eco-design considersboth, environmental and economic aspects associated with the life cycle of pro-ducts and processes (Baumann  et al. , 2002; van Hemel and Cramer , 2002; Hauschild  et al. , 2004; Bahmed  et al. , 2005; Borchardt   et al. , 2009; Deutz  et al. ,2013), without compromising other essential criteria such as performance, func-tionality, quality and costs (van Weenen, 1995; Johansson, 2002). Therefore, every time environmental aspects are taken into account in the development of a product and throughout its lifespan (Byggeth and Hochschorner, 2006; Karlsson and Luttropp, 2006; Pigosso  et al. , 2013), with the preservation or improvement of itsperformance (Holdway  et al. , 2002), eco-design is a recurrent supportive strategy.In eco-design, functional requirements of the product are considered, such ascosts, aesthetics, functionality, durability, reliability, robustness, security, ergo-nomics and patentability (Kurk and Eagan, 2008; Pigosso  et al. , 2010, 2013). Health aspects, when covered, are not suf  󿬁 ciently explored (Bovea and Pérez-Belis, 2012; Cordella and Hidalgo, 2016). Eco-design also identi 󿬁 es the phases of the lifecycle inwhichenvironmentalimpactsoccur (Srivastava ,2007).Occasionally itispossibleto redesign products, improving eco-ef  󿬁 ciency through the use of alternative materials(Johansson, 2002) or through the adoption of new ways to meet required functions  M. A. Sellitto et al. February 24, 2017 10:44:10am WSPC/154-JEAPM 1750001 ISSN: 1464-3332 2 nd  Reading 1750001-4  (Garcia and Romeiro Filho, 2008). It implies more ef  󿬁 cient use of resources, re-duction of risks and wastes, and easiness for recycling without jeopardising per-formance criteria (Johansson, 2002; Byggeth and Hochschorner , 2006). Drivers for eco-design adoption can be endogenous or exogenous. Some en-dogenous drivers are: cost savings in transportation and in raw materials using,with consequent wastes ’  management; increasing variety in product offerings; needof environmentally responsible corporate image; reduction in the number of as-sembly equipment; and overall cut of investment in industrial processes (Vercal-steren, 2001; van Hemel and Cramer , 2002; Costa and Gouvinhas, 2003; Hauschild et al. , 2004; Boks, 2006; Borchardt   et al. , 2009; Kengpol and Boonkanit , 2011; Wiggett and Marcelle, 2013). Exogenous drivers comprise, but are not limited to: need of legislation accomplishment; availability of eco-ef  󿬁 cient materials; attain-ment of supply chain partners ’  requirements; satisfaction of consumers ’  demands onenvironmentally friendly products; and development of new technologies (Vercal-steren, 2001; van Hemel and Cramer , 2002; Costa and Gouvinhas, 2003; Kengpol and Boonkanit , 2011; Russo  et al. , 2011; Wiggett and Marcelle, 2013). Eco-design adoption can stumble in the lack of: technical solutions, transpar-ency in legislation, clarity in the calculation of bene 󿬁 ts and perceived responsi-bility (van Hemel and Cramer , 2002; Wiggett and Marcelle, 2013). Other gaps relate to lack of capacity building of workers; excessive complexity in product andprocess development (Lindahl, 2006; Pochat   et al. , 2007; Bovea and Pérez-Belis, 2012); lack of standardisation for the assessment of designed products (Bahmed et al. , 2005); lack of integration between eco-design and product development;disassociation related to management and manufacturing strategies (Baumann et al. , 2002; Johansson, 2006; Luttropp and Lagerstedt , 2006; Pochat   et al. , 2007);dif  󿬁 culties for de 󿬁 ning and prioritising practices to be employed (Boks and Ste-vels, 2007); inappropriate language for the development of products that meet  environmental requirements (Lofthouse, 2006); obstacles for cooperation, com- munication and access to information (Poulikidou  et al. , 2014; Bey  et al. , 2013).Furniture industry does not differ signi 󿬁 cantly from other sectors with respect toeco-design planning and practice. An overview of drivers for design in the fur-niture industry is proposed by Olkowicz and Grzegorzewska  (2014). Such authors highlight as particularity of this sector the signi 󿬁 cant presence of small andmedium-sized enterprises (SMEs). Eco-Design Strategies Eco-design practices enable the coexistence of required functionality of productsand environmental concerns. Sustainability goals can be also considered design  Ecodesign Practices in a Furniture Industrial Cluster of Southern Brazil  February 24, 2017 10:44:10am WSPC/154-JEAPM 1750001 ISSN: 1464-3332 2 nd  Reading 1750001-5
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