Even during my time as LCA practitioner in the 90s, I saw the work as a part of a more environmental friendly product development. There was at that time that some people that saw LCA more as a tool to manipulate the truth and prove a lot of environmental benefits of their own product compared to others. I think today this is mainly history, although some new practitioners could still fall into the pit. The main focus for me was to get the benefit of the analysis done of the product such as better materials, changes in product concept, other choices of materials and suppliers, etc.
During my time at the research institute, we developed some guidelines in material selection, something that came to open my eyes for how controversial this seems to be for some companies in business. When we advocated materials including lower energy and renewability some companies, which manufactured materials not recommended, took offence and they managed to convince the publisher not to publish the wizard. We solved it in another way, however. Today, perhaps this would not have happened, what do I know, but it suddenly became clear to me that attempts to influence through simplification of a complex reality was very controversial. It was also the same kind of criticism that LCA results were often gained at the time.
During my time as an environmental manager at the furniture company I belonged to the product development division, so green product development was the focus. Here I learned another thing, namely that there may be corporate vision at very high long-term plan that is pointing in a very positive direction, but where the daily work becomes a constant compromise with financial calculations and design issues. Now after a few more years and in a different time, maybe it's easier to drive an environmental product development. But I have so much insight even today in many companies, large and small, to realize that the problem unfortunately often remains. It feels like the top management of many companies point out the direction, but that the employees then get stuck in a morass of daily problems and where it stops, as well as by.
I therefore tried to launch a book project. I realized then that the idea probably was not ready yet, since even if I was supported by a publishing house, I didn’t manage to get a working script finished. Since 2010 I work instead on a new concept with Professor Conrad Luttropp at KTH. We have teamed up and are writing a book together. It will for some parts be based on an earlier work that Conrad made and some parts are based on the material that I had from my previous book projects. We believe at this stage that it will be called 10 Golden Principles and will be primarily a textbook for colleges in eco-design, but will likely also be of interest to the business community. The book covers the classic areas of function, hazardous materials, production, emissions, energy, materials, hygiene, life, but also some new angles such as human resource, the environmental context of the company, and the information economy. It feels like we have, in an interesting way, captured and applied the concept of sustainability in a method in which I have appreciated the development process as a whole.