Ecological sensitivity in the public domain has now existed for more than thirty years. Within companies, however, it is a more recent phenomenon. But for about a decade, between the expectations expressed by customers in their invitations to tender, the requirements of the legislator and the awakening of management, their concerns relating to sustainable development and corporate responsibility have been endlessly growing.
Neopost, as a group of European origin, the continent where environmental regulations are more constraining for manufacturers, had by 2004 set up a first Steering Committee dedicated to sustainable development, and had started the thought process, both on its products and on its processes.
At the conclusion of this exploratory period, marked by Neopost obtaining the ISO 14001 qualifications (environmental management system) and OHSAS 18001 (health and safety at work management system), its CSR Committee chose to deploy at Group level an ecodesign approach Ecodesign@neopost project).
The improvements obtained thanks to the Ecodesign@Neopost project relate both to the environmental performances specific to the machines, and to those of the processes implemented to design and manufacture them, and also to transport and recycle them.
At the process level, special attention has been paid to remanufacturing, i.e. to Neopost’s capacity to recover its products from the field, to inspect them, to strip them down, to clean them, to update them - with equivalent functionalities – to test them, to pack them and finally to put them back on the market, with warranties as for new products. Remanufacturing enables the environmental impact to be reduced by up to 40%. This concerns in particular, and initially, the carbon footprint, the raw material savings, and the manufacturing processes. Thereafter, thought will be able to be given to the design of the machines itself, in order to enhance the remanufacturing processes even further.
In conclusion, the overhaul of this sector is both a consequence of the ecodesign approach, and an essential catalyst of our thinking on the way in which companies are evolving, on their economic models and on how they are organised. In a world that is becoming more service-oriented rather than product-oriented, and is heading towards circular economies that advocate a re-use ad infinitum of material flows, ecodesign constitutes a major asset within the companies that are implementing it.
In 2012, we chose to publish the first white paper of Ecodesign, an historical and technical account of this already long story.
Based on Neopost’s experience, it was designed not only to make the ecodesign concepts easier to understand, but also to encourage the transfer of good practices.