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ISSUE 2 : JULY 1997

The Journal of
Sustainable Product Design

Re-FINE Re-PAIR

Re-THINK Re-DESIGN

ISSN 1367–6679
ISSUE 2 : JULY 1997

The Journal of
Sustainable Product Design

5 Editorial
Martin Charter and Anne Chick, Editors, The Journal of Sustainable Product Design

Analysis
7 The IC EcoDesign project: results and lessons from a Dutch initiative
to implement eco-design in small and medium-sized companies
Carolien G van Hemel, Researcher, Delft University of Technology, Faculty of
Industrial Design Engineering, Environmental Product Development Section,
the Netherlands, with Harriet Bottcher and Rene Hartman of the Network of
Innovation Centres, the Netherlands
19 Improving the life cycle of electronic products: case studies from
the US electronics industry
Patricia S Dillon, Research Associate, The Gordon Institute at Tufts University, US
31 Mainstream appliance meets eco-design
Andrew Sweatman, Research Fellow, Design for the Environment Research Group,
Department of Mechanical Engineering, Design and Manufacture, Manchester
Metropolitan University, UK, and John Gertsakis, Senior Programme Manager,
EcoRecycle, Victoria, Australia
38 Dr Braden Allenby, Vice President, Environment, Health and Safety,
AT&T, US
Martin Charter, Joint Coordinator, The Centre for Sustainable Design, UK

Gallery
44 Solar Mower, ThinkPad, Teletangram, space and water saving toilet
and washbasin combination, energy efficient bicycle and road
signpost lighting and jute geotextile

Case history
48 Managing the eco-design process
Martin Charter, Joint Coordinator, The Centre for Sustainable Design, UK

Innovation
52 The sustainability cycle: a new tool for product development and design
Peter James, Director, Sustainable Business Centre, UK
Special feature
© 1997 The Centre for Sustainable Design. 58 O2 Netherlands
All written material, unless otherwise
Iris van de graaf de Keijser, Co-founder of O2 Global Network and owner of
stated, is the copyright of The Centre
for Sustainable Design, Surrey, UK. KIVA Product Ecology, the Netherlands
Views expressed in articles and letters
are those of the contributors, and not 61 Reviews
necessarily those of the publisher.
ISSN 1367–6679 64 Diary of events
GENERAL INFORMATION

Editors Editorial Board Dr Stefano Marzano


Africa Head of Corporate Design,
Martin Charter and Anne Chick,
Gary Owen Philips International (Netherlands)
Joint Coordinators,
The Centre for Sustainable, Design, UK CEO, ResponseAbility Alliance (Zimbabwe) Dr Diana Montgomery
Australasia Head of Environment, Automobile
Production: Anne Chick
Professor Chris Ryan Association (UK)
Marketing: Martin Charter
Director, Centre for Design, Royal Professor Jeremy Myerson
The Journal of Sustainable Product Design
Melbourne Institute for Technology Contemporary Design,
encourages response from its readers to
(Australia) De Montfort University (UK)
any of the issues raised in the journal.
Entries for the Diary of events and material Europe Jonathan Smales
to be considered for review should all be Jacqueline Aloisi de Larderel CEO, The Earth Centre (UK)
sent to the Editors at the address below. Director, Industry and Environment, UNEP
Sam Towle
(France)
All articles published in the Analysis Head of Environmental Audit,
section are assessed by an external Hans Peter Becker The Body Shop International Plc (UK)
panel of business professionals, Managing Director, Wilkhahn (UK) Ltd. (UK)
Dr Hans van Weenen
consultants and academics. Professor Eric Billett Director, UNEP Working Group
Warden, Brunel University College (UK) on Sustainable Product Design,
Subscription rates Professor Dr Michael Braungart International Centre, University
Fachhochschule Nordostnierasachen, of Amsterdam (Netherlands)
The Journal of Sustainable Product Design
is a quarterly journal appearing in the (Germany) Professor Jan-Olaf Willums
months of April, July, October and January Professor Han Brezet Norwegian School of Management,
each year. Subscription rates are £80.00 Director, Section of Environmental Product Oslo (Norway)
(paper-based) and £40.00 (online) for one Development, Faculty of Industrial Design Dr Jonathan Williams
year (four issues). Special subscription Engineering, Delft University of Technology Director, Group for Environmental
rates for developing countries and (Netherlands) Manufacturing (UK)
students are available on application. Ian Dumelow US
Cheques should be made payable to Dean, Faculty of Design, Dr Brad Allenby
The Surrey Institute in £ sterling Surrey Institute of Art & Design (UK) Director, Environmental,
and sent to: Health & Safety, AT&T (US)
Professor Dr Guenter Fleischer
The Journal of Sustainable Product Design Director, Instit fuer Technischen Professor Patricia Dillon
The Centre for Sustainable Design Umweltschutz, Technische Universitat The Gordon Institute, Tufts University, (US)
Faculty of Design Berlin (Germany)
Ralph Earle III
The Surrey Institute of Art & Design
Peter James Director, The Alliance for Environmental
Falkner Road
Director, Sustainable Business Innovation (US)
Farnham
Centre (UK)
Surrey GU9 7DS Professor John Ehrenfeld
UK Iris van de graaf de Keijser Director, Technology, Business and
tel +44 (0)1252 732229 Director, Kiva Product Ecology, Environment Program, Massachusetts
fax +44 (0)1252 732274 (Netherlands) Institute of Technology (US)
email: cfsd@surrart.ac.uk Professor Karl Lidgren Dr Joseph Fiksel
internet: http://www.cfsd.org.uk Director, The International Institute for Senior Director, Strategic Environmental,
Industrial Environmental Economics, Health & Safety Management, Battelle
Lund University (Sweden) Memorial Institute (US)
Dorothy MacKenzie James Hartzfeld
Director, Dragon (UK) Vice President, Interface Research
Professor Ezio Manzini Corporation (US)
Director, Facolta di Architettura, Professor William McDonough
Unita di ricerca Progetto, Prodotto, Dean, Faculty of Architecture,
Ambiente, Politecnico di Milano (Italy) University of Virginia (US)

4 THE JOURNAL OF SUSTAINABLE PRODUCT DESIGN · JULY 1997


EDITORIAL

Welcome to the second issue of


The Journal of Sustainable Product Design
Martin Charter and Anne Chickn
Editors, The Journal of Sustainable Product Design

he recent Rio + 5 But in parallel, it means develop- ‘Factor X’ 1 levels of resource and
T Conference in New York,
highlighted the growing need
ing structures and systems to
extend the life of the millions
energy reduction ie. why gener-
ate new energy or extract new
to develop more sustainable of products that come to the virgin materials if we can retain
patterns of consumption and end of their first useful life, every and extend existing products.
production. The role of products day. An economic infrastructure Antiques are a good example
and services is central to this needs to be created to collect of the link between ‘economic
debate. It will mean addressing and keep existing ‘value’ in ‘the values' and 'psychological
key questions such as what is a economic cycle’ through upgrad- values’. Where there is a
sustainable product?, how does ing, dismantling, remanufactur- perceived ‘value’ of an artifact,
one develop and design sustain- ing, reconditioning, recycling it generates an ‘economic value’
able products? and how does and other strategies. Therefore related to the basic economics
sustainable product design differ it means managing both ‘front of supply and demand ie. as more
from eco-design? Sustainable of pipe’ and ‘end of pipe’, and people want a scarce artifact,
Product Development and Design not either/or. the price goes up! Within the
(SPDD) means exploring a wider sustainability context, there is a
However, there is still inertia in
set of economic, environmental, need to generate a concept of
the system. If your kettle stops
ethical and social (e3s) relation- the ‘real value’ of products
functioning there is generally no
ships in the product develop- amongst consumers.
clear collection mechanism to
ment and design process – not
intervene between ‘the product’ ‘Factor X’ levels of reduction in
only ‘green’ issues as emphasised
going to landfill ie. a radio may the consumption of materials
in eco-design. It means thinking
have cost you $20 to buy, but and energy will not come about
through complex issues such as
$60 to repair and you may have through incremental change, but
meeting the basic needs of the
to travel 20km to locate the will require radical new solu-
world's poor and reducing global
repairer. That is why ‘end of life’ tions. In addition, moving
inequalities. A key challenge is
electronic products pile-up in beyond eco-innovation to ‘e3s’
how to infuse sustainability
office cupboards and in the home innovation will require new
issues at the front of the new
– based on the thought process products and processes that
product development process,
‘it doesn't work, I can't repair it, provide customers with more
where ideas and concepts are
but I still perceive it has “value”, ‘real value’ but with significantly
generated and the issues are
therefore I will not throw it reduced sustainability impacts.
often poorly understood.
away!’ This will necessitate a new
Underlying both new and exist- corporate framework to manage
This phenomenon is important
ing product development and product/service innovation. The
from both an economic and
design is the need to minimise more radical the change required
psychological viewpoint. There
sustainability impacts throughout the more strategic the decision
is a need to keep the ‘value’ of
the life cycle. This means incor- will need to be, and the closer to
physical goods in 'the economic
porating SPDD principles into the ‘front of pipe’. However, at
cycle' if we are to move to
new product development, now!

JULY 1997 · THE JOURNAL OF SUSTAINABLE PRODUCT DESIGN 5


EDITORIAL

present, most eco-driven changes Design for Environment This issue's interview is with Dr
are at the operational level ie. Research Group at Manchester Braden Allenby, Vice President,
incremental changes of existing Metropolitian University, UK; Environment, Health and Safety,
products. Within the sustainabil- the Gordon Institute, Tufts AT&T. Dr Allenby discusses issues
ity context, innovation cannot University, US and the such as sustainable consumption,
just create new ‘substitute’ Environment Product sustainable product design and
markets unless they create more Development Section, industrial ecology. Peter James,
‘real value’ and produce less Delft University of Technology Director of the Sustainable
impact. This will mean strategic (DUT), the Netherlands. Business Centre, UK, continues
changes in product development the Sustainable Product Design
Carolien van Hemel, Researcher,
and design, coupled with changes theme by proposing a new tool
DUT, describes the results and
in consumer perception and called the 'Sustainability Circle',
lessons learnt from their IC
behaviour. For example, car shar- which analyses both environ-
EcoDesign Project, which was
ing implies that the ‘product’ will mental and social dimensions
conducted in collaboration with
be ‘owned’ by consumers paying of products and services.
the Network Innovation Centres
per unit of ‘service’ ie. mileage
(IC). The aim of this project is to The Journal of Sustainable
and time. This will mean a shift
enhance awareness of eco-design Product Design has developed a
in consumer behaviour from
amongst 900 small and medium partnership with the ‘O2 Global
‘individual consumption’
size enterprises (SMEs) in the Network’, an international
(outright purchase of cars) to
Netherlands. Patty Dillon, network of ecological designers.
‘organised consumption’ (rental
Research Associate at the O2 will regularly update readers
of cars). Such a shift will produce
Gordon Institute presents case on eco-design and SPD activities
less traffic congestion, reduced
studies from Hewlett-Packard worldwide and focus on O2
emissions, and therefore less air
Company, Nortel and Compaq activities in one particular coun-
pollution, but will mean fewer
Computer who demonstrate how try each issue. They commence
cars will be needed. A more
electronics manufacturers are their ‘O2 News’ pages with the
intensified use of fewer products
embracing product stewardship, Netherlands.
eg. cars, will produce significant
‘Design for Environment’ (DfE)
implications for product design, As in the first issue of The
principles and life cycle
technology, costing and ‘end of Journal of Sustainable Product
management programmes. The
life’ management. Design we continue to search for
Kambrook Axis electrical kettle
case studies and articles which
To enable shifts from products to case study by Andrew Sweatman
explore eco-design research and
services, there will need to be and John Gertsakis also demon-
new thinking and ideas in the
more systemic planning and strates such product processes in
areas of sustainable consumption
management, an ethos of contin- action. Both authors worked on
and SPD. The aim now is to build
uous improvement and ongoing the EcoReDesign Program which
the Journal's international profile
societal programmes of stake- undertook the re-design of the
as a platform for debate and
holder education. original kettle using ‘a balance
analysis in this area. •
of design innovation, environ-
The second issue of the Journal 1
mental understanding and ‘Factor X’: At present there is consid-
of Sustainable Product Design
common sense engineering erable discussion over the level of
focuses on the eco-design
principles’. The resulting resource and energy reduction required
activities of various research
environmental benefits of this to progress towards sustainability ie.
centres from around the world.
approach is a kettle that uses factor 4, 10 and 20. 'Factor X' is a
These include the Australian
up to 25% less electricity generic term that highlights that a
National Centre of Design's
and significantly fewer significant reduction is required, but at
EcoReDesign Program housed
materials and components. present the level and changes required
within the Royal Melbourne
are unclear.
Institute of Technology; the

6 THE JOURNAL OF SUSTAINABLE PRODUCT DESIGN · JULY 1997


ANALYSIS

The IC EcoDesign project: results and lessons


from a Dutch initiative to implement eco-
design in small and medium-sized companies
Carolien G van Hemel i
Researcher, Delft University of Technology, Faculty of Industrial
Design Engineering, Environmental Product Development Section,
the Netherlands, with Rene Hartman & Harriet Bottcher
of the Network of Innovation Centres, the Netherlands

In 1995 the Network of Innovation focused on the needs of SMEs,


Centres (ICs) in the Netherlands with financing through the Dutch
established the IC EcoDesign Ministry of the Environment and
project, with the aim of enhancing the Ministry of Economic Affairs.
the awareness of eco-design The target group for this project
amongst 900 small and medium- was 4,500 SMEs and the project
sized manufacturing enterprises timetable was set from 1995–98.
Carolien G van Hemel (top) is a PhD (SMEs). Firstly, this article
The organisation that was
researcher at the Environmental Product describes the background,
selected to implement the
Development Section, Faculty of Industrial organisation and auditing
project was the network of
Design Engineering, Delft University of methods used throughout the
non-profit Innovation Centres.
Technology, in the Netherlands. She has project. Secondly, it introduces
been involved in the Innovation Centre One of the reasons why the ICs
the monitoring mechanism used
EcoDesign project since it started in 1994, were chosen was that they were
and reveals the initial results of
as methodological advisor, trainer and familiar with many of the prod-
the research. Finally, it explores
researcher. The IC EcoDesign project is the uct-related issues faced by SMEs;
the stimuli and barriers to eco-
focus for her PhD research, with her thesis one-third of the questions
design at a strategic level.
disclosing further results and interpretations received by the ICs annually
on the project. The thesis will be available relate to new product develop-
in English at the end of 1997. Introduction ment issues. Apart from this, the
Rene Hartman (above left) and Harriet ICs had already built up environ-
‘How do we implement environmental
Bottcher (above right) work for the Network mental competence due to
product development or eco-design
of ICs in the Netherlands. Rene Hartman, their involvement in an earlier
amongst SMEs?’
an industrial design engineer, graduated ‘Cleaner Production’ project,
n 1994 the Dutch government in which 600 companies were
at the TU Delft and is employed at the IC
Amsterdam-Haarlem. Harriet Bottcher is a
sociologist who graduated at the RU Leiden
I focused on this key question
following the results from eco-
audited in order to improve the
environmental aspects of their
and owns a private consulting company. design demonstration projects production processes.
Together they initiated and coodinate the IC completed in eight medium to
Between 1989–1990 a network
EcoDesign project. In addition they are large-sized companies between
of 18 ICs was established in
co-authors of ‘EcoDesign: benefit for the 1991–1993 (Riele and Zweers,
the Netherlands, funded by the
environment and profit for the company’, 1994).
Ministry of Economic Affairs
which offers supplementary project
information and six case descriptions. The government decided to (Coehoorn, 1995). Every regional
initiate a new eco-design project IC has a director and, depending

