What makes a product environmentally friendly?

At present, most people have probably understood the value of sustainability and the importance of the products we produce and use affecting the climate and our environment as little as possible.

What makes a product environmentally friendly?

But what really determines how sustainable a product is?

In the lubricating oil industry, there is currently no standard for what can be classified as a sustainable product, but this is something we at FUCHS would very much like to change.

When you have to make an environmental assessment of a product, it is easy to stare blindly at the production stage, but the question is far more complex than that. It has become clear to us when we have analyzed our own business. An example is the environmental efficiency analysis that we performed of the entire life cycle of three of the most common hydraulic oils today. The result of the analysis shows that the answer is sometimes different than you might think…

The three hydraulic oils tested – Standard monograde, Standard multigrade and Premium multigrade – were all based on mineral oil. The hydraulic oils were carefully examined after being used in a crawler excavator for 8,000 hours.

Different results with different perspectives

It is far from only low CO emissions that count when it comes to the sustainability of a product. Of course, there are several aspects that come into play, but if we look at the climate footprint of the various products, we see something interesting. The results differ depending on whether we are based on the production phase or the application phase.

What makes a product environmentally friendly?  1

In the production phase, Standard Monograde clearly has the lowest CO₂ emissions, as this hydraulic oil has a simpler production process, where the production itself causes almost no emissions at all. In comparison, the production of the more complex and high-quality hydraulic oil Premium Multigrade requires significantly higher energy consumption. But what happens when we put the excavator to work? Yes, then the results are reversed.

Both a benefit for the environment and money to save

The least sustainable hydraulic oil in the production phase thus proved to be by far the most sustainable when looking at the whole. The high-quality hydraulic oils (Premium multigrade) provide both reduced friction and increased pump power during the application phase (compared to a Standard monograde product), which in turn reduces fuel consumption and increases the life of both hydraulic oil and machine.

The results show that the high quality hydraulic oil saves approximately 9,600 liters of diesel during an application phase of 8,000 operating hours. This not only corresponds to a CO₂ equivalent of approximately 30 tonnes, but also entails reduced costs for diesel fuel of approximately DKK 90,000! At the same time, the improved service life showed that the consumption of hydraulic oil decreases significantly in the 8,000 operating hours, from 1,600 liters (Standard monograde) to 400 liters (Premium multigrade), and that the maintenance interval could also be extended.

These are numbers that speak for themselves. Organic and economical. There is simply a lot to be gained from researching which solution is the most sustainable for you. You can find a more detailed description of the environmental impact assessment in this article.

A new way of looking at things

The results of this study should make many in the industry start thinking differently. The fact that a product can be better for the environment as a whole, even if it involves a larger CO₂ emission during production, is a completely different way of looking at things.

We hope that our research can give rise to new ideas about the various aspects that should be taken into account in an assessment of what can be classified as a sustainable product. Our ambition is to set a new EU standard and create a new way of thinking throughout the industry.


Source: IT-Kanalen by it-kanalen.dk.

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