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Outline ways in which global energy usage resulting from the iron and steel sector could be minimised, indicating the feasibility and impact of the measures you propose

The steel industry consumes the largest amounts of energy in the manufacture of iron and steel (mining, transport, smelting), processing (heating, forming) and transport (at every stage)


Manufacture from less ore

  • Reduction in amount of steel unfeasible
  • 40% of steel is recycled material
  • Increase efficiency & amount of recycling
    • Current recycling: purification of steel, then melted and re-shaped.
    • New approach: re-use steel without melting (e.g. construction steel) by recycling through minor shaping and cutting.
    • Questionable at what scale this could be done – complex logistic, changes to how its traded and used


What is ISO 14001, and why might a company seek certification of its conformance with this standard?

ISO 14001 is not a set of regulations but an internationally recognized standard that defines the criteria for a management system for developing and controlling those aspects of a firm's operations that can have an effect on the environment

ISO14001 accreditation requires an Environmental Policy to be in existence within the organisation, fully supported by senior management, and outlining the policies of the company, not only to the staff but to the public. The policy must be written in non-technical language. It needs to clarify compliance with Environmental Legislation that may affect the organization and stress a commitment to continuous improvement. It should provide an overview of the company’s activities on the site and a description of those activities, and a clear picture of the company’s operations.



Protection against attack from the media

Business – may provide a competitive advantage

Risk management policy – Provides a proactive approach to risk management

Conformance or certification? – The first to conform to the requirements

Entry to controlled markets – certification likely to be required for doing business on an international level.

Public recognition – May provide a competitive advantage – better public image


What is an eco-audit?

An eco-audit is a life cycle analysis tool for assesing the environmental impact of a product captured by a meausre such as energy (or CO2). 

It does not look at factors such as toxicity of materials

For energy payback calculation - energy consumed in the lifecycle is the required output.

System boundaries are to some extent defined by CES but need to be considered explicitly.

In the 'use' phase, a contribution to electricity transimission infrastructure and maintenance could be included.



Explain how you would conduct an eco-audit to allow an estimate to be made of the energy payback period of a wind turbine.

Begin with a brief description of what an eco-audit is, and state clearly what the limitations of your analysis are.

Bried Description

An eco-audit is a simple life cycle analysis tool for assessing the environmental impact of a product, captured by a single measure such as energy consumption (or CO2 emissions).

It does not look at factors such as toxicity of materials.

For an energy payback calculation, energy consumed in the lifecycle is clearly the required output.

The system boundaries need to be considered explicitly.


Disposal at the end-of-life is less well characterised, particularly for energy products such as wind turbines, few of which have reached have reached the end of their life.

Uncertainty in setting system boundaries

Inherent approximations in the input data.

Conducting eco-audit

Two sets of input data required:

The user requires:

a) The breakdown of the product into materials with their respective masses and manufacturing routes

b) Transport type & distance

c) The duty cycle - energy consumption during use, and the energy output over the product life.

These are combined with stanard data relating to each life stage (as in CES)

  • primary production energy (per kg of material)
  • manufacturing energy (per kg of material)
  • typical transportation energies


The amount of energy generated by the turbine will be estimated using locan wind data to find a capacity factor. The payback period is then:

Total life cycle energy / energy produced per year.



A reporter is going to visit the turbine manufacturing company. Provide briefing notes for what they should look out for in assessing the green credentials of the factory

Environmental assessment of a company:

  • convicted of infringements of any standards of emission?
  • Environment management system (EMS): an EMS that meets the ISO 14001 international standard
  • Public reporting of green issues: green credentials subject to third-party verification
  • Carbon footprint: companies which have calculated their carbon footprint
  • Green training: evidence of environmental awareness in the factory (e.g. avoidance of waste of any resources)
  • Electricity, gas and water consumption: signs of continuous improvement
  • Waste management: signs of reduction in waste, including reduction in waste sent to landfill. Packaging is a particularly visible sign of this: are there signs of excessive packaging, or reusable packaging?
  • Information about suppliers and supply chains may be difficult to gain on a casual visit, but positive factors would be use of local suppliers, and a negative factor would be materials and components arriving by air freight from countries which are largely unregulated


What is meant by the term triple bottom line? Why might tensions arise between the three elements in a manufacturing company?

The triple bottom line describes the three types of capital on which an operation depends: social, economic and environmental. Tensions arise because companies tend to focus on economic aspects. Profound improvements to social and environmental performance can cost money, although the first steps (e.g. waste reduction, creating a more stable and efficient workforce) can be economically beneficial if done in the right way


Discuss the most significant short-term measures the company could undertake to improve the environmental sustainability of itself and its customers.

In each case, indicate the nature and scale of the impact of the measures proposed, and explain any impact on other elements of the triple bottom line.

Overall: Answers should include mention of waste, use of hazardous substances, energy­ efficient manufacturing and factory operations.