JULY 1997 · THE JOURNAL OF SUSTAINABLE PRODUCT DESIGN 7


ANALYSIS

on the region, 4 to 10 consul- development processes. A key


A key tants. The aim of the ICs is mechanism to motivate action
to enhance access to newly- is to instil the philosophy of
mechanism developed technological ‘learning by doing’. To achieve
knowledge for SMEs, enabling this, companies are given advice
to motivate them to innovate faster (the on environmental innovation for
ICs are similar to Regional one of their products and in this
action is Technology Advisory Centres
that exist in other European
way taught to appreciate the
value of eco-design. When the

to instil the countries). The network includes


140 consultants who advise
companies integrate eco-design
into their regular product devel-

philosophy 20,000 SMEs annually. opment process, a major goal of


the IC EcoDesign project has
been achieved.
of ‘learning The aim of the IC
EcoDesign project The aim of this approach is to

by doing’. The uncertainty surrounding


develop competence and com-
petition in eco-design, which
the benefits and improvements
others can follow. In larger
resulting from undertaking eco-
companies, already working
design has proven to be a major
on eco-design, competitiveness
obstacle to development,
seems to be a major driver. For
especially amongst SMEs (Hemel
example, in consumer tests, if
and Keldmann, 1996). Most
a competitor performs better on
companies ask questions that
‘green’ aspects, this often adds
are difficult to answer:
a strong impetus to eco-design
• is eco-design relevant to our
within the firm.
business?
• how can eco-design be applied
to our products?
The target group
• what will be the effects of The target group for the IC
product changes on the envi- EcoDesign project was estimated
ronment, on our organisation, to be 4,500 companies, with
on our market position, in the most important criteria for
financial terms, and on the selection being that:
motivation of our employees? • companies did not have more
• in what direction will than 200 employees
international legislation and • companies were responsible for
consumer demand develop? the specification of the product
• how can we set clear targets • products were developed in
for eco-design and achieve the Netherlands
them if we don’t know the • products were tangible
consequences? products.
The aim of the IC EcoDesign The aim was for 20% of the
project is to make SMEs 4,500 SMEs (900 SMEs) to
conscious of the opportunities participate in the project, on
arising from eco-design, and the assumption that the effects
guide them through the process of the project would cascade to
of integrating environmental another 60% of the total
considerations into their product target group.

8 THE JOURNAL OF SUSTAINABLE PRODUCT DESIGN · JULY 1997


ANALYSIS

For 1995 the target was set at design, by helping the company of eco-design, partly financed by
100 SMEs and at the end of to understand the environmental the government. The aim of this
1995, 95 were participating. impact of its business and its phase is to investigate the tech-
products, and the possibility of nical, financial and environmen-
turning environmental threats tal feasibility of one or more
The auditing method:
into opportunities. This was options suggested in the action
the environmental
achieved through an auditing plan. The feasibility study was
innovation scan method derived from the Dutch generally undertaken by a
The IC EcoDesign project was PROMISE Manual for Ecodesign consultancy or in some instances
a successor to previous demon- [(Brezet, 1997), (Hemel and by the company itself, sometimes
stration projects which had been Brezet, 1997)]. The audits are assisted by a graduate student.
completed in medium and large- relatively short and concentrate
Phase 3
sized companies. A new method on the strategic elements of eco-
The third phase is the implemen-
had to be developed to focus on design decision-making. This
tation of the improvement
the needs of SMEs and the exist- procedure assists the IC consul-
options. The company has to
ing working practices of the IC tant and the company represen-
pay for this, but is assisted by an
consultants. tative in answering the following
IC consultant. In April 1996 the
three key questions:
SMEs generally have limited time Dutch Ministry of Economic
and money to perform activities • what must the company do?
Affairs introduced a credit
that are additional to their day- (mapping the external factors
system, which enabled high-risk
to-day work. Due to this, the leading to eco-design, like
investments in eco-design to
environmental action taken by legislation, increasing waste
be partly financed.
SMEs had tended to focus on costs, increasing consumer
good housekeeping and cleaner demands, new technologies
production, with little experi- etc.) The IC consultants and the
ence of eco-design. Therefore, • what does the company want ‘eco-design helpdesk’
an auditing method had to be to do? (mapping the internal A significant element of any
developed, taking into account motivation for eco-design, consultation is the quality of the
the low awareness of eco-design like improving product quality, expertise that was offered. The
and lack of time and money. corporate image, cost IC consultants already had
Important characteristics of the reduction) experience of advising SMEs
IC EcoDesign approach are a • what can the company do? about product and new business
three-phase approach and the (mapping the environmental development. To create a strong
short intervention period. profile of the selected product, support infrastructure, 23 IC
Preceding the first phase, consid- following all stages of the consultants received training in
erable effort was invested in product’s life cycle). the completion of eco-design
raising the firm’s interest in eco- audits.
design and in convincing them The result of this first phase is
a plan containing many options The consultants started auditing
of the need for participation. To
and actions to improve the the first group of companies in
support this, a range of material
environmental aspects of the February 1995. Since then, all
was produced, including compre-
chosen product. consultants and project assistants
hensive project documentation,
have come together every three
introductory interviews with Phase 2 months to exchange knowledge
entrepreneurs and public eco-
The second phase starts after and experiences and to receive
design meetings.
the company had been audited. extra training in eco-design
Phase 1 At this stage, the company could topics.
The goal of the first phase was apply for money for a feasibility
The IC consultants are assisted
to create an awareness of eco- study concerning specific aspects
by a ‘eco-design helpdesk’.

JULY 1997 · THE JOURNAL OF SUSTAINABLE PRODUCT DESIGN 9


ANALYSIS

Product system level @ New Concept Developmemt Product component level


7 Optimisation of ‘end Dematerialisation 1 Selection of low-impact
of life’ system
Shared use of the product materials
Reuse of product
Integration of function Cleaner materials
Remanufacturing/refurbishing
Functional optimisation of product Renewable materials
Recycling of materials (components) Lower energy materials
Safer incineration
Recycled materials
6 Optimisation of initial lifetime @ Recyclable materials
Reliability and durability
2 Reduction of materials usage
Easier maintenance and repair 7 1
Reduction in weight
Modualr product structure
Reduction in (transport) volume
Classic design
Strong product-user relation
6
– + 2

5 Reduction of impact during use 3 Optimisation of production


Lower energy consumption techniques
5 3 Alternative production
Cleaner energy source
Fewer consumables needed techniques
4
Cleaner consumables Fewer production steps
No waste of energy/ Lower/cleaner energy
Product structure level
consumables consumption
4 Optimisation of distribution system
Less production waste
Less/cleaner/reusable packaging
Fewer/cleaner production
Energy-efficient transport mode consumables
Energy efficient logistics

Figure 1: The EcoDesign Frequently the consultants are The EcoDesign Strategy
Strategy Wheel© confronted with questions about Wheel
(Hemel and Brezet, 1997) environmental issues to which
In the report completed for
they have no clear answers. In
the company, the options for
these cases they can request
improvement are structured
support from the ‘eco-design
according to the classification
helpdesk’, which is manned
of eight eco-design strategies, as
by an employee from Delft
illustrated in Figure 1. The model
University of Technology (with
used in the IC EcoDesign project
answers reaching the consultants
is based on this figure and is
within three days). The most
called the ‘EcoDesign Strategy
frequently asked topics include:
Wheel’. It gives a typology of
• product-oriented environ-
the possible actions that can be
mental legislation
taken to improve the environ-
• environmental aspects of
mental impacts of product(s).
materials
There is a strong parallel to
• environmental aspects of the product life cycle starting
production processes. with ‘selection of low-impact
materials’ and ending with

10 THE JOURNAL OF SUSTAINABLE PRODUCT DESIGN · JULY 1997


ANALYSIS

‘optimisation of the “end of life” The EcoDesign Strategy Wheel


system’. that is used in the IC EcoDesign The
project is a simplification of this
As indicated in Figure 1, some
strategies will influence the prod-
model. It has proven to be a EcoDesign
valuable mechanism for showing
uct mostly at component level,
some at product structure level
a range of eco-design directions. Strategy
The same typology is used to
and others at product system
level. For example, substituting
structure the IC EcoDesign data- Wheel gives
base, in which consultants can
a material with a more environ-
mentally benign alternative may
look up advice that has been
given in preceding eco-design
a typology of
only have consequences for the
design of a specific part of the
consultations. The model as
presented in Figure 1 is also used
the possible
product (product component
to classify the project results in
level). Furthermore, if a clean
energy source like solar energy
the monitoring research. actions that
is used, it will probably lead to
changes not only in the design Monitoring the results of
can be taken
of the product parts, but in the
architecture of the product as
the IC EcoDesign project to improve the
well (product structure level). If In September 1995, after a
we want to extend the product’s preliminary evaluation of the environmental
initial lifetime some more radical first year’s project results, it was
changes may be required that go decided to proceed with another
800 companies between 1996–98.
impacts of
beyond the product component
or structure level. They may
include changes in the product’s
The estimation was that 300 of
those 800 would complete an
products.
repair and maintenance system eco-design project after an
(product system level). The ‘New abridged scan. In the autumn of
Concept Development’ strategy is 1996 a mechanism was developed
characterised by the symbol ‘@’, by Delft University of
in order to emphasise its special Technology, to monitor the
character, the ‘@’ symbol environmental and commercial
refers to the innovative and results of the IC EcoDesign
eco-efficient email system (which project. This consisted of a ques-
saves paper and money). This tionnaire to be completed by the
strategy provokes companies to participating company and a
reconsider their actual product methodology for interviewing
concepts. It leads to questions company representatives, who
such as ‘does our product were generally, the Director of
perform optimally in functional the firm and in some cases the
and environmental terms?’ and Head of R&D. This mechanism
‘can we create market opportuni- aimed to monitor various project
ties by developing a new results:
product concept that fulfils this • direct environmental benefits
function in more innovative and • indirect environmental benefits
eco-efficient ways’. The graph • commercial benefits.
in the middle of the model is
used to visualise the company’s To test the monitoring mecha-
eco-design goals. nism, it was applied to a total of

JULY 1997 · THE JOURNAL OF SUSTAINABLE PRODUCT DESIGN 11


ANALYSIS

77 of the 95 companies that had ment options had been achieved.


The solution participated in the IC EcoDesign The model of Figure 1 provided
project in 1995. 74 of them were the framework for the inventory.
chosen was willing to complete question- In total 602 eco-design improve-
naires; and 73 of the firms were ment options were recommen-
to let the interviewed by telephone. ded to the 73 interviewed
companies. During telephone
In the process of developing the
EcoDesign monitoring mechanism, it turned
interviews, the company repre-
sentative had to inform the inter-
out to be difficult to effectively
Strategy Wheel measure the results of the
viewer about the extent to which
the company had been able to
project. For example, there
turn again were two key questions:
implement its specific eco-design
improvement options. They were
• how do you define ‘eco-design
also asked to indicate why a
and make an success’?
specific option had been of inter-
• how do you distinguish
est or not, in the context of
inventory of the between those companies
who have achieved ‘poor’
external and internal stimuli and
barriers for implementation.
extent to which eco-design results and those
who have achieved ‘excellent’ If the option was close to being
eco-design results? implemented, the interviewee
all suggested had to indicate the environmen-
This experience illustrated that it tal impacts of the improvement.
eco-design is hard to measure a firm’s envi- For each option the interviewee
ronmental attitudes, strategy or had to indicate the additional
improvement performance (Hass, 1996). One
option was to undertake Life
value resulting from participating
in the IC EcoDesign project. The

options had Cycle Assessments (LCAs) of all


monitored products, but this
companies were also asked to fill
out a comprehensive question-

been achieved. would have proved to be an


impossible task due to lack of
naire, mapping out the indirect
project results.
time and information. In addi-
A result of this method was an
tion, an LCA does not reflect the
overview of the project outcomes
indirect results of the project eg:
for each of the studied compa-
• increased knowledge nies. Since all eco-design
• development of eco-design improvement options had been
routines (internalisation of classified according to the
the eco-design principles) EcoDesign Strategy Wheel, the
• increased cooperation with degree of implementation of the
other organisations various eco-design strategies
• follow-up activities. could be assessed. Next, the data
offered insight into the stimuli
The solution chosen was to let and barriers to eco-design, at the
the EcoDesign Strategy Wheel detailed level of specific eco-
turn again and make an inventory design strategies and even the
of the extent to which all level of specific eco-design
suggested eco-design improve- improvement options.

12 THE JOURNAL OF SUSTAINABLE PRODUCT DESIGN · JULY 1997


ANALYSIS

Results of the IC EcoDesign With a fourth motive being a


project feeling of personal responsibility The majority
felt towards ‘the environment’
Below are some results of the IC
EcoDesign project research
by the company representative. of companies
The search for environmentally
completed in 1995:
benign alternative materials or regarded
Participating industries components, and supply chain
The best represented industries pressures were also strong
motivations.
eco-design
were metal products, machinery,
wood and furniture, electronics, Direct project results as an initial
rubber and synthetics.
A total of 602 eco-design
Attitude towards eco-design improvement options were investment,
75% of the companies did not recommended to participating
have any eco-design experience companies. 183 (30%) of these which would
before starting the IC EcoDesign were (nearly) completed at the
project. time of the research, which was
10–16 months after the advise
be paid back
Most companies regarded eco-
design as an opportunity rather
had been originally given. Within
3 years from when the research
in the medium
than a threat. Eco-design was
took place a total of 247 options
recognised by some for its
(41%) were predicted to be to long-term.
marketing potential.
completed.
Some companies saw eco-design
One-third of the options were
as a cost-neutral activity.
new to the companies and were
However, the majority of the
mainly concerned with low-
companies regarded eco-design
impact materials, lower product
as an initial investment, which
weight and recycling.
would be paid back in the
medium to long-term. The 77 companies provided the
following results:
External parties that were
• eco-design had been applied to
perceived to be most concerned
1 product that was totally new
about eco-design were govern-
to the company
ment, suppliers and trade associ-
ations. However, the parties • eco-design had been applied
which stimulated them to imple- to 21 products that have been
ment eco-design were govern- thoroughly re-designed
ment, industrial customers and • eco-design has been applied to
the end-users of the product. 13 products that were slightly
improved. These products were
Motivation towards eco-design
being or will be launched in
The two most important motives the near future.
for participation in the IC
• the packaging of another 4
EcoDesign project were the wish
products was environmentally
to increase the quality of specific
improved
products, and the importance of
• in 7 companies the focus was
anticipating future developments.
on improving the environ-
A third motive was that eco-
mental aspects of production
design was seen as an important
processes
aspect of product innovation.

