Authors: Carlos Alejandre, Ortzi Akizu-Gardoki, Erlantz Lizundia
Full-text article link: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.spc.2022.04.007
The elevated energy consumption of the society we live in is proposing solutions to reduce CO2 emissions by using new and more efficient technologies. But, can environmental impacts be reduced consuming more? And to what extent do “renew plans” to replace existing appliances with new more efficient ones make sense, or are they just merely commercial strategies? In this new research carried out by the Life Cycle Thinking Group and Ekopol, in the Master in Circular Economy and the Master in Project Management of the University of the Basque Country UPV/EHU, it is concluded that: the use of renewable energies in household appliances would delay the need to change them due to environmental reasons until they have been in use for about 30 years.
In the study carried out by the student Carlos Alejandre in his Master’s Thesis, the equivalent CO2 impact of three representative household appliances has been analysed: microwave, dishwasher and washing machine. In all three cases, the necessary efficiency that the new appliances must have to replace the existing ones for environmental reasons of impact reduction has been calculated. On the other hand, the years of replacement of the existing appliances in different scenarios have been calculated. The modelled scenarios were as follows:
– Scenario 0 (baseline): impacts with current technology.
– Scenario 1 (reduction of impacts in manufacturing): reducing weight by 10%.
– Scenario 2 (reduction of impacts in manufacturing): reducing weight by 10% and integrating 50% of recycled materials.
– Scenario 3 (reduction of impacts in use): integrating 100% renewable energies.
– Scenario 4 (reduction of impacts in use): integrating 100% renewable energies and efficient use with 10% reduction of consumption.
The study has concluded that, when replacing the existing microwaves, dishwashers or washing machines, their efficiency should be 26%, 10% and 35% higher, respectively (in the baseline scenario). Furthermore, it has been pointed out that, by integrating renewable energies during the use phase of the existing microwave, dishwasher and washing machine, the need to replace them must be delayed, for environmental reasons, until 30.3, 26.2 and 33.9 years of life, respectively. Therefore, this study shows that, in order to move towards reducing CO2 emissions, it is more efficient (environmentally speaking) to invest in renewable energies than in “renove plans” for household appliances.