Summary – Essay Example

In the 7th week the did the following: He started off with an up d article of Research and Analysis Environmental Impacts of Products, a special issue of sustainable consumption this year. He then reviewed the difference between the unit process and functional unit by listing examples of products to help us to understand the function of product and how to quantify the function. This product system is called the quantification of the function of the product.
The professor discussed this example: In choosing what to buy between standard paint and “Eco” paint, once must consider life cycle assessment information and climate change information which are both written on the paint can. As can be surmised, 33kg of CO2 is associated in producing a gallon of Eco paint, while 44kg of CO2 is associated in producing a gallon of standard paint. Consider though the coverage area of these two paints. Also, consider the idea of the time duration by which paints last- qualities of appearance, color, and washability. It is important to measure the function of paint then in terms of area coverage and the time duration by which paints last. A functional unit provided by a gallon of paint then could be easily in the function of m2/yrs. This function would be more exact and useful standard unit of paint. While a gallon of both Eco and standard paint covered the same surface area with the same thickness, results from an experiment show that standard paint lasted two times longer than Eco paint. In other words, one will have to purchase 2 gallons and apply Eco paint twice in order to get the same performance of just one gallon and application of standard paint. The corollary to this is that two eco paints which produce 66kg of CO2 must be compared to standard paint which produces 44kg of CO2. The conclusion then is that it is better for the environment to use standard paint than Eco paint. The simple use of functional units in essence can prove what product is more superior and thus provide insights on how to help our environment.
The function of a product, such as paint, depends on how we measure the units of material, energy or inputs to produce the product as well as the units of by which the product’s performance can be quantified. This concept of a functional unit applies not only to paint but to other products such as masking tape, brushes, floor coverings, rollers, solvents, gloves, and water. All these can refer to flows or quantifications that define the costs and benefits each product when we have alternatives or many choices. Finally, we need think of both inputs and outputs in choosing a product from another product. In the case of paint, it may be misleading to choose Eco paint over standard paint simply because it yields less CO2 in its production, when in fact you need to apply Eco paint twice to have the same performance of only one application of standard paint. All in all, using Eco paint is more costly, if not to the buyer, then at least to society.