JULY 1997 · THE JOURNAL OF SUSTAINABLE PRODUCT DESIGN 13


ANALYSIS

25% expected • in 9 companies the product


had not yet been improved, but
• 30% had already applied
eco-design principles to other
research was being undertaken products.
a profit to be • in 11 companies the product • 60% said that they would apply
has not been improved, but eco-design in the future.
generated research had been concluded • 25% said that they had
• in 6 companies the product developed an eco-design
through had not been improved, but checklist to be used during
research was planned product development.
eco-design • in 5 companies the project • 25% wanted to integrate
had not produced any results. product-related environmental
within two Focus on eco-design
information and requirements
in their environmental
Some eco-design strategies
years, ranging proved to be more popular than
management system.
• 25% aimed to integrate
others. These eco-design strate-
from 10% gies were recycling, reduction of
environmental demands in
their quality system.
weight/components, low-impact
to 50% materials and high product relia- Commercial results
bility. After these four types, the • 67% expected their
most popular options concerned ‘eco-designed’ products to
cleaner production, more increase their market shares.
efficient packaging, low energy-
• 56% expected to enter new
use in the use phase and the
markets with their environ-
application of recycled materials.
mentally improved product.
Eco-design strategies that had a • 25% expected a profit to be
greater chance of being imple- generated through eco-design
mented were cleaner production, within two years, ranging from
the prevention of waste of 10% to 50%; 27% expected a
energy/consumables in use profit ranging from 1% to 5%
phase, high product reliability, (profit was defined as being
easy maintenance and repair and based on costs savings as well
recycling. as sales increases).
Indirect project results Appreciation of the IC
The greatest increase in eco- EcoDesign project
design knowledge concerned • 64% said that the IC EcoDesign
eco-design in general, environ- project has led to concrete
mental aspects of materials and results.
the environmental burden of the
• 71% said that they would
product in its total life cycle.
continue to use elements of
Most companies said that they the auditing method.
were now able to apply eco- • 90% said that they would
design independently. recommend the project to
other companies.

14 THE JOURNAL OF SUSTAINABLE PRODUCT DESIGN · JULY 1997


ANALYSIS

Figure 2: The external 50


46
stimuli for eco-design 45 43

40

35

Frequency of mentioning
30

25

20
16
15

10
7
5 4 3
0
0
Go
ver Indust (Indus Enviro Suppl Comp Other
nm t i etit
ent y org rial) c nment ers
r e
ani ors xtern
sat ustom al act al s
tim
ion ers i on uli
s gro
up

Stimuli and barriers for For 111 of the 602 improvement


The research eco-design

options a total of 119 external
A secondary aim of the research stimuli were mentioned. For
highlighted was to determine the stimuli and 491 options (82%) no external
barriers to eco-design strategies stimuli were mentioned. The
that the and options. Therefore all research highlighted that the
companies were prompted to tell government and the supply
government the interviewer what they saw as chain offered the most external
external and internal stimuli, as pressure towards eco-design.
and the well as the barriers to eco-design • 26% of the options for which
no external stimuli were
options. This part of the research
supply chain resulted in an overview of the
stimuli and barriers for the 602
mentioned were completed.
50% of the options that have

offered the eco-design improvement options,


classified according to the
external stimuli are realised; of
the options without external
‘EcoDesign Strategy Wheel’. stimuli only 26% had been
most external Some preliminary conclusions completed.
are listed below. • Only in 3 of the 111 options
pressure for with external stimuli were
External stimuli for companies not interested.
eco-design. eco-design • 26% of the options have been
implemented but were not
Figure 2 shows how often the
stimulated by an external
various types of external stimuli
stimulus.
were mentioned.

JULY 1997 · THE JOURNAL OF SUSTAINABLE PRODUCT DESIGN 15


ANALYSIS

225
203
Internal stimuli for
200 eco-design
179
175 Figure 3 gives an overview of
150 the 798 internal stimuli that
Frequency of mentioning

were mentioned for 343 of the


125
103
602 eco-design options. The
100 internal stimulus of the ‘envi-
84
80
ronmental benefit’ was only
75 63
noted when the company
48
50 36 mentioned it spontaneously.
25 A greater proportion of internal
2
0 stimuli (798 internal stimuli for
Env C Im Ma Inc Syn Oth Inte Oth
iron ost re age r re e e r e 343 options) than external stim-
me d imp ket ch ased rgy w r bus esting r inte
nta uctio r o vem a n p
ces rodu i t ho i n ess inn rnal uli (119 external stimuli for 111
l be n ct q ther ben ovat stim
nef ent e io uli
ual r
it ity equire fits n options) were mentioned. These
me
nts indicated that internal stimuli
played a bigger role in eco-
Figure 3: The internal stimuli for eco-design
design decision-making than the
external stimuli. Further analysis
has shown that half of the
125 implemented options were
completed regardless of external
112 stimuli. Of all options with a
lack of internal stimuli, only a
100 very few have been imple-
mented. Further research is
likely to indicate which of the
stimuli actually has had the
75
Frequency of mentioning

strongest impact on eco-design


decision-making in the SMEs.

51 52 Figure 3 shows that in many


50 46 cases eco-design leads to a
synergy with other business
37 37
31
interests, like cost reduction,
25 image improvement and new
25 23
market opportunities.
11 For 343 of the 602 options a
total number of 798 internal
0 stimuli has been mentioned.
No No No No No Bus Con Inv No Ins
cle t a t t e t u
ar e our re ltern yet re yet re iness flictin stmen echno fficie
nvi spo ativ qui qui disa g fu t no log nt ca
ron n e r r d n i
me sibili avail ed by ed by vant ction t just cal ch pacity
nta t
l be y
abl
e
leg c a
isla ustom ge
al r if
equ ied
alle
nge
Barriers to eco-design
nef tion ers irem
it ent
s Figure 4 shows that 425 barriers
were mentioned for 329 of the
Figure 4: The barriers for eco-design 602 eco-design options.
The most frequently mentioned
barrier to eco-design was

16 THE JOURNAL OF SUSTAINABLE PRODUCT DESIGN · JULY 1997


ANALYSIS

‘conflicts with functional product


requirements’. However, further
or improved product designs in
45% of the 77 companies studied.
The project
analysis has shown that this does The project indicates that most
not prevent action. Many options progress in eco-design was indicates that
have been completed, regardless achieved when the company had
of this barrier. This also applies a strong drive for (new) product most progress
to barriers such as: development.
• not yet required by legislation The implementation of eco- in eco-design
• not yet required by (industrial) design improvement options
customers was mostly driven by strong was achieved
• business disadvantage internal stimuli and/or external
• investment not justified stimuli. Options that were when the
• insufficient capacity. environmentally beneficial –

The real ‘no go’ barriers ie.


but lacked internal or external
stimuli – did not obtain the
company had
obstacles that make eco-design
impossible for companies, are:
interest of the participating
companies. Therefore, if SMEs
a strong drive
• no clear environmental benefit are to broaden their scope from
• not our responsibility specific eco-design improve-
for (new)
• no alternative available. ment options that create direct
commercial results to eco-design product
options that require investments,
The IC EcoDesign project
in 1996–1998
there are two clear rules: development.
Rule 1: Ensure strong and stable
The results of the IC EcoDesign external stimuli, focused on
project in 1995 justified the specific eco-design strategies,
follow-up stage in 1996–98. In especially for those options that
1996, 151 companies participated require a major investment and
in the project. The target for 1997 create only long-term profits.
was set at 150; and the target for
Rule 2: Try to motivate companies
1998 is 200 companies. Some
towards eco-design when there
preliminary results of the project
is strong internal motivation
in 1996 are described in the
towards product innovation.
publication ‘Eco design: benefits
A project like the IC EcoDesign
for the environment and profit
project can create a synergy
for the company’ (Bottcher and
between eco-design innovative-
Hartman, 1997).
ness and the corporate drive for
innovation, resulting in the
Conclusions creation of products that are
highly innovative and that have
The analysis of the IC EcoDesign
a high (environmental) quality
project in 1995, indicates that the
as well.
project appears to have enhanced
the awareness of eco-design in The IC EcoDesign project has
almost all participating SMEs. The been a stimulus for eco-design
project appears to have acted as in Dutch industry, as well as for
a catalyst for the application of academic research. Eco-design is
eco(re)design principles in new moving from its infancy in the

JULY 1997 · THE JOURNAL OF SUSTAINABLE PRODUCT DESIGN 17


ANALYSIS

Netherlands, and this is being tion’ (Hemel and Brezet, 1997),


supported by recent develop- the eco-design credit system and
ments such as the recently an ambitious new government
published United Nations programme ‘Ecology, Economy
Environmental Programme and Technology’ aimed at
(UNEP) manual ‘Ecodesign: a enhancing eco-efficient
promising approach to sustain- innovations. •
able production and consump-

References
Bottcher, H. and R. Hartman, ‘Ecodesign: benefit for the environment and
profit for the company’ in Industry and Environment, Vol. 20, UNEP, Industry
and Environment (1997).

Riele, H. te and A. Zweers, ‘Eco-design: Acht voorbeelden van


milieugerichte produktontwikkeling’, (NOTA/SDU, Den Haag, 1994).

Coehoorn, C.A., ‘The Dutch Innovation Centres: implementation of


technology policy or facilitation of small enterprises?’ (Labyrinth
Publication, Capelle a/d Ijssel, 1995).

Hemel, C.G. van and T. Keldmann, ‘Applying ‘Design for X’ experience in


‘Design for Environment’ ’, in G.Q. Huang (ed.) ‘Design for X’; Concurrent
Engineering Imperatives, (Chapmann & Hall, London, UK, 1996) pp. 72–95.

Brezet, J.C. e.a., ‘PROMISE Handleiding voor milieugerichte produkt-


ontwikkeling’, (NOTA/SDU, Den Haag, 1997).

Hemel, C.G. van, ‘Tools for setting realisable priorities at strategic level
in ‘Design for Environment’‘, (Proceedings of International Conference
on Engineering Design, Prague, 22–24 August 1995) pp. 10440–1047.

Hass, J.L., ‘Environmental (‘Green’) management typologies: an


evaluation, operationalisation and empirical development’ in Business
Strategy and the Environment, Vol. 5, (1996) pp.59-68.

Hemel, C.G. van, and J.C. Brezet eds., ‘Ecodesign; a Promising Approach to
Sustainable Production and Consumption’, (UNEP/IE, Paris, 1996) pp.59–68.

18 THE JOURNAL OF SUSTAINABLE PRODUCT DESIGN · JULY 1997


ANALYSIS

Improving the life cycle


of electronic products:
case studies from the US
electronics industry
Patricia S Dilloni
Research Associate, The Gordon Institute at Tufts University, US

Product stewardship and ‘Design and standards that go beyond


for Environment’ (DfE) programmes concerns about manufacturing
aim to improve the environmental process, wastes and releases.
aspects of a product throughout its Pressures that impact on product
life cycle. Leading companies in the design, marketability, and post-
US electronics industry, driven by consumer disposal, most notably
emerging regulation and market eco-label requirements and
opportunities, have embraced these product ‘take back’ legislation.
principles with the tandem goals of Their suppliers and customers
Patricia S Dillon is a research
enhancing products’ environmental are increasingly sensitive to
associate at the Gordon Institute
and economic performance. This environmental issues such as
at Tufts University, US, specialising
article presents the case studies energy efficiency, material use
in business strategy, the environment,
of three compamies – Hewlett- (for example, recycled content,
and public policy. Ms. Dillon also
Packard, Nortel and Compaq ozone depleting substances
provides consulting services to major
Computer – to illustrate the (ODCs)), and product recovery
corporations and industry associations
practices and direction of US and recycling. Together these
such as the World Business Council for
electronics manufacturers. The life pressures are motivating elec-
Sustainable Development (WBCSD). Her
cycle management programmes tronics firms to re-examine their
current work focuses on such issues as
of these firms include supplier practices and product design to
extended product responsibility,
involvement management pro- compete in a highly competitive
electronics recycling, and sustainable
cesses, design for upgradeability market.
consumption and production. She
and recycling, improvements in
participates on various US Environ- The following case studies high-
energy efficiency, and asset recov-
mental Protection Agency (EPA) advisory light selected life cycle manage-
ery and recycling. These initiatives
panels and is on the Advisory Board of ment or product stewardship
demonstrate progress in improving
the Greening of Industry Network. Prior activities of three US electronics
the environmental aspects of prod-
to joining the Gordon Institute, Ms. companies — Compaq
ucts; however, they are largely
Dillon was a research analyst at the Computer, Hewlett-Packard
incremenetal when viewed within
Center for Environmental Management and Northern Telecom (Nortel).
the context of sustainability.
at Tufts University (1985–1994). The case histories illustrate the
breadth of extended product
Introduction responsibility programmes in
lectronics firms are subject this industry sector, including
E to a proliferation of inter-
national environmental policies
‘Design for Environment’ (DfE),
product ‘take back’, and new
customer-supplier partnerships.