  • Starting the process of gaining ISO 1400 I accreditation would be generally helpful to the company, but answers should focus on specific short-term improvements.
  • Refer to McKinsey abatement curves to identify measures with large environmental impact but low cost.
  • reduce wastage from defective products
  • 'Office' operations within the factory :
    • heating efficiency improvement (insulation, smart temperature control systems)
    • Significant lighting efficiency improvements can usually also be made (low energy sources; correct working light levels with timers and automatic sensors)
    • Foster culture of switching off equipment when not being used.
    • Material efticiency improvements from double-sided copying
    • An important factor for the company is ensuring that environmental awareness is embedded in the culture of the company
    • Improving sustainability of customers: By making equipment which has built-in features, the company can pass on environmental benefits to its customers. Examples include equipment with minimum operation energy and which automatically switches to low-energy standby mode.


Environmental impact reduction depends on behavioural change, on an individual or institutional basis.

Outline two ways in which such change is encouraged, using specific examples.

Are the measures you describe effective? How could their effectiveness be increased?

Policy at national or international levels leads to guidance and legislation

  • Direct regulation is the dominant method of environmental regulation in most countries
    • emissions targets
    • management of a common resource such as fisheries.
  • Legislation is commonly enforced using fiscal incentives (financial advantages and penalties - fines and taxes)
    • London Congestion Charge - people however find ways to get around the charge
  • Remove the charge, though, and people revert to their previous behaviour.
  • Mural suasion: Aims to manipulate culture without exerting force. Governments like this, seen making people do morally correct thing, but avoid criticism.
    • Finance of public awareness campaigns
    • Product-labelling requirements
    • Voluntary agreements of emission targets with emission sources
    • Subsiding R&D
    • Finance of basic research


Legislation can be effective, and fines are generally regarded as the best way to enforce it. However, attitudes are slow to change, and it is commonly found that removal of the fines results in people reverting to their previous behaviour. More profound change of attitudes requires education, and the ‘moral suasion’ tactics can generatee long-term benefits.


Define a green company

A Green company my be defined narrowly as minimising its environmental impact, though other factors such as Corporate Social Responsibility are often also included.


What points to cover when a question asks you to reduce waste/pollution at a company.

  • Start by saying "The first step should be to measure current performance, so that the startingpoint is defined. Then assess the ‘biggest hits’ – perhaps by looking at McKinsey abatement charts to see where real savings can be made."
  • Then make sure to say that waste can be reduced in different operations such as in the factories aswell as the office. 
  • Talk about everything you can e.g. (lighting, insulation, lean, cultural change, efficient machines, industrial symbiosis, better supplier relations, module products, less off-specs etc)
  • Try to mention one of the companies in L4


What differences would you expect make in drawing up a similar set of proposals for the factory in Sri Lanka?

(originall set of proposals was to reduce the environmental impact of the UK factory, looking at energy, water and waste)

  • Sri Lanka is hot and humid, so factory cooling (rather than heating) is the concern. Install efficient modern building management system.
  • Other measures include replacing tarred roads round factory with paving blocks and increasing the amount of green areas to reduce heat build-up, so air coming into the factory is cooler.
  • Lighting: increased natural light reduces energy costs and reduces heating from lights. Again, as in UK, residual lighting should be LED.
  • Water: Rainwater harvesting to provide ‘grey’ water for non-potable purposes. Also build water collection and recirculation plant, incorporating purification.
  • Waste: As in UK, but with local variation for appropriate technologies.


What advice would you offer the company about measures they could take to improve their medium and long-term environmental performance and also reduce their vulnerability to future attacks by the press?

) A mixture of window-dressing and actually important measures. Window-dressing: make a fuss about metrics such as ‘zero waste to landfill’; energy reduction. Somewhere between the two categories is going for ISO 140001 compliance, which provides some protection against the press. More profound measures: look for ways to anticipate legislation changes, such as moving away from hazardous chemicals before they are made illegal. M&S has focused on end-of-life with its ‘takeback’ scheme, where customers get some M&S spending credit for clothing donated to charity. Paradigm shifts: could look at leasing clothing rather than buying (hire companies). IS possibilities may be limited in reality, but could be investigated.


A company starts by conducting an eco-audit. Explain what is meant by an ecoaudit. What use might the company expect to make of this information?

An eco-audit is used to determine the relative impacts of the five different stages in the lifecycle of the product: material, manufacture, transport, use and disposal, looking typically at a limited number of impact factors (often only energy use, or CO2 footprint). The company should use the information to identify which aspects of the lifecycle of the product will give the biggest eco-hits for energy minimisation, so informing design decisions.


In the context of the automotive industry, describe what is meant by each of the following concepts:

Zero waste to landfill

3Rs of waste

‘other recovery’ includes incineration with energy recovery;

‘recycling’ has variable value for different materials; ‘re-use’ is the best end-of-life option

Cultural changes needed

Reducing waste may involve changes to process:

  • improve quality control to reduce offspecification scrap waste
  • refine processes to produce less waste such as electrostatic paint application rather than unfocused spray
  • use low-waste powder forming processes rather than casting
  • ‘design for manufacture’
  • sourcing markets for polymer scrap.
  • production equipment (refurbish machines rather than buying new).


Environmental consequences: Landfill of inert materials is neutral, but moving to increased recycling/reuse may lead to reduction in the amount of virgin material being produced which is beneficial.


Financial: Reduce landfill costs (gate fees/tonne). Scrap for recycling may have value so can be sold. Equipment re-use: reduce new equipment costs


In the context of the automotive industry, describe what is meant by each of the following concepts:

Product Service System