Keywords: bathroom products, shower tray, life cycle analysis (LCA), EPS, environment, materials
Environmental impact assessment of bathroom products
It has been recognised worldwide that previous patterns of industrial production have been causing resource depletion and waste accumulation. To address the issue, not only the selection of materials, but also the cycle of stages in the life of a product, are subject to scrutiny. These stages may include resource extraction, manufacturing, packaging and shipping, use and refurbishment. This paper presents an effective Life Cycle Analysis (LCA) tool called EPS (Environmental Priorities Strategies) system for non-LCA practitioners such as design engineers, production engineers, business decision makers and purchasing staff to use. Bathroom products have been experiencing major changes in the past 40 years in the areas of both material selection and manufacturing technology, though little has been done in justifying such changes from the environmental perspective other than from the commercial perspective. Hence, the EPS method is used to perform a complete LCA on the two dominant types of shower trays, enamelled steel and acrylic. The comparative study shows that the lifecycle environmental impact of enamelled steel shower trays is likely to be greater than that of acrylic shower trays at the 84% confidence level. Similar conclusions can be drawn for other bathroom products, e.g. bathtubs and whirlpool baths, due to the similarities among their material compositions and manufacturing processes.