Standard of living in industrial countries and exponential growth of world
population cause a steady increase of resource consumption. Use
productivity of resources is a global chance for increasing the life
standard within ecological limits. The objective is more use with fewer
resources. Some alternatives are for example selling use instead of
products, adaptations of products by disassembly and re-assembly, reuse of
products and recycling of materials.
Optimization methods have been applied in order to evaluate specific requirements of systems and find optimal solutions for sub-systems e.g. identification and evaluation of reuse options, planning and design of recycling networks. However, the varieties of economical, ecological and social factors that must be considered in the reality increase the complexity of the system and make difficult to define a general objective function and constraints.
Heuristic approach as Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) has been also developed for analyzing and assessing the environmental effects caused by a product (or service) throughout its life cycle or lifetime.
This lecture will present the challenges in ecological valuation of products and processes as well as practical examples for increasing the use productivity of resources.