JULY 1997 · THE JOURNAL OF SUSTAINABLE PRODUCT DESIGN 19


ANALYSIS

In many respects, these cycle. In earlier years, Compaq • design for reuse and
programmes are in their infancy, considered its job done when the upgradeability.
but represent the leading-edge of product left manufacturing and
product life cycle management was sold in the marketplace. The Packaging
in US companies. introduction of a 3 year warranty
· minimum 35% recycled
extended Compaq ownership content
concerns through service and
Life cycle management · no heavy metals in
support. With the advent of
packaging inks
At the root of the life cycle ‘take back’ legislation in Europe,
· 100% Kraft paperboard,
approach is design — that is, Compaq’s view of the product
no bleach
design to minimise adverse life cycle has been stretched to
· use of recyclable materials
health, safety and environmental the end of its product’s life.
only
impacts for the manufacture, use
This paradigm shift created a new
and disposal of products. A focus Plastics
mandate for design. The ability
on product design is critical to · use only recyclable
to cost-effectively service and
achieving environmental thermoplastics
repair the product, as well as
improvement, given the rate of · consolidate plastic types
recycle the product at ‘end of
new product introductions in
life’, became an integral part of · use ISO markings to identify
the industry. At Hewlett-Packard resin type and exact blend
the competitiveness equation.
(HP) for example, more than half
· no paint finishes
of 1995 orders were for products Product life cycle management at
Compaq is market-driven. For · labels: moulded in or use
introduced in the previous two
this reason, Compaq is not same resin type as housing
years (Annual Report, 1996).
developing complex Life Cycle
Product stewardship efforts Disassembly and recycling
Assessment (LCA) tools to
extend beyond product design · use of standard screw
identify environmental impact.
in these companies. To influence heads
Rather, customer needs, expecta-
the inputs to its products and · design modular components
tions and regulatory trends are
processes, Compaq, HP and · minimize number of parts
translated into product, process
Nortel are developing supplier
or service features. The personal Energy conservation
management processes, which
computer industry is also a high · comply with Energy Star
adds environmental issues to
volume, low margin business. standards
supplier management alongside
Therefore, Compaq pays
traditional concerns such as
particular attention to costs. Design for reuse
quality, delivery and cost. Energy
· user upgradeability
consumption of products and Design guidelines at a glance
· use of industry standard
processes are also a major target. In 1994, Compaq completed
architecture.
At the end of product life, these comprehensive environmental
companies engage in selected design guidelines. The design
collection of products from guide promotes the adoption of
customers for processing at a life cycle perspective in the Figure 1: Sample design
recycling centres in the US and design of products, and specifi- guidelines from Compaq
Europe. cally addresses the following
issues: Figure 1 highlights some design
‘Design for Environment’ • material selection, focusing parameters within each category.
on recyclability
at Compaq Computer Compaq finds synergy between
• design for disassembly DfE and other priority design
Worldwide competitive pressures
• packaging materials objectives, namely ‘design for
have led Compaq to re-define
• energy conservation manufacturability’ and ‘design
the boundary of its product life

20 THE JOURNAL OF SUSTAINABLE PRODUCT DESIGN · JULY 1997


ANALYSIS

for serviceability’. For example, your computer. This is accom-


fewer parts simplifies manufactur- plished through the use of alterna- The
ing, while facilitating recycling. tive technologies for mounting
Similarly, easy disassembly facili- components and easily accessible upgradeable
tates the servicing, upgrading and sub-assemblies. In Compaq’s
recycling of equipment as well. recent Deskpro models, a user PC lowers
can easily upgrade the video
Easy upgradeability
One of the most promising reuse
performance, the microprocessor,
or the memory and easily access
the lifetime
and recycling opportunities for
electronics can be found in
the hard drive and expansion slots
to replace or add new features.
cost of
upgradeable products. Product
upgrade features help avoid early Zero insertion force (ZIF) computer
obsolescence and increase the One technology that enables easy
product life by facilitating the upgrades is the zero insertion ownership,
replacement of electronic compo- force (ZIF) socket that holds the
nents, while avoiding the unneces-
sary disposal of mechanical parts,
microprocessor in place on the
motherboard. This socket replaces
a growing
such as the plastic housing, power
supply and metal chassis, which do
the traditional solder mounting,
which is considered a semi-
concern to
not impact product functionality. permanent connection technol-
For example, a customer who
ogy. The ZIF socket uses a tension customers as
bar to hold the microprocessor
purchased a 486/33 MHZ computer
with 4 megabytes of RAM may
and force a connection. This technological
technology allows the user to
have trouble running Windows
95. Rather than discarding the old
easily remove and replace the old obsolescence
microprocessor and install updated
computer and buying a new
Pentium-based computer, a user
or faster technology, simply by occurs at
unlatching and relatching the bar.
can attain similar results by
upgrading the microprocessor to From an environmental vantage an ever
a Pentium and adding additional point, upgradeable products
RAM. The added bonus — the conserve resources. For the most increasing
upgrade is a fraction of the cost of part, however, this is not critical
a new computer (for example, the
upgrade costs approximately $300
to the purchasing decisions of
customers, who are concerned
rate.
compared to $2000 for a Pentium- predominantly about costs and
based product). product features. For Compaq and
its customers, the upgradeable PC
While any PC can be upgraded,
is important from another angle.
if you have the technical knowl-
It lowers the lifetime cost of
edge and are willing to replace
computer ownership, a growing
the motherboard or manually
concern to customers as techno-
de-solder the microprocessor chip
logical obsolescence occurs at an
and potentially end up with a
ever increasing rate. Upgradeable
mess, Compaq’s designs are truly
products also lower the costs
‘upgradeable’ by the average user
of servicing products, for those
without the use of specialised
customers who do not want to do
tools and/or the risk of damaging
it themselves.

JULY 1997 · THE JOURNAL OF SUSTAINABLE PRODUCT DESIGN 21


ANALYSIS

Product stewardship at
Hewlett-Packard Metric Improvement
HP’s environmental philosophy Number of parts 1650 to 350
took a significant stride in 1992
Weight 13 kg to 7 kg
with the launch of its product
stewardship programme. The Number of screws 4
company made a commitment to (to module level)
move beyond the factory and an Time to disassemble 4 minutes
emphasis on the manufacturing (to module level)
process to embrace a new life
Number of materials 2 (pure plastic and steel)
cycle philosophy. The life cycle (housing and chassis)
approach broadened HP’s
Energy efficiency All 486s and most Pentiums meet
concerns to encompass product
Energy Star requirements
design, packaging, distribution,
use, and disposal, in addition to Batteries No heavy metals
traditional manufacturing issues. No batteries in some models

Most importantly, the life cycle Flame retardants No brominated flame retardants
approach allows HP’s Business (housing and chassis) (PBB/PBDE)
Units to identify and address Packaging 75% recycled corrugated EPS foam
emerging global product legisla- No heavy metals in inks
tion and market expectations.
Manuals 400 pages to 150 pages
Indeed, it was a desire to stay
50% recycled content
ahead of legislative developments Recycling compatible binding
and voluntary programmes such No heavy metals in inks
as German ‘take back’ and US
Energy Star requirements, and
respond to an increase in the
number of customers seeking Figure 2: Environmental improvements for HP Vectra personal computers
more environmentally-sound (Korpalski, 1996)
products, that triggered HP’s
product stewardship programme. The product stewards create CPO was subject to a prolifera-
As a result, Hewlett-Packard cross-functional teams, as tion of emerging ‘green’ market
developed a global product stew- needed, to deliberate on issues forces. Customers were increas-
ardship network and manage- and weigh up all aspects of ingly asking about environmental
ment process that provides design — from cost and perfor- features and the ‘green’ impact
Business Units with support, mance to environmental impact. of HP products, including energy
tools and information, as well as efficiency, packaging, recyclabil-
Product stewardship at
autonomy, to develop responses ity and the use of ozone deplet-
the business level
that meet the demands of their ing substances.
The Computer Products
product lines and customers. Eco-labels and voluntary stan-
Organisation (CPO) first tested
Each of HP’s product lines has a product stewardship concepts dards were driving competitors
product steward who champions within HP. As the producer of to introduce new products.
the programmes and coordinates HP’s widely-recognised and high- European ‘take back’ require-
efforts to identify, evaluate and volume LaserJet and InkJet print- ments were pushing product
respond to any market forces ers and personal computers, CPO stewardship (Korpalski, 1994).
that could impact on that was a good place to start. CPO developed a set of metrics
product line. to help drive product stewardship

22 THE JOURNAL OF SUSTAINABLE PRODUCT DESIGN · JULY 1997


ANALYSIS

improvements and to provide wrapped around it. The new HP


management with a mechanism Packaging Assembly Concept
to review and measure progress. (PAC) replaces the metal chassis
Metrics were chosen based on with expanded polypropylene
customer inquiries, government (EPP) foam. The foam chassis
initiatives, proposed ecolabel cushions sensitive electronic
criteria and ‘end of life’ handling parts during shipping, while
considerations. For products, reducing the number of mechan-
consumables, and packaging, ical parts needed to hold parts in
CPO chose to focus on energy position. The foam chassis has
efficiency and reducing its an added benefit of reducing
contribution to the waste stream. product development time, since
prototypes require less prepara-
Vectra series PCs
tion and assembly time with the
The environmental improve-
easy to mould foam.
ments achieved for one product,
the Vectra series of personal Hewlett-Packard’s chemical
analysis business adopted the
HP Vectra PCs
computers is shown in Figure 2.

HP’s Vectra VL series carries the


innovative PAC technology in its
new 1100 Series HPLC systems.
are among a
comprehensive German Blue This new packaging design
Angel label for PCs, a tribute to resulted in major costs savings in growing
its environmental performance. assembly and disassembly, since
The German Blue Angel is fewer parts and no assembly number of HP
granted only to PCs that meet or tools are needed. For example,
exceed 65 requirements in a
broad range of environmental
the new product design resulted products that
in:
and safety categories. Product
recycling is an important aspect
• a 70% reduction in mechanical are designed
housing parts
in PC Blue Angel certification.
• a 95% reduction in screw joints to be easier to
Most of the Vectra PCs meet US • a 70% reduction in assembly
Energy Star requirements and are
easier to disassemble and recycle
time take apart
• a 90% reduction in product
than previous models due to the
use of fewer materials, parts, and
disassembly time compared to
previous models.
and recycle.
screws. Indeed, it takes a recycler
only four minutes to break down EPP foam can also be 100%
the computer into its component recycled into the source material
parts. In addition, the product polypropylene (Huber and
mass was reduced by 46%, while Berndt, 1996).
the weight of paper-based
Asset management and
manuals was cut by over 60%.
recycling
A new ‘packaging’ concept Managing the ‘end of life’ of
reduces waste electronic equipment provides
One innovative solution multiple business opportunities
developed in HP’s workstation for Hewlett-Packard, from
division requires 30% less improved customer service and
packaging because protective sourcing of spare parts to new
packaging is built into the revenue streams in some cases.
product itself, instead of being

JULY 1997 · THE JOURNAL OF SUSTAINABLE PRODUCT DESIGN 23


ANALYSIS

The company operates product also frees up HP’s manufacturing


In the past, recovery centres in Roseville, capacity, allowing production
California and Grenoble, France. units to concentrate on manufac-
the Hardware The primary mission of the
turing new product.
California-based Hardware In addition, for some older tech-
Recycling Recycling Organisation (HRO) nologies which are no longer in
is to recover useful service parts production, recovery of service
Organisation through the disassembly and parts from used equipment is the
refurbishment of HP and non-HP only option, and therefore, it is
programme excess equipment and parts. HRO vital to keeping equipment in
also serves as one of HP’s recy- service.
was passive; cling hubs. Equipment and parts
In the past, the HRO programme
that are not suitable for service
was passive; they waited for
they waited are routed to environmentally-
responsible, non-competitive
equipment to come to them. This
is changing into a more active
for equipment recovery channels. This includes
the re-sale of components and
programme, a programme that
deliberately pulls product from
parts such as disc drives and
to come to motors, as well as the recycling
markets into the HP recycling
system in order to recover valu-
of precious metals, non-ferrous
them. This is metals and plastics. Overall, HP
able service parts. For example,
in late 1994, HP’s marketing
recycles or reuses 98% by weight
department initiated a ‘trade-in’
changing into of the material received from
programme for LaserJets with a
customers or HP operations.
dual goal.
a more active Salvaging parts from used equip-
An obvious goal was to increase
ment allows HP to improve its
the sale of new LaserJets; an
programme that service levels; in particular, it
additional driver was to increase
increases parts availability while
the supply of spare parts to the
deliberately lowering costs. Indeed, the
origins of the HRO operation lie
service organisation and to lower
service costs. HP will also buy
pulls products here. In 1987, HP found it diffi-
cult and expensive to obtain new
back equipment that they are
interested in for service parts.
from markets service parts for some printers.
Plastics recycling
In its search for solutions, the
Finding solutions for the plastics
into the HP service organisation found that
‘tear down’ of used equipment
waste stream from scrapped
products is a priority for HP,
recycling and subsequent refurbishment of
parts to be a cheaper and more
with preference given to recy-
cling. At the same time, HP prod-
reliable source of service parts.
system. HRO could fill an order for spare
uct groups are looking towards
meeting the expectations of an
parts in 2 weeks, in comparison
increasingly environmentally-
to over 6 months for some new
sensitive customer base.
parts.
Merging these two objectives,
HRO now stocks the service
HP is working with its suppliers,
supply pipeline, resulting in an
its recycling facilities, and its
immediate turn around for
printer division to qualify
service parts. Stocking service
recycled content plastic in HP
parts using the HRO organisation

24 THE JOURNAL OF SUSTAINABLE PRODUCT DESIGN · JULY 1997


ANALYSIS

products, thereby creating a scrap. paid United Parcel Sevice (UPS)


market for the output generated label that is provided with the
Other HP product lines are
by the recycling facilities and product inserts.
exploring the use of recycled-
improving the environmental
content in plastic parts, although Since the programme’s inception
profile of its products.
uncertainty in recycled-resin in 1991, approximately 13 million
In July 1995, HP introduced its supply makes designers hesitant cartridges have been recycled,
first recycled-content product to to specify recycled-content in at no cost to the customer.
the US market, the DeskJet 850C new products and undergo costly Cartridges are disassembled and
InkJet printer. The printer outer and time consuming qualification over 98% of the cartridge by
cover contains up to 25% and certification processes. weight is recycled or used in the
recycled-content acylonitrile manufacture of new cartridges.
With a projected increase in
butadiene styrene (ABS) plastic, As an example, the following is
demand for recycled resin, one
a combination of post-consumer a breakdown for one cartridge
of the significant challenges
and post-process wastes. This model:
ahead for manufacturers such as
was a major milestone for HP’s • 37% reuse of parts, such as
HP, the information technology
product stewardship programme; screws, springs, clips, magnetic
industry in general and its resin
the company was able to demon- roller, and corona assembly
suppliers, is building up the
strate and qualify 25% recycled- 38% parts re-moulded for use in
supply of recycled resin. For •
content in a cosmetic applica- new cartridges, including plastic
example, HP has difficulty getting
tion. housings
their printers back from
Meeting extremely tight colour customers due to their long life • 24% materials are recycled
controls for this light coloured and secondary market value. (eg. some plastic parts and
part was the biggest technical Building an effective plastics electronic assemblies) and sold
challenge to overcome in the recycling infrastructure will to alternative markets for use
project. As a result, in 1995 more require coordinated efforts in new products; and 1% sent
than 1.1 million pounds of recy- among manufacturers, recyclers, for landfill disposal, including
cled plastic was used in the and resin suppliers to ensure seals, foams, and adhesive
DeskJet 850 printer series. When product designs that facilitate labels (McGavis, 1994).
the recycled-content is incorpo- plastics recycling, effective
rated into the entire 850C plat- product recovery channels, and
form, HP estimates a diversion of improvement in plastics identifi-
Product Life Cycle
6 million pounds of plastic from cation, sorting and recycling Management (PLCM)
the waste stream annually. technologies. at Nortel
Access to a consistent supply of Toner cartridge recycling Nortel approaches its PLCM
recycled resin, in terms of qual- programme strategically.
Over the life of a printer, a
ity, quantity, and cost, is a major Consistent with corporate
customer may go through 50 or
issue. When HP embarked on objectives, the PLCM programme
more print cartridges, amounting
this project, recycled plastic resin aims to create customer value.
to a waste stream of cartridges
for this application was not even and packaging that can exceed Customer value takes many
commercially available. HP’s that of the printer itself. shapes. Customer value is created
research and development staff, when the lifetime costs of prod-
To facilitate recycling these
design engineers and procure- uct ownership are lowered
‘consumables’, HP offers US
ment managers worked closely through increased energy effi-
customers a programme for
with resin manufacturers and ciency, longer life products, or
returning toner cartridges for
injection moulders to co-develop less toxic products; or through
recycling. For LaserJet toner
and qualify a usable recycled ‘value added’ recycling services
cartridges, customers are able to
product and identify a reliable of products at the ‘end of life’,
return used cartridges in the
and steady source of pre- for example.
original packaging using a pre-
consumer and post-consumer

