A methodology for material selection in green design with toxic impact concern
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The growing environmental regulations and consumers' environmentally conscious buying behavior has obliged manufacturers to improve their environmental, technical and economic performance to survive the global competing market. The industrial experience in the past 30 years has proven that the design for environment (DfE) is one of the most effective strategies for manufacturers to address the challenges. It considers environmental performance early in the product design, especially in material selection process. Integrating environmental impact with other product performance in the material selection decision making is therefore crucial in this increasing demanding market. With the recognition that all product stakeholders care about product's environmental impact, and their responses jointly determine the product's economic performance, there is a need to examine product's environmental impact from different stakeholders' viewpoint, and analyze the subsequent interactions among them. This becomes the motive of our research. This research focuses on one category of environmental impact--toxic impact. A systematic methodology is developed for the material selection. This methodology contains a toxic-impact-indicator-derivation method that not only characterizes objective properties of the toxic substance, but also reflects subjective opinion of various stakeholders such as the government and consumers. The consumer utility function is developed to represent each individual consumer's overall preference on the product and captures the consumer's environmentally conscious buying behavior in form of willingness-to-pay for toxic impact reduction. A market competition model is proposed to analyze the market share of each product based on the price, quality and toxic impact performance of each product and the consumers' composition regarding their willingness-to-pay for toxic impact reduction. Toxic impact taxation is employed to estimate extra environmental cost imposed by the government. A price competition model is constructed to analyze the interactions among competing manufacturers with consideration on consumers' environmentally conscious buying behavior. This competition determines the optimal price and expected profit to the manufacturer with the material alternative selected. Based on the price competition analysis, an overall material selection model is developed to determine material alternatives in each of the multiple market life cycle stage. The result of this research may provide a formal framework to evaluate material alternatives with toxic impact concerns from all product stakeholders. It helps designers to quantitatively analyze the toxic impact from the government and consumers' viewpoints, and estimate the ultimate impacts on the product's profit. By so doing, designers can select the material alternative that meets the market requirement and satisfies its own benefit.