Key Research Areas

Environmental assessment for electronic systems

© Fraunhofer IZM
Iameco PC
© MicroPro | Photo by Kevin Mcfeely
Iameco PC

Evaluation of the environmental performance of products requires detailed knowledge of the design, production and the product’s use. Only then is it possible to ensure that all relevant factors are taken into consideration.

Life-cycle modelling, with LCA or carbon footprint analyses identifies the environmentally relevant life cycle phases and the influential parameters. In addition to issuing  own environmental assessments, expertise in methodology and electronics is used to monitor and review external life-cycle assessments in accordance with ISO 14040 and ISO 14044 within the evaluation process.

At Fraunhofer IZM, product category rules are developed for electronics which help to improve the applicability of assessment standards for different products and make it possible to compare results.

Such environmental assessments provide the opportunity detailing the  environmental impact resulting from a product., This however involves a laborious procedure. Therefore the IZM has also developed less time-consuming screening indicators such as the TPI (Toxic Potential Indicator) and RARI (Resource Availability Risk Indicator).

In order to minimise environmental impact, it is important to begin in the design phase for new products. By integrating environmental considerations on the basis of the methods of environmental evaluation and product analysis, it is already possible in the early phases of product development to optimise the design regarding environmental aspects.

The environmental evaluation and eco-design group works on:

  • Eco-design: Methods and product analyses (environmental optimisation of products, integration of environmental questions in the development)
  • Life-cycle modelling (environmental analysis of processes, environmental auditing and critical review, screening, parameterisation for eco-audits)
  • Determining carbon footprints of products and their critical review, with product category rules for electronics
  • Eco reliability

Projects relating to Environmental Evaluation and Eco-design


Increased use of recycled plastics in electronic products

The INCREACE project was funded by the European Union's Horizon Europe research and innovation program to tackle the above-mentioned issues. The diverse and interdisciplinary consortium develops innovative solutions along the entire plastics recycling value chain embedded in a systemic framework.

Product Category Rules

Helping the IT industry get to product carbon footprints that can be compared

Life Cycle Assessments are a comprehensive tool to support purchase decisions, to implement a company-wide climate policy, and to identify levers for product design improvements. All these measures require a transparent approach based on an unambiguous methodology.

News | EU-Project PROMPT

Fraunhofer IZM leads EU project on premature obsolescence

In May 2019, the EU’s PROMPT project was launched to tackle e-waste: the aim is to establish an independent test program to evaluate the service life of consumer goods.  

Sustainable design decisions

Electronic devices with a long service life can make an important contribution to a sustainable society. Fraunhofer IZM supports manufacturers in developing these kinds of product concepts, and in optimizing them to be environmentally friendly.

LCA to go

Helping European SMEs Apply Life Cycle Assessments

Developing SME-friendly methods and software tools for key innovative business sectors.


Energy-Efficient Information and Communication Technology for SMEs, Administration and the Home

Ten pilot projects are designing energy-efficient solutions for ICT infrastructure as part of the research initiative IT2Green. Fraunhofer IZM is supporting the projects by supplying basic research on quality assurance, effective implementation and efficient knowledge transfer.


Measurement Methodology of the Carbon and Energy Footprints of the ICT Sector

The ICT sector has great opportunities to achieve the overall aim of decoupling economic growth from the use of resources and associated environmental impacts. At the same time, the sector causes relevant GHG emissions. To understand the true net benefit of the sector, however, the sector’s own impact must first be defined, measured and quantified.


Technical Assistance for a Material-efficiency Ecodesign Report and Module to the Methodology for the Ecodesign of Energy-related Products

This project is assessing options for including material efficiency as part of the Methodology for Ecodesign of Energy-related Products (MEErP). Researchers will identify the most important materials from a resource efficiency perspective and assess the possibilities regulating these materials under the Ecodesign Directive.

BMBF Junior Research Group

Obsolescence as a challenge for sustainability

The interdisciplinary research group aims to investigate the multiple and interacting causes of obsolescence in electronics. Perspectives from engineering, economic science and sociology will be combined to explain obsolescence in its various forms and to develop strategies to enlarge use phases and reduce the amount of products consumed.