JULY 1997 · THE JOURNAL OF SUSTAINABLE PRODUCT DESIGN 25


ANALYSIS

PLCM also strengthens strategic Supply management and and disposal. As a result, the
alliances with suppliers, which chemical use reduction supplier has the incentive to help
are of growing importance to Nortel is embarking on an innov- Nortel minimise chemical use by
Nortel’s overall business strategy. ative business strategy with its introducing innovations, search-
chemical suppliers designed to ing for alternatives to hazardous
Nortel re-oriented its corporate
reduce chemical use and lower chemicals, suggesting more effi-
function to guide and stimulate
costs. The hallmark of the cient chemical processes, and
PLCM efforts and to philosophi-
strategy is a change in the once delivering only the quantity of
cally change how the company
competitive nature of the manu- chemicals needed.
approaches its environmental
responsibilities. Instead of acting facturer/supplier relationship. Such a supply management
only as a steward of regulatory Traditionally, suppliers are relationship allows Nortel to
action, through the PLCM concentrate on what
programme Nortel it knows best –
Environmental Affairs has network solutions in
become a proactive busi- the telecommunica-
ness development unit. tions industry – while
The goal is to improve leaving the chemicals
the environmental to the experts. The
performance of the corpo- ultimate goal is to
ration through changes in reduce chemical use
all stages of the product and costs, and increase
life cycle – design, supply quality in products and
management, manufactur- processes due to the
ing, marketing, distribu- leveraging of outside
tion, and product disposal. expertise.
financially motivated to sell
In its PLCM programme, Nortel Extending product life
more product to Nortel. Under a
Environmental Affairs work in through design
new ‘shared savings’ relationship
two primary areas – Product A modular philosophy was
being tested at Corkstown,
Technology and Business Process adopted for Nortel’s new Vista
Canada, Nortel and its chemical
Solutions – which respond to telephone models, called Power
supplier will work together to
internal operations opportunities Touch in the US. The new model
minimise chemical use.
as well as the marketplace. In allows the customer to upgrade
Product Technology, activities In its long-term contract, Nortel
the unit without buying a new
focus on research and develop- purchases the services of the
one and scrapping the old one.
ment of cutting-edge, environ- supplier for a fixed fee, rather
The principle driver behind the
mentally superior technologies than purchasing the chemicals
design was to create ‘user value’
and high leverage product solu- themselves. In this way, Nortel
by leveraging the customer’s
tions. In Business Process removes the financial incentive
initial investment through a
Solutions, the activities focus on of the supplier to sell more
flexible and upgradeable design.
developing innovative ways of chemicals. In this new relation-
ship, the supplier is responsible The new model is designed in
supplying and managing opera-
not only for supplying the two parts – a standard base with
tions to achieve resource effi-
needed chemicals, but also for basic telephony features and an
ciency in the supply chain.
providing services such as upgradeable slide-in module that
Below is a sample of some new
chemical process expertise and can add features such as caller
directions.
chemical management, storage ID, call waiting, a larger screen

26 THE JOURNAL OF SUSTAINABLE PRODUCT DESIGN · JULY 1997


ANALYSIS

size or a better graphics display. lead-free interconnection tech-


The base holds its design for a nology has been applied in the For Nortel,
longer period of time, while the assembly of printed circuit
module can be replaced to boards in a test group of two packaging
provide the latest features at half types of Meridian office tele-
the cost of replacing the tele- phones. Test results are encour- was an
phone. This new design aging as the corporation prepares
minimises product obsolescence to expand testing of this new obvious and
and reduces the volume of prod- technology on a wider range of
uct headed for recycling or
disposal.
Nortel products.
early target
Lead-free interconnection tech-
Lead-free interconnection nology has several important for waste
technology benefits for Nortel. It will
Nortel introduced the world’s improve hazardous waste
management and reduce special
reduction,
first lead-free telephone to the
market in 1996, demonstrating a
lead-free interconnection tech-
handling and process monitoring
costs.
as legislation
nology for printed circuit boards.
The breakthrough technology
The new innovation also antici-
pates increasing pressure from
worldwide
follows several years of industry-
wide research and development
governments in some European
countries to control the disposal
focused
and is recognised as a significant of electronic waste containing
step toward Nortel’s objective to lead. This new technology will attention
reduce hazardous waste genera- reduce the environmental impact
tion and the use of persistent of product disposal, resulting on this waste
toxic substances in product. As from lead leaching into soil and
part of its research and develop- water from landfills. Elimination stream and
ment efforts which began in 1992, of this toxic heavy metal also
Nortel in conjunction with
suppliers and customers evalu-
reduces employee risk and asso- disposal costs
ciated monitoring costs.
ated 200 alternative alloys for
performance and cost, as well as
New packaging concepts skyrocketed.
to reduce waste
environmental impact.
For Nortel, packaging was an
Nortel uses about 140 tons of
obvious and early target for
lead in solder per year, approxi-
waste reduction, as legislation
mately 80% of which is incorpo-
worldwide focused attention on
rated in products which may be
this waste stream and disposal
disposed of in landfills. The
costs skyrocketed. A packaging
remaining 20% is process waste
council made up of key functions
which is usually recycled. The
in Nortel was formed in 1995
new alloy applied by Nortel uses
to promote returnable and recy-
99.3% tin and 0.7% copper to
clable packaging, and to assist
provide lead-free interconnec-
Nortel sites in achieving the
tion comparable in quality to the
corporate target for reduction
standard industry solder contain-
of non-hazardous solid waste.
ing 37% lead. To date, the new

JULY 1997 · THE JOURNAL OF SUSTAINABLE PRODUCT DESIGN 27


ANALYSIS

As a result, packaging changes are a mission: and market conditions.


springing up throughout Nortel, ‘to provide entrepreneurial solutions Over 90% of the equipment
leading to significant cost savings and services for the valued recovery processed at the facilities (by
and a 10 to 15% reduction in of materials and surplus assets weight) is recovered for reuse or
packaging volume. For example, while demonstrating environmental recycling. Product and compo-
standardisation and re-design of leadership.’ nent reuse and resale (for exam-
distribution packaging saves
To accomplish this mission, the ple, circuit boards, memory
approximately $5 million annu-
reclamation operation provides chips, line cards) account for
ally. These savings were achieved
Nortel divisions and customers approximately 50% of revenues,
by standardising, and thus reduc-
with a full range of asset disposal playing a greater role today than
ing the number of packaging
and recycling services, from in the past.
configurations. The resultant
equipment test and refurbish to
reduction in the number of box
resale of useable components to
configurations led to a greater Conclusions
recovery of precious and non-
reuse of boxes, the need for less
precious metals and plastics. The examples highlighted in
storage space and sorting, and
these case histories are just some
fewer boxes purchased. Nortel’s reclamation operations
of the initiatives undertaken by
date back to the 1970s, when
Shipping switching products in these three companies. Similar
they opened a facility in Barrie,
assembled mode, rather than activities are underway at Xerox
Ontario to provide an equipment
packaging and shipping compo- Corporation, IBM, Lucent
recycling service to Bell Canada,
nents separately for on-site Technologies (formerly AT&T),
a major customer.
assembly, saves an additional $5 Digital Equipment and Dell
million annually. This ‘plugs in Today, Nortel’s reclamation Computer, to name a few.
place’ shipping method (eg. line operations in the US and Canada
Common programme elements
cards pre-intalled) requires less process over 50 million pounds
among these companies are a
packaging, and reduces installa- of equipment annually, including
focus on product ‘Design for
tion time. central office switches, private
Environment’, supplier manage-
branch exchanges, cable and
Nortel designed a new ‘clam- ment, and improved asset
components from excess and
shell’ packaging system for management and recycling. For
obsolete inventory.
shipping circuit boards that the most part, the initiatives of
eliminates cardboard and foam About 50% of the equipment these companies are driven by
waste, and is reusable. The processed is Nortel’s own equip- business opportunities and exter-
packaging is also designed to ment and excess and obsolete nal pressures, rather than a
improve handling and storage inventory. ‘Trade ins’ and reliance on systematic, scientifi-
for customers. The clear plastic removal from customer sites cally-based assessment of prod-
allows customers to scan product account for the other 50%, uct systems such as Life Cycle
bar codes without opening the although Nortel is actively trying Assessments (LCA).
packaging and risking damage to to expand services to commercial
There are good business reasons
the product. The nesting and customers and suppliers. In the
for undertaking product life cycle
stacking feature of the clamshell United Kingdom, for example,
management (PLCM) or product
also saves space on the produc- Nortel negotiated with British
stewardship initiatives. Indeed,
tion floor. Telecom (BT) to begin taking
the companies taking part in this
back some older varieties of PBX
research emphasised that ‘if it
equipment for reuse and recycle.
Asset recycling doesn’t make economic sense,
In addition, Nortel is working
it is not going to happen’. The
Nortel operates three recycling with other European distributors
examples highlighted in this case
facilities in North America and to develop tailored product ‘take
demonstrate the convergence
one in the United Kingdom with back’ services to suit distributor
of environmental and business

28 THE JOURNAL OF SUSTAINABLE PRODUCT DESIGN · JULY 1997


ANALYSIS

performance objectives, for


example: More efficient use of energy and material resources
• Upgradeable designs can slow · greater or same functionality using less materials (by weight)
product obsolescence, increase
· reduced power consumption through Energy Star products
customer loyalty, lower cost
· reusable transport packaging
of product ownership, and
· reduction in packaging materials
improve product serviceability.
· selling functionality or service instead of products
• Designing products with reuse
(eg. call answering service)
and recycling in mind can lead
to lower manufacturing costs Pollution prevention
and improved manufacturability · elimination of chloroflurocarbons (CFCs) in manufacturing operations
due to parts consolidation and · lead-free solders
reduction in material variety,
· volatile organic compounds (VOC) - free fluxes
for example.
· removal of brominated flame retardants from plastics
• Extending product life through
· removal of heavy metals from packaging materials
asset management strategies
may improve the service Reuse and recycling
function, lower disposal costs, · reusable transport packaging
create new revenue streams, · recycled content in packaging and products
and introduce products to
· product design for recycling (eg., reduced material variety,
new markets. use of recyclable materials, plastics identification)
This is just the beginning of · equipment demanufacturing, component reuse and materials
product stewardship in the elec- reclamation
tronics industry. The companies · rechargeable battery recycling
highlighted in this study are in
the early stages of programme Extending the useful life of products
implementation. We can fully · improved asset management, including product redeployment,
expect continued progress as remanufacture, equipment conversion and recycling
more and more companies and · product design for upgrades, expansion and serviceability
Business Units within these · recovery of service parts from used equipment
companies realise the economic · lease-based programmes
advantages of life cycle manage-
ment programmes and begin to
focus their creativity and
Figure 3: EPA initiatives in the electronics industry
competitive spirit on eco-
efficiency throughout the prod-
uct life cycle. In addition, the
application of ISO 14000 princi-
ples should help companies focus
on continuous improvement.
The real question is how far the
sum of these largely incremental
improvements in the life cycle of
electronic products, as outlined
in Figure 3, will take us down the
path of sustainability.

JULY 1997 · THE JOURNAL OF SUSTAINABLE PRODUCT DESIGN 29


ANALYSIS

The challenge for public policy for Product-Oriented Pollution


will be in monitoring these Prevention’ (June 1997) by the
developments and recognising University of Tennessee. The
where economic and market author wishes to thank the staff
incentives are insufficient and at Compaq, HP and Nortel who
intervention is needed to achieve provided their assistance in
societal goals for environmental preparing the original case study.
quality. •

Endnotes
Acknowledgements 1. Since HP currently cannot
This article is adapted from guarantee an adequate supply of
research completed under a recycled resin to manufacture this
grant from the US Environmental printer line, they were careful to
Protection Agency, and first label the product as containing
published in ‘Extended Product ‘up to 25% recycled-content’.
Responsibility: A New Principle

References
Huber, L. and M. Berndt, ‘Squaring technical performance with
environmental needs,’ in Today’s Chemist at Work vol. 5, number 3
(March 1996) pp. 25–26.

Korpalski, T., ‘Pragmatic use of priority life cycle assessment elements to


help drive product stewardship’ (proceedings of the IEEE International
Symposium on Electronics and the Environment, May 1994).

Korpalski, T., ‘The role of the ‘product steward’ in advancing Design for
Environment in Hewlett-Packard’s computer products organization’
(proceedings of the IEEE International Symposium on Electronics and the
Environment, May 1996).

McGavis, D., ‘The energy bucket and a not-so-drop-in-the-bucket portion of


the waste stream, consumables’ (proceedings of the IEEE International
Conference on Electronics and the Environment, May 1994).

