The aim of the Thematic Network1 ECOLIFE was to strengthen the European electr(on)ic industry and to preserve the European leadership in environmental technologies. In order to achieve this challenge the following objectives were realised:


  • Avoidance of duplication of research activities,
  • Enabling technology transfer.


The stated objectives were realised through the following activities:

  • Follow up the State of the art development in order to identify opportunities and main gaps in this field,
  • Use and further development of consistent methodologies for eco-efficient design,
  • Improvement of data and pilot experiences’ dissemination within small-medium enterprises,
  • Meeting legislative targets relating to collection, recycling and re-use of products, components and materials, considering the new electronic waste Directive from the European Commission that will come into force between the years 2002 and 2004,
  • Coordination with other projects in this field, in particular with EU, EUREKA and national programs dealing with eco-design and investigating possibilities of re-using and recycling of components and materials coming from electr(on)ic products and domestic appliances.



The objective of the research work was to contribute to the elimination or at least mitigation of priority environmental problems by developing solutions of wide ranging and general applicability in the electr(on)ic industry. The following main working areas were defined



  • Ecodesign guidelines
  • Design implication of End-of-Life processing


Closing the Cycle 

  • Quality Aspects
  • Communication & Marketing
  • Qualification
  • Logistics


End of Life Aspects 

  • Identification and Sensors
  • Separation Technologies
  • Health & Safety
  • Financial Aspects
  • Re-Use and Upgrade
  • Management and Strategies



After collection of case studies, discussions, and several versions of the eco-design guide, the final version of the "Environmentally Improved Product Design – Cases studies of the European Electric and Electronics Industry" has been issued in June 2002. The Guide contains 23 case studies from European electr(on)ics industry (from multinational as well as from SMEs) that illustrate five general eco-design principles, on which each partners agreed at the beginning of the task, which are: 


  • Life Cycle thinking 
  • Eco-design process
  • Tools and methods
  • Eco-design strategies
  • Dialogue and partnership



20 organisations participated in ECOLIFE as “Associated Members”. They are producers, research centres and recyclers coming from 9 different European countries. The Austrian Society for Systems Engineering and Automation was the co-ordinator of the project. 


Associated Members received a financial contribution from the EC

 ARÖW (DE), The Centre for Sustainable Design (UK), ENSAM (FR), GAIKER (ES), Fujitsu Services (UK), FhG-IML (DE), ISE (BE), LogMaS (HU), MMUy (UK), Motorola (DE), Philips (NL), RIF-IT (DE), Robotiker (ES), Schneider Electric (FR), SIEMENS (DE), Sony (DE), STENA Technoworld (SE), Technical University Berlin (DE), UDB (AT), U.E.G. (AT).


The project started on November 1998 and was finished in October 2001.


1/The task of participants in a Thematic Network is to set-up efficient co-ordination between the different research activities and to take all appropriate steps for technology exchange and transfer, including exchanges of personnel and training of industrial personnel.