1887

Environmental Information in Instructions for Use of Consumer Products

image of Environmental Information in Instructions for Use of Consumer Products

The European Union has highlighted the issue of environmentally sound use of products in the context of Integrated Product Policy, IPP. Accordingly, consumers should have easy access to understandable, relevant and credible environmental information. Information about product characteristics is available in different forms and sources, but in many cases, relevant environmental information is not available on the product itself. The study described in this report was initiated in order to produce information on the state of user instructions regarding environmental information. User manuals of passenger cars and refrigerators were focused on, examining the advice which could diminish the harmful environmental effects of the use of these products. Other studied products included such durable products as textiles and furniture as well as such consumables as cleaning chemicals and recyclable paper products. The study raised many ideas about actions that could promote the status and 'eco-development' of instructions for use.

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Methodology

In this study a combined qualitative and quantitative approach was chosen so that the research questions of type "how", "what" and “how much” could be answered (Table 2). First a qualitative research was carried out to find out what should be instructed for various products. This was done by examining literature about product- and environment related matters. In addition, product-specific documents were studied, i.e. existing user manuals to find out what has been generally instructed. Group discussions with a limited number of informants, also called as feedback group, were used to assure the relevance of environmental aspects found, and to help in defining the criteria for assessing the level of environmental information in instructions for use.

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