30 THE JOURNAL OF SUSTAINABLE PRODUCT DESIGN · JULY 1997


ANALYSIS

Mainstream appliance
meets eco-design
Andrew Sweatman (above) is a Research Andrew Sweatman and John Gertsakisi
Fellow with the Design for Environment
Research Group at Manchester Research Fellow, Design for Environment Research Group,
Metropolitan University, UK. He is Department of Mechanical Engineering, Design and
currently working on a research project
Manufacture, Manchester Metropolitan University, UK
called DEEDS (DEsign for Environment
Decision Support) in collaboration with Senior Programme Manager, EcoRecycle, Victoria, Australia
Electrolux. This involves testing and devel-
oping ‘Design for Environment’ tools with
selected companies. The final outcome of The following case study of an ecological stewardship and
the project will be a toolkit of tools and electrical kettle was developed by long-term competitiveness.
methods to reduce the environmental the National Centre for Design at
impact of products. Sweatman also RMIT and an Australian appliance
manufacturer, as part of the
Introduction
lectures on these issues at Manchester
EcoReDesign Program. This uccessfully blending
Metropolitan University and Brunel
University, UK. Prior to this Sweatman programme demonstrates how
environmental improvements are
S environmental considerations
into the product development
was employed at the Centre for Design
at the Royal Melbourne Institute of possible through having a greater process whilst still retaining
Technology (RMIT), Australia, for 3 years insight into the ‘day to day’ use of functionality, consumer desir-
working on the EcoReDesign programme. products. This case history demon- ability and price performance,
strates how some noteworthy is increasingly becoming a key
John Gertsakis is a Senior Programme objective for many progressive
ecological benefits can be
Manager with EcoRecycle Victoria, companies around the world.
achieved through a balance of
Australia, a new State Government Agency Nevertheless, new technologies
design innovation, environmental
responsible for encouraging, resourcing that offer substantial environ-
understanding and common sense
and supporting waste avoidance and mental improvements are not
engineering principles. Although
resource recovery. Until recently he was always readily available or cost
constrained by the usual factors
Project Manager at the National Centre for effective. One way of moving
found in most manufacturing
Design at RMIT, where together with Chris towards more eco-efficient prod-
companies, the project was
Ryan and Helen Lewis, he successfully ucts is to better understand how
underpinned by the simple view
developed and implemented the EcoRe- people actually use products.
that ‘the environment matters'. The
Design Program. As part of the same team The EcoReDesign Program has
resulting Kambrook Axis electric
he co-authored the newly launched 'Guide demonstrated how environmen-
kettle uses up to 25% less energy
to EcoReDesign’. He has written and compared to similar kettles and is tal improvements are possible by
lectured widely in Australia, and has designed with waste avoidance as having a greater insight into the
worked exclusively on the practice and the key driver. It is also ‘designed ‘day to day’ use of products. This
policy of eco-design since 1991. He is a for disassembly’ to facilitate more socio-environmental approach
specialist in environmental matters related viable and cost-effective ‘end of to product development
to electrical and electronic products, life’ recycling and materials recov- acknowledges the critical role
and recently co-authored a major report on ery. The Kambrook Axis provides an of consumer behaviour in either
the implications of extending producer optimistic glimpse at what can be exacerbating or minimising envi-
responsibility in the Australian electrical achieved through a collaborative ronmental impacts through the
and electronic products sector. He was process that adopts 'environment' use of everyday objects. Too
also the editor of the EcoReDesign as a critical focus, serving both often the detailed interaction
newsletter from 1992–1996.

JULY 1997 · THE JOURNAL OF SUSTAINABLE PRODUCT DESIGN 31


ANALYSIS

This socio- between user and product


remains under-studied or under-
of the eco-design improvements
achieved.
valued, especially by volume
environmental producing small appliance
The project involved a diverse
range of designers and
manufacturers whose priorities
approach are often the deadlines and
researchers. Interdisciplinary
collaboration was a critical factor
demands of creating new models
both in conducting rigorous
to product for special occasions such as
research, generating novel design
Christmas.
solutions, and realising the final
development product. Specific research tasks
Process, ideas and involved:
acknowledges collaboration • optimising the kettle's thermal
performance by conducting
the role of The Axis kettle is the direct
result of an Australian-based
numerous theoretical and
experimental studies of boiling
eco-design demonstration
consumer programme known as the
kettles
• conducting a social survey to
EcoReDesign Program. In
behaviour summary, the project is about
gain a more detailed under-
standing of how people use,
assisting Australian manufactur-
in either ers from a wide variety of sectors
maintain and dispose of their
electric kettles, which was the
to improve the environmental
predominant factor confirming
exacerbating performance of their products
through innovative research,
where and how energy was
being unnecessarily wasted
or minimising design and development strate-
gies. Funded by the Australian
• an assessment of plastics and
associated production issues
environmental Government, the ultimate aim of
EcoReDesign was to document
with a view to both minimising
the overall quantity and diver-
several 'real life' case studies and
impacts produce an information video
sity of plastics, and ensuring
‘end of life’ recyclability.
and manual for wider adoption
through by Australian companies, design-
The design of the kettle was
ers, engineers and others
significantly influenced by
the use of involved in new product devel-
research, which showed that
opment (Gertsakis, Lewis and
most people reboil electric
everyday Ryan, 1997). Although not always
ground-breaking in its essential
kettles even when there was no
need to. This issue was crucial in
objects. content, the EcoReDesign
process was successful in apply-
formulating the design brief and
new design directions, as was the
ing eco-design within a highly
commitment to ergonomic
commercial environment, on
requirements.
time, on budget and with the
bonus of national design awards Early in the process, an all-day
recognising the kettle's attention workshop was held at RMIT, as a
not only to environmental way of exploring and generating
aspects but also valid consumer innovative and environmentally-
features. The process mapped out oriented responses to boiling
below provides an indication of water. This intensive brainstorm-
how the kettle resulted and some ing session also made a major

32 THE JOURNAL OF SUSTAINABLE PRODUCT DESIGN · JULY 1997


ANALYSIS

contribution toward developing


a more productive relationship Life cycle stages Greenhouse gas emissions (kg)
between company personnel
(management, technical and Manufacture of materials 18.6
marketing), National Centre for Materials packaging and transport 0.2
Design staff (designers,
engineers, energy and environ- Assembly and testing 0.1
ment experts, physicists, polymer
Kettle packaging and transport 14.5
specialists), and other stakehold-
ers in the kettle's life cycle, Operation and use of kettle 4703.5
including component and mater-
Disposal of kettle 0.0
ial suppliers. The workshop also
identified and considered prob-
lems and issues related to current Table 1: Impact of energy usage in terms of greenhouse gas emissions
kettles and their use, highlighting throughout the life cycle
several areas for further research
and investigation (Fussler and usage. Table 1 shows the the kettle's performance (ie.
James, 1996). expected impact of energy usage water temperature and there-
in terms of greenhouse gas emis- fore, indirectly, energy use)
sions. • using environmentally
The impact of kettles
Table 2 shows that even the preferred materials, ie.
An initial streamlined Life Cycle
resulting solid waste from energy recyclable plastics
Assessment (LCA) identified that
consumption is still more prob- • reducing material volume
the 'use' stage of the kettle's life
lematic than that from the final • consolidating material types
cycle was by far the most envi-
disposal of the kettle. This is a • designing the product for
ronmentally damaging. This was
result of waste produced through disassembly and recyclability.
chiefly due to the energy used in
the extraction of coal and waste
heating and re-heating water,
by-products of energy produc- Overall it was shown that to
which in turn involves the
tion. significantly improve the envi-
release of greenhouse gases and
ronmental performance of the
other emissions to air from the
kettle energy consumption
coal-fired power stations used to Maximising the brief and would have to be reduced. Other
generate that energy. The LCA
minimising energy use issues such as recyclability were
also indicated that solid waste
In addition to meeting the considered but energy conserva-
arising from discarded kettles,
company's usual requirements tion was the greatest priority. To
whilst not as critical as energy
for new product development, significantly reduce the energy
use, was also a minor but
that is, safety, good ergonomics, consumption of a kettle proved
nonetheless noteworthy impact.
styling and innovation – the to be difficult (Von Weisacker,
The impact of boiling water 7
brief also required the design 1997). Unless the product was
times a day (the calculated aver-
team to ensure environmental significantly reconfigured, such
age usage) over the 5 year life of
factors were successfully as a kettle that use microwaves,
the kettle is evident through a
integrated. The environmental the options for heating water
range of environmental impacts,
objectives included: are chiefly restricted to heating
whether this be the production
elements. As it is difficult to
of solid wastes or greenhouse • reducing energy consumption
radically improve element
gases. The tables show the over- • providing users with some form
technology other approaches
whelming impact of energy of information feedback about

JULY 1997 · THE JOURNAL OF SUSTAINABLE PRODUCT DESIGN 33


ANALYSIS

Life cycle stages Solid wastes (g)

Manufacture of materials 428.1

Materials packaging and transport 0.0

Assembly and testing 1.5

Kettle packaging and transport 641.8

Operation and use of kettle 244661.3

Disposal of kettle 1140.9

Table 2: Solid wastes resulting from energy consumption throughout the life cycle

Overall it was to reducing energy consumption


were required.
attempted to judge this by
touching the kettle to test

shown that to Without a technological fix


its temperature.
behavioural studies were
These outcomes showed that
significantly required to better understand
how consumers’ usage of kettles
three design improvements could
be made to reduce the energy
improve the affected the kettle's consumption
of energy. The study identified a
consumption of the kettle.
• Improve the water gauge.
range of areas where the design
environmental of the kettle could be improved
Make it easier to read by
placing it on top of the kettle
to reduce energy consumption.
performance These included:
rather than the current position
on the side of the kettle, which
• The method of judging the
of the kettle, water level. Only 26% of people
makes it difficult to read. By
only boiling the required
actually used the water gauge,
amount of water, substantial
energy almost half relied on the
energy savings could be
weight of the kettle whilst
achieved.
consumption others watched the rising water
in the kettle and some noted
• Keep the water hotter longer
by insulating the kettle to
would have to how long the tap was turned
on. Obviously if the gauge was
reduce the energy required for
reboils. The options available
be reduced. improved, boiling excessive
amounts of water could be
for insulating the kettle
included using a vacuum
reduced.
(similar to those in thermos
• Method of judging the water
flasks) expanded foam or an air
temperature. It was shown that
gap. It was shown that the least
most people re-boil kettles
expensive option of an air gap
even when there is no need to.
could achieve similar insulative
In addition to this it was shown
properties as the other systems.
that it was difficult for people
The design uses an inner and
to know whether a kettle did
outer wall to create the air gap
require re-boiling only, 10%

34 THE JOURNAL OF SUSTAINABLE PRODUCT DESIGN · JULY 1997


ANALYSIS

Time after boiling (minutes) 10 20 30 85

Minimum energy required to 46 82 107 202


reboil Axis kettle (kilojoules)

Minimum energy required to 85 123 153 259


reboil standard kettle (kilojoules)

Minimum energy saving on reboil 46 33 30 22


achieved by Axis kettle (%)

Table 3: Energy consumption during re-boiling

that reduces heat loss and also It can be seen through the heat loss and thus reduce energy
makes the kettle cool to touch. results in Table 3, that significant consumption on re-boils. On
• Include a temperature gauge environmental improvements completion of the Axis kettle
to allow users to see how hot can be made in products by (market-ready model), a more
the water is, therefore reducing better understanding how people focused environmental assess-
the number of reboils. use them. When designing for ment was conducted in lieu of
A ‘Temperature Sensitive the environment, breakthrough an LCA, as only two major areas
Indicator’ (TSI) was chosen to or leading-edge technologies were in need of comparison;
indicate the temperature. This may not always be available or that is, energy consumption and
TSI is positioned on top of the viable. Therefore by observing materials use (as they relate to
kettle and changes colour as inefficiencies of use, subtle ‘end of life’ options and solid
the temperature of the water changes in the product can be waste).
rises above 80oC. This shows made that can make significant
Analysis of the new kettle was
the user that the water is still environmental improvement.
conducted using various scenar-
sufficiently hot to make a Energy-star rated computers
ios, which took into account
beverage without having to make use of the fact that most
usage behaviour. Test and
reboil. people leave their computers on
comparisons were carried out on
even when they are not in use.
both a leading-brand kettle, and
Once these features were Similarly the Axis is an attempt
the previous (now superseded)
included in the kettle it was to maximise efficiency of use and
Kambrook kettle 1. It was found
necessary to test the improved thus and assist people to use an
that, on initial boiling, the Axis
environmental performance. everyday small appliance more
kettle require 6% energy to boil
The improved water gauge and effectively and efficiently.
water. It subsequently required
temperature gauge are difficult to
around 25% less energy to re-
test unless more behavioural
Environmental achievements boil the kettle, for up to 45
studies are undertaken to test
minutes after the initial boiling
whether people do use less water The kettle's key environmental
depending of course on varia-
and are not tempted to re-boil advantage is in its energy saving
tions in ambient temperature.
so often. In terms of the energy design. The solution was rela-
If the TPI was used correctly,
improvement from the insula- tively obvious – keep the water
and the kettle was not reboiled
tion, the following table gives an hotter longer. The kettle's
unnecessarily, total energy
indication of the energy savings double-wall design acts like a
savings of up to 25% could be
possible. high-tec tea cosy to minimise

JULY 1997 · THE JOURNAL OF SUSTAINABLE PRODUCT DESIGN 35


ANALYSIS

If every electric achieved. While these may not


appear to be large savings, when
In summary, the Axis kettle's
environment achievements
put in context with the theoreti- include:
kettle in current cal minimum amount of energy • up to 25% less electricity used
required to boil the water, they approximately 50% reduction
use in Australia are somewhat more substantial.

in number of materials
If we examine the energy loss, 66% of weight present in
was replaced the Axis demonstrates around

potentially recyclable materials
25% less energy loss on both (was previously 36%)
with a new Axis initial boiling and re-boiling. • 40% reduction in number of
The kettle's attention to waste components
kettle, Australia minimisation principles is yet • 16% reduction in the overall
another environmental feature. weight
could save It utilises less material in its
manufacture, it is also designed
• construction techniques to
facilitate easier dismantling.
approximately for disassembly to assist in
making ‘end of life’ recycling As one indication of the new

300,000 tonnes potentially more cost effective,


especially for those markets and
product's environmental poten-
tial, calculations suggest that if
countries where ‘producer every electric kettle in current
of carbon responsibility’ and product ‘take use in Australia was replaced
back’ regulations will require with a new Axis kettle, Australia
dioxide (CO2) manufacturers and distributors could save approximately
recover discarded appliances, 300,000 tonnes of carbon
per annum. avoid waste and recover dioxide (CO2) per annum. And
resources. The new kettle made given Australia's poor record
significant savings in terms of its and performance on significantly
material composition: 66% of the reducing its greenhouse gas
weight of the Axis now consists emissions, Australian industry,
of one recyclable material governments and consumers
(polypropylene), as opposed to need to save every tonne of
36% for the previous company carbon dioxide (CO2) they can
product. The total number of get their hands on. The Axis
different materials has nearly kettle is one small but significant
been halved, while the total indication of what is possible if
weight has been reduced by 16%. products are developed as the
In addition, the number of environment matters.
components in the Axis has been
reduced by 40% compared with
the previous model. Glues and Conclusions
screws were avoided, to facilitate The EcoDesign process for the
disassembly. Plastics components Axis kettle highlights a number
were joined together using either of key issues for the product
ultrasonic welding (which is development process:
compatible with recycling) or • Firstly, the company Kambrook
snap fits. All plastic parts were had a strong culture of innova-
identified with internationally tion and the ability to integrate
recognised codes. new ideas into their products,

36 THE JOURNAL OF SUSTAINABLE PRODUCT DESIGN · JULY 1997


ANALYSIS

therefore they were receptive Note


to environmental issues. 1
References
The Kambrook kettle project
• An LCA is a key requirement Gertsakis, J., H. Lewis, and C.
is simply one of the products
within the process, not only to Ryan, ‘A guide to EcoReDesign –
conducted under the ‘EcoRe-
ensure the product’s environ- improving the environmental
Design Program’; it is not a
mental impacts are prioritised, performance of manufactured
different initiative, indeed
but also to identify options for products’ (Melbourne, Australia:
‘Kambrook kettle project’ is a bit
environmental improvements – Centre for Design, RMIT, 1997).
misleading as it is all part of the
both technical and social.
same programme. In other words Fussler, C. and P. James, ‘Driving
• The EcoReDesign process was the Kambrook project under the eco innovation: A breakthrough
integrated at the start of the EcoReDesign resulted in the Axis discipline for innovation and
product development process kettle – Axis being the model sustainability’ (London, UK:
and involved senior manage- name. Pitman Publishing, 1996).
ment and marketing, not just
Von Weisacker, E., A. B. Lovins,
the designers. This factor is
Acknowledgements and L. H. Lovins, ‘Factor four:
vital for the full integration of
doubling wealth – halving
environmental issues into the The authors wish to acknowledge resource use’ (London, UK:
product design and ensures that the contribution made by several Earthscan Publications Limited,
the product brief included other key people in the research, 1997).
environmental requirements. design and development of the
• Support for the designers Kambrook Axis kettle: Frank
through training and publica- Bannigan, Phillip Higgins, Barry
tions was necessary after the Davies, Tony Archbold, Henry
specification stage to tackle Okraglik, Chris Ryan, Brent
detailed design issues eg. Bielby, Richard O'Sullivan, the
design for disassembly. • late John Millar, Deni Greene,
Gerry Mussett, Paul Taylor,
Edward Kosior, Norman Blaikie
and Malcolm Drysdale.

