Hydro has developed EcoDesign, a new method for the development of sustainable aluminum products. The method provides a means for creative collaboration between designers and materials engineers enabling them to improve the functionality of a product, as well as its social and environmental footprint. This complements the growing number of products and services the company is offering in line with its sustainability strategy, including the low-carbon aluminum brands Hydro REDUXA and Hydro CIRCAL.
“Most of the cost of a product and its environmental impacts are committed early in the design process, on the drawing board. This is where circular economy begins, and this is where Hydro EcoDesign has a role to play,” said Egil Hogna, executive vice president for Hydro Extruded Solutions. “We aim to go beyond reducing negative impacts, to improving positive impacts.”
Hydro developed EcoDesign in cooperation with consultants from the Environmental Protection Encouragement Agency (EPEA), part of Drees & Sommer. The methodology structure is based on procedures and requirements that identify opportunities and priorities for making products more sustainable.
“Teaming with EPEA allowed us to build a framework with a partner experienced in material health, sustainable design and product certification,” said Jean-Marc Moulin, head of sustainability for Extruded Solutions. “The key is to make sure all steps and criteria are specific, thus minimizing the risk of greenwashing.”
Through EcoDesign, a community of specially trained professionals across Europe will assist customer projects by bringing expertise in material selection, alloy performance, life cycle analysis, surface treatment, packaging, transport, and lightweighting. These specialists cover topics such as designing for disassembly, disruptive business models, take-back systems, supplier engagement, packaging, and enhanced recycling. The method will also endorse the use of several proven concepts from the circular economy community.
Hydro Extruded Solutions plans to launch EcoDesign this autumn in Europe. About 40 engineers have been trained and are ready to support EcoDesign projects, leveraging Hydro’s network of more than 30 aluminum extrusion plants across the continent. Most of the manufacturing sites are certified according to Aluminium Stewardship Initiative (ASI) Performance Standard. Many have also achieved certification to the ASI Chain of Custody Standard, which allows the sites to sell ASI-certified material to customers.
EcoDesign in Practice
Buzon Pedestal International, a European company headquartered in Belgium, took advantage of the Hydro EcoDesign system to improve the aluminum gutter profiles used in their package of aluminum products. Architects and designers use Buzon’s products to raise terraces, pool decks, and other similar building applications, such as the Hammersmith building in London (pictured at the top of the page).
Keeping both innovation and sustainability in mind, Buzon already manufactures fully recyclable systems. In addition, its operations are carbon neutral. Utilizing the EcoDesign methodology provides the company with yet another way to move toward a more circular economy.
“We have to innovate, we have to bring more quality, we have to be greener,” said Laurent Buzon, CEO of Buzon Pedestal International. “We need to be sure that the terrace applications raised with our products will remain so for the total life of the building. As such, we need to be sure the materials are of the highest quality we need, including mechanical characteristics and resistance to weathering. And finally, we need to be sure our products can be easily recycled or re-used once the building or application reaches its end-of life.”
Besides adding new features and functions to Buzon’s gutter profile, Hydro EcoDesign suggested optimizing the weight and length of the aluminum profiles, adding anti-slip protection, integrating LED strips for additional safety on doorsteps, optimizing fasteners and connections for faster assembly and increased security in public areas, and increasing corrosion resistance of the aluminum when its is used in pool environments.
“We were impressed by the ideation process in the Hydro EcoDesign concept and the preparation done by the Hydro team,” said Buzon. “This will allow us to trigger ideas and improvements for the future.”