Dr Jonathan Williams, Head, Group for Environmental Manufacturing, UK,


will publish an article on eco-efficient product development in Issue 3,
not Issue 2 as previously mentioned.

JULY 1997 · THE JOURNAL OF SUSTAINABLE PRODUCT DESIGN 37


INTERVIEW

Dr Braden Allenby, Vice


President, Environment,
Health and Safety, AT&T, US
Martin Charteri
Joint Coordinator, The Centre for Sustainable Design, UK

What will be the key impacts companies that are actively doing
of the sustainability agenda DfE will design PCs in slightly
on product development and different ways. They may not use
design? polybrominated fire retardants,
or they may use some form of
irst, you have to define the
F scale. If you're looking at
individual firms in the short
modular design. But then you
need to think about the role of
PCs in the ‘service economy’,
term, I think what you'll see is
where the revenue stream comes
further experimentation with
Dr Braden Allenby is currently the not from pushing more products,
'Design for Environment' (DfE),
Environment, Health and Safety Vice but from providing a product
product ‘take back,’ different
President for AT&T. In addition, he is the that is optimised as a platform
ways of managing products, and
Vice-Chair of the Institute of Electrical for services. Over time, that
perhaps more practice with leas-
and Electronic Engineers (IEEE) Committee means a lot less manufacturing
ing products – which are all
on the Environment; a member of the per unit of Gross Domestic
heading towards a ‘functionality
Advisory Committee of the United Product (GDP).
economy.’ I think the focus will
Nations Environment Programme (UNEP)
remain on manufacturing and Now the interesting thing about
Working Group on Product Design for
manufactured products; even this is that it begins to change a
Sustainability; a member of ‘The
though 70-80% of economic lot of things which have some
International Journal of Industrial Ecology’
activity and employment in fundamental social impacts. It
and ‘Environmental Quality Management’
developed economies is in changes the kinds of skills that
editorial boards and is a former member
the service sector. you need within a firm. It
of the Secretary of Energy’s Advisory
changes the kind of education
Board and the Department of Environment So then you get to a second set
that you need to give your engi-
(DoE) Task Force on Alternative Futures for of questions. What is the inter-
neers. Over time, it also creates a
the DoE National Laboratories. Dr Allenby relationship between services
very different industrial structure
has authored a number of articles and and products? How will that
and we really haven't even begun
book chapters on industrial ecology and change over time? And how will
to think about those implica-
‘Design for Environment’; is co-editor of that feedback into manufactur-
tions, especially in business
‘The Greening of Industrial EcoSystems’, ing? Then you're looking at
schools.
(National Academy Press, 1994); medium- to long-term impacts.
co-author of ‘Industrial Ecology’ (Prentice- And that's where you'll see a far So I think over the medium- to
Hall, 1995), ‘Design for Environment’, more fundamental restructuring long-term, products as cultural
(Prentice-Hall, 1996), of economic activity. Look at and psychological objects are
and ‘Industrial Ecology and the personal computers (PCs), for going to become less emphasised
Automobile’ (Prentice Hall, 1997). example. In the short-term, and the provision of function

38 THE JOURNAL OF SUSTAINABLE PRODUCT DESIGN · JULY 1997


INTERVIEW

will become increasingly very difficult to imagine what sustainable consumption is that
significant. I think that those those shifts could lead to. But I it carries both an ideological and
who talk about the ‘functionality think it's fairly clear that the a material dimension. In the
economy’ really haven't picked pressures for those shifts are material dimension, it is very
up yet on how fundamental a going to be very significant. hard to change people's culture
change in industrial structure and their consumption pattern.
We all bring assumptions to
that is going to be. And that is So what that tells me is that in
the table which should be ques-
important because the countries the short-term there is a strong
tioned. Perhaps the best example
that are now excelling in the responsibility on manufacturers
of this is the work that is begin-
production of services – every- and on industry in general to
ning to be done on carbon
thing from financial to telecom- minimise the environmental
sequestration. If you combine
munications – are all developed impact of what they provide,
carbon sequestration with elec-
economies. Now if you shift while at the same time maintain-
tricity and hydrogen production
over in an environmentally ing the perceived 'quality of life'
and move to a hydrogen-based
constrained world to a more of their consumers. If you go
transportation system, you could
service/function-oriented econ- into a market economy and tell
change the fossil fuel industry
omy, then you're looking at the a consumer you're going to cut
from everybody's bad guy
possibility that the trend will what's available by 20%, it's just
(because of global climate
exacerbate the existing problem not going to work. In the longer-
change) to the system by which
of ‘the rich getting richer’. If term, I think what you're looking
you govern the amount of
material demands begin to at is the need to de-couple
carbon in the atmosphere over
decrease, for example, by design- ‘quality of life’ from material
decades and centuries. You can
ing products that are optimised consumption and I think you can
control it by using the ratio of
to last a long time and can be do that. This data is very sparse
biomass to fossil fuel as the
easily upgraded, rather than just but there is some available in the
input, and the ratio of carbon
simply thinking about selling US that indicates Americans’
sequestered to carbon released as
more, then developing countries 'quality of life' has not increased
the output. That kind of funda-
will be significantly impacted. since World War II, although per
mental shift is going to be very
capita material consumption has
In aggregate I think you can common in the medium- to
increased significantly. Now
make some fairly robust projec- long-term and it probably means
that's interesting because what it
tions. Look at long-term cost that we should be cautious in our
implies is that there is already a
trends. Cost trends for materials projections.
de-coupling of 'quality of life'
are fairly level, with ups and
If we project forward and start and material consumption. But
downs depending on the
to look at the whole scenario that de-coupling has yet to be
commodity. This also applies to
of sustainable consumption, expressed in reduced material
the cost trends for energy. Cost
both within the business- consumption, in part, because
trends on information and intel-
to-business and the business- people haven't been provided
lectual capital are all strongly
to-consumer context, do you with other alternatives with
down, so that begins to imply
feel that it will generate which to amuse themselves.
some fairly simple substitution of
greater opportunities for more That's where I think the ‘infor-
inputs. The difficulty comes when
resource- and energy-efficient mation revolution’ begins to
you think about specifics. In part,
products? Or do you view the look interesting. If you think
it's because we're so culturally
whole concept of sustainable about it, what the ‘information
bound to the patterns around
consumption as, say, produc- revolution’ is saying, in part, is
us: the patterns of material
ing and consuming fewer ‘we are going to provide infor-
consumption, the kinds of things
products? mation instead of materials to
that we consume, the way that
augment your “quality of life”,’
we define ourselves from our I don't think there's a clear
eg. 'surfing the internet,' digital
clothes to our automobiles. It is answer. The problem with

JULY 1997 · THE JOURNAL OF SUSTAINABLE PRODUCT DESIGN 39


INTERVIEW

Sustainability video, and digital audio. There


are a lot of products which begin
Again, I look at it in terms of
scale. DfE is the implementation
to make entertainment a lot of fairly broad principles of
is a matter of easier and a lot less resource industrial ecology in the short-
intensive. So I think, in the term and at a very localised level,
social choice longer-term, the perception of eg. a more environmentally-
the consumer’s 'quality of life' friendly way to clean circuit
or social free will actually start increasing, but boards, rather than designing
the 'environmental footprint' a sustainable computer. DfE is
will; there are required to provide a 'quality of
life' unit will decrease. I think
primarily an engineering concept
whereas when you move to the

many possible a big driver of that will be the


substitution of information
level of sustainable product
development, you have shifted

‘sustainable services for material goods. categories in a philosophical


sense.
That doesn't necessarily have to
worlds’ and, be just a hypothesis. The shift in There are two issues with
appeal of electronics and infor- sustainable products. One is
in the end, we mation access as compared to
automobiles for young people
an issue of systems. Unless the
product exists in a world that's

must choose over the last 10–15 years illus-


trates a really interesting kind
sustainable, it by itself cannot be
sustainable because sustainability
of evolution. Fifteen or twenty is a characteristic of the global
which one years ago, 'hot-rodder' teenage economy. You can only define
boys worked on their cars – it ‘sustainable’ by reference to the
we want. was the thing to do. Now with whole. The second issue is the
vastly more complicated cars and matter of social choice.
changing lifestyles, 'surfing the Sustainability is a matter of social
net' – even ‘hacking’ – are choice or social free will; there
becoming modern equivalents. are many possible ‘sustainable
And if you look at computer ads, worlds’ and, in the end, we must
they are beginning to sound a choose which one we want. I
little like the automobile ads, could easily propose a world
‘more horsepower,’ ‘faster,’ which is sustainable, which has
‘blow away the competition’. high levels of inequality and
That tells me that advertising maintains its sustainability by
people are beginning to under- varied mortality levels among the
stand that technology has a poor. Now that would not be a
chance of displacing a main world that any of us would want
cultural icon, the automobile. So, to live in, but it might be able to
we are seeing subtle sociological be maintained over some length
changes, without realising it. of time. So the issue of sustain-
The same gradual changes are able products begins to ask a
true in relation to environmental very serious question, which we,
awareness and attitudes. as a society, have yet to begin to
respond to appropriately. And
How do you differentiate
that is, what products do we
eco-design or ‘Design for
choose to have in terms of the
Environment’ from
world in which we live and
sustainable product design?
which we will pass on to our

40 THE JOURNAL OF SUSTAINABLE PRODUCT DESIGN · JULY 1997


INTERVIEW

children? DfE doesn't have those narily complex problem. I would still there, then you're ‘learning
overtones because DfE essen- view it as the job of industrial to talk’, but you're not yet
tially uses rules of thumb to ecology to figure out how to ‘learning to walk’. So one indica-
achieve increased environmental answer that question. In other tor of establishing an effective
efficiency in the short-term. words it would be nice, in an DfE system is whether or not it
ideal world, to have the knowl- has been driven into the opera-
Some of these issues involving
edge to say ‘Okay, if I use poly- tional side of the company.
values exist even now, of course
carbonate instead of ABS A second indicator is the number
– if you are low-cost sourcing
(acylonitrile butadiene styrene) of products which actually
your sub-assembly materials
for this application, the impact undergo that kind of process. It's
from Indonesia rather than
will be Y.’ We're nowhere near important to focus initially on
Sweden and the factory may in
that yet and, except at a very the process instead of the
fact actually have good environ-
high granularity, we may never answers themselves. One, unless
mental standards, but they use
be. But that is the kind of ques- you are actually working with a
child labour, but the child labour
tion I would see industrial ecol- complex product or technology
takes income back into the
ogy research beginning to ask – an automobile, a plane, a
family and enables four or five
and to develop answers for. computer, you're not likely to
of them to live… where do we
Those answers can then be know what the ‘trade offs’
all stand on this? I think to some
applied in DfE, or more broadly, involved really are. So for
extent we have not done
in the definition of a sustainable someone who is not working
ourselves a favour by overlook-
product. If you think about in electronics, it's a fairly easy
ing all of these extremely
sustainability as a characteristic proposition that you should
difficult and complex value ‘trade
of the global system, then the replace lead solder with bismuth
offs’. It’s easy enough for anyone
product itself does not need to or indium solder. But for some-
to say, ‘well, you know, what we
be sustainable as long as within body who's actually working
ought to do is design a product
the context of the system, it is within the technology, those
that uses less energy’. But there
sustainable. You may always have changes imply a set of manufac-
are always ‘trade offs,’ and right
unsustainable activities but that turing process changes, which
now we like to pretend they
may not be a problem as long as may, in fact, cause more envi-
don’t exist. But they do. And
the overall system is sustainable. ronmental problems, eg. the use
we can’t run away from them
of chlorinated solvent instead
forever. What do you consider to be
of aqueous cleaning systems,
the key steps that companies
How do you see DfE and for example. When you look at
should take when establishing
Sustainable Product Design it as a consumer of a product or
a DfE system?
(SPD) fitting into the context as a service company buying a
I think you begin by recognising
of industrial ecology? product, I think the most that
that the DfE process should not
I think they are a part of it. If you can do is to ask that your
be perceived as belonging to the
you look at industrial ecology as supplier uses the process rather
company's environment, health
the science of sustainability, than to actually ask for specific
and safety function. It should
then one of things it begins to endpoints because you don’t
belong to the R&D function, to
do is to develop the knowledge know enough to do that. That’s
the manufacturing engineering
and data that will allow us to their job, not yours.
function, to the product design
begin to define what DfE and SPD
function, and, to some extent, The other reason I think it’s
should look like. Take materials
to the marketing function valuable to look at DfE as a
for example, which are a rela-
because that's where you get process is because we don’t
tively easy problem. We really
your inputs. But it should not be know whether or not the things
don't know the environmental
placed in the traditional over- we are doing in the name of the
impact of various materials and
head organisation, because if it's environment are making the
applications. It is an extraordi-

JULY 1997 · THE JOURNAL OF SUSTAINABLE PRODUCT DESIGN 41


INTERVIEW

Two of the world better or worse. We don’t


have the data. That’s not to say
if you're building a complex
product, one of the things that
that what we’re doing is unim- increases the quality of the prod-
fundamental portant, because you have to uct and ease of manufacturabil-
practice, you have to learn ity, is 'Design for Simplicity.'
precepts for how to think about this. But, Two of the fundamental precepts
in absolute terms, it is probably for 'Design for Simplicity' are to
‘Design for difficult to say if we are doing reduce the number of parts and
things better or worse. Now to reduce the number of differ-
Simplicity’ are there are many exceptions. If
you can cut down your waste by
ent materials. In most designs,
that's about 70% of the way

to reduce the implementing good management


and housekeeping in your plant,
towards DfE. A lot of progress
could be made by understanding
that’s probably a victory for that, and then working with
number of parts everybody. But those are trivial ‘Design for Simplicity’ algorithms
cases. I think looking at DfE as to try to get DfE components
and to reduce a process is very important accepted, in a ‘technologically-
because if you focus too much driven’ firm. In a ‘financially-
the number on trying to get the best driven’ firm, an effective
outcome, it may lead to frustra- approach is to implement
of different tion rather than to incremental activity-based costing, and then
progress in implementing DfE to piggy-back green accounting.
materials. In across the firm. But it depends on being sophisti-
cated about grasping opportuni-
In the shift to products that fit
most designs, within a sustainable society,
ties and pushing levers within
your particular culture and your
do you think there is an
particular firm.
that’s about increasing requirement for
innovation and creativity? From a social viewpoint, I think
70% of the way And if so how do you feel that
should be stimulated within
one of the levers that has not
been used adequately is the

towards DfE. the firm? procurement lever. The problem


with a lot of people in procure-
In a way what you're asking is,
how do you stimulate culture ment is that they want to impose
change within a firm, and that is their idea of ‘environmentally-
always extremely difficult. preferable’ on some very
Business school gurus make complex technologies. And you
hundreds of thousands of dollars can't do that. You can't look at
by coming up with new theories an airplane and say ‘the best
every six months. The answer, I technology for that fighter plane
think, is you've just got to be is this kind of ceramic and
very sophisticated about where composites’. Because you don't
the levers are in your particular know what all the design ‘trade
firm and in your particular offs’ are. What you can do is
culture. If a firm is ‘technology- implement a requirement that
driven’ you can make a lot of winning firms have to use some
progress by looking at DfE as a kind of DfE process and they
sophisticated enhancement of have to document that process
your technology. For example, for the purchaser. Only a first

42 THE JOURNAL OF SUSTAINABLE PRODUCT DESIGN · JULY 1997


INTERVIEW

step, but it is that kind of thing


that generates significant culture
in the technological evolution?
There's no really robust theory
The technology
change within a firm. of it and I think part of it is that
the predominant economic to design an
There's an interesting dilemma
models tend to have a fairly
there. Small firms are generally
more innovative. On the other
static approach built into them. environmentally-
They don't always interpret and
hand, the scale and the scope of
most private firms are not equiv-
reflect technology in its practical friendlier car
sense. And I think that's a
alent to the scale and the scope
of their environmental impacts,
problem. We need to learn a lot
more about how technology
exists, or
so we have begun to expand the
control of the firms through, for
really diffuses in the economy.
For example, the technology to
could be
example, standards associated
design an environmentally-
with product ‘take back.’ When
friendlier car exists, or could be
relatively easily
you do that, you begin to ossify
relatively easily developed. What
technology. So you run into a
doesn’t exist is any relatively developed.
dilemma. On the one hand we
feasible way of implementing it
are saying that we need to have
rapid technological evolution; on
into a real economy. Because if What doesn’t
you did that, for example, you’d
the other hand we are saying we
need bigger industrial structures
begin to obsolete a lot of the exist is any
investments in the petroleum
to match the scale and the scope
of their environmental impacts,
sector and you'd never get away
with it. So we need to think
relatively
which slows down technological
change. I confess I don't have
about technological evolution
in its full context, not just the
feasible way
the answer to this problem.
product, but also the cultural,
The other issue which needs to economic and technological of implementing
matrix within which it is
be looked at more seriously is
the whole question of techno- embedded. Only by understand- it into a real
logical evolution. What are the ing that, can you realistically
real barriers, constraints, incen- identify opportunities for economy.
tives and processes involved improvement. •

JULY 1997 · THE JOURNAL OF SUSTAINABLE PRODUCT DESIGN 43


GALLERY

Solar Mower

Husqvarna, Sweden

Husqvarna, a subsidiary of Electrolux, cells, the mower starts at sunrise and recharge. An added benefit is that by
has developed the ‘Solar Mower’, which continues through to sunset, working shredding grass into small bits which
not only eliminates the need for fossil slowly, continuously and quietly. return nutrients to the soil, the machine
fuel in use, but also eliminates the need Napping neighbours won't be bothered reduces the need for fertilisers.
for the conventional human component by noise and the atmosphere won't
of lawn mowing – that is, no pushing have to absorb any greenhouse gases. However, at US$3000 the ‘Solar
and no riding is necessary – the mower The super-efficient machine requires a Mower’ is extremely unlikely to displace
works completely independently. 20 watt output, whereas traditional conventional mowers in the near future.
electric mowers require between But Husqvarna claim it is vigorously
The ‘Solar Mower’ is a radical departure 1000–1500 watts. An on-board investigating ways to use clean
from anything that looks like a tradi- computer functions as the 'brain.' technologies to develop a more afford-
tional lawn mower and, according to The mower can sense obstacles and able version of the product, as well as
Husqvarna, the designers found their manoeuvre around them. When the diversifying into other product areas.
inspiration in one of our earliest lawn mower encounters shady areas, it
trimming machines – the sheep. Text by Connie Backer, The Netherlands
calculates the capacity of its batteries
Powered by the sun using photovoltaic Design Institute, the Netherlands.
and returns to a sunny spot in time to

44 THE JOURNAL OF SUSTAINABLE PRODUCT DESIGN · JULY 1997


GALLERY

ThinkPad

IBM

The IBM ThinkPad range incorporates


a variety of environmentally conscious
features. Generic requirements are that
all materials used are capable of being
recycled, all plastic parts greater than
25gm are identified in accordance with
ISO 11469 and the IBM Corporate
Standard and are designed with snap-
fits for easy assembly/disassembly.
Specific features include the PC 700
models which are powered by lithium-
ion or nickel metal hydride batteries,
in preference to those containing lead
or cadnium, and the housing of the
730TE which is made of 100% recycled
magnesium alloy.

Teletangram

Nicole van Nes, Delft University, the Netherlands

A graduation project which builds on an innovative product


development initiative from Philips Sound & Vision, focusing
on minimising the environmental impacts of products by
considering extending their useful life. The Teletangram is a
product family, consisting of a mother module, an intelligent
telephone and several extension modules, such as an answering
machine and facsimile. By using ‘smartcards’ (PCMCIA) different
functions can be added and upgraded. This product’s flexibility
encourages the owner to keep the product longer because it can
adapt and alter with the users changing needs. This
prototype concept is used within Philips to show the
benefits and opportunities available by adopting
such a product development approach.

JULY 1997 · THE JOURNAL OF SUSTAINABLE PRODUCT DESIGN 45


GALLERY

Space and water saving toilet and washbasin combination

Huib van Glabeek, the Netherlands

This combined toilet and washbasin the wastewater from the washbasin to ‘contemporary’ form, which would have
product design was first conceived for flush the toilet. The wastewater is a classic, long-lasting appeal. Huib van
installation into social housing project stored in a reservoir housed in the duel Glabeek developed an elegant, durable
developments, where limited space is purpose basin stand/toilet cistern. 30% shape to meet this need. The product is
an important factor. The toilet is of the water consumed by a household also designed for ease of installation,
diagonally positioned to the washbasin, is used to flush the toilet. Furthermore, maintenance and repair.
creating a comfortable position for the the re-design of the conventional toilet
Photograph: Hans van der Mars/
toilet user and optimising space. This cistern mechanism was accompanied
Henk Visser
product also conserves water by using by an attempt to produce a more

46 THE JOURNAL OF SUSTAINABLE PRODUCT DESIGN · JULY 1997


GALLERY

Energy efficient bicycle and road signpost lighting

n|p|k industrial design, the Netherlands

The Royal Dutch Touring Club (ANWB) invited the design company
n|p|k to re-design the signposting system for bicycles and cars
that can be found at every crossroads in the Netherlands. The
design, created by designer Thomas Linders placed within the
design brief energy conservation as a key objective. By placing
the light source in a more central position the light was more
efficiently utilised. Previously the system used high power
continously, especially in inclement weather conditions, as neon
lights are less efficient at low temperatures. A sensor was thus
installed to give extra power in low temperatures. The above
design improvements resulted in 40% less energy being required
to operate the new signposting system.

Illustration: n|p|k industrial design, the Netherlands

Jute geotextile

Claudia van Riet, Delft University, the Netherlands

This graduation project was undertaken jute is a renewable resource with low land against wind and water erosion,
in Indian jute mills in Calcutta. The environmental impact during cultivation until new plants had taken root. The
manufacturer had the problem of a and is biodegradable. In addition, jute product slowly biodegraded with the
diminishing world market for the jute has various positive characteristics such moisture retained within the geotextile
products it produced, due to competition as moisture retention, high strength and assisting the feeding of the new plants.
from synthetic materials. Jute has an stiffness. On the basis of these charac- Furthermore, no toxic trace elements
old fashioned image associated with teristics a geotextile was developed, are left in the soil. The product is at
shopping bags and door mats. However, which would be used to protect fallow present being market tested.

JULY 1997 · THE JOURNAL OF SUSTAINABLE PRODUCT DESIGN 47


CASE HISTORY

Managing the eco-design process


Martin Charteri
Joint Coordinator, The Centre for Sustainable Design, UK

The article provides an overview and the complexity is illustrated materials volume and type,
of the key issues involved in the by eco-labelling. There are energy use, recycling and
management of eco-design. different eco-labels in different remanufacturing.
Planning and implementation issues countries for different products
Each firm has a different organi-
are addressed, with particular refer- eg. recycled paper, alongside
sational culture, and mix of busi-
ence to those involved in product more generic eco-labels for
nesses and products/services.
development and design. There is certain products. For example,
Therefore the ‘shape’ of the eco-
a focus on IBM’s and Electrolux’s in some organisations the US
design strategy and programme
approach to eco-design, particularly the Energy Star label has become
will need to reflect this and it
illustrating that corporate an accepted requirement in the
should be adaptable to different
approaches to eco-design differ purchasing of computers.
organisational approaches ie.
by product, market sector and
centralised versus decentralised
geographical region. Eco-design
Planning for eco-design decision-making. At present eco-
is in its early stages, and the
design is generally not integrated
business case will evolve as Eco-design or ‘Design for
into mainstream product devel-
drivers strengthen. Environment’ is a strategy that
opment and design, with the
aims to incorporate environmen-
environmental management
tal considerations into product
Drivers function tending to ‘own’ eco-
development and design,
design rather than research and
There are a range of pressures throughout the life cycle of a
development (R&D), design or
that are starting to focus business product or service. It is essential
marketing departments. The
on the environmental perfor- to have some organisational
approach to eco-design tends to
mance of products/services: commitment to environmental
reflect the firm's overall attitude
• customers (consumer, issues and a clear goal and busi-
to environmental management
intermediary and 'business ness case for eco-design before
ie. is the firm ‘compliance-
to business) a programme is developed and
driven’, ‘technically-focused’
• environmental regulations launched.
or ‘opportunity orientated’.
• product stewardship This should include a clear The extent of the commitment
• risk management understanding of the strategic, to reduce the environmental
• sustainable development tactical and operational implica- impact of products/ services
• eco-labelling tions of eco-design activities in will be indicated by:
relation to business and market- • environmental objectives
• voluntary standards eg.
ing plans. Key elements of the environmental policy
ISO14001 and Eco-management •
programme should include the
and audit scheme (EMAS) • level of accountability
links to the technology strategy
• shift to cleaner technologies • level of responsibility
and the development of an effec-
• competitive advantage • availability of training
tive organisational approach to
• increased profitability. make eco-design happen. • environmental performance
Technology considerations evaluation.
Drivers differ by product, market
include issues such as reducing
sector and geographical region

48 THE JOURNAL OF SUSTAINABLE PRODUCT DESIGN · JULY 1997


CASE HISTORY

Product development Another key element of success- There are a range of eco-design
ful eco-design is cross-functional strategies that can be employed
The management of eco-design is
working, learning from concur- relating to different stages in the
usually established as a specialist
rent engineering and Integrated life cycle of the product or
discipline or project, but ulti-
Product Development (IPD) service. The use of these
mately it should be integrated
approaches. approaches is dependent
into the mainstream product
on the organisational culture,
development process at each Internal barriers to eco-design do
product/market issues, and the
stage: exist, and need to be overcome
relative environmental impacts
• incubation to implement programmes
of products/services. There are a
successfully:
• concept review range of analysis methods avail-
• limited resources
• market assessment able to determine and understand
• poor communications
• development the environmental impacts of
• organisational inertia products/services, including:
• product launch
• individual inertia checklists; matrices; Life Cycle
• product management.
• lack of expertise Assessment (LCA); and,
It is important to address • hidden costs customised product-related
environmental issues early in • perceived costs environmental impact analyses.
the product development cycle,
• lack of time. An important element of eco-
to ensure problems and opportu-
design is to develop information
nities are determined before
systems to support both manage-
development and design Implementation ment and product designers.
decisions are made.
When planning and then imple- This should be in the form of a
For eco-design to progress it menting eco-design there are a structured systems incorporating
is essential that it becomes more range of key considerations: paper-based information,
strategic and moves beyond • analysis of strategic/tactical/ software, internet, online
the existing operational focus operational issues databases and expert advice.
ie. re-design of existing products, • establishing eco-design
for existing markets. objectives
Case histories:
A key success factor is the ability • developing appropriate
IBM and Electrolux
to sell eco-design into the differ- organisational structures
ent business functions involved A number of leading-edge
• undertaking training
in the product development companies are finding that the
• establishing information and
process. The key issue is to avoid implementation of eco-design
support systems.
‘hitting the green wall’ ie. eco- programmes is leading to innova-
design issues must be translated The development of quantified tive solutions and competitive
into the language and business objectives for eco-design is still advantage.
benefits for those involved in the in its early stages, and so there- IBM: environmentally
product development process: fore is measurement. However, conscious product
• marketing performance metrics are a useful development
• design mechanism to monitor the effec-
• IBM is a worldwide manu-
tiveness of eco-design. Metrics
• R&D facturer of advanced informa-
can be relative, absolute, source
• production tion technology, with sales
or impact-related. For example,
• quality of US$75.9 billion (1996) and
developing ratios that highlight
• finance a workforce of 225,000
energy usage, water usage and
• purchasing employees.
materials burden per product or
• In 1971, IBM established its
• environmental. product group.

JULY 1997 · THE JOURNAL OF SUSTAINABLE PRODUCT DESIGN 49


CASE HISTORY

corporate environmental policy utes, each supported by design forestry/garden products. The
(CEP). guidelines or targets. Each company employs 112,000 staff
• It has developed a worldwide attribute is scored using a worldwide and had a turnover
environmental management formulae based on: of SEK 110 million in 1996.
structure, with national focal – part-count ie. the percentage • In 1992, Electrolux developed
points. of parts in the product an environmental vision
• In 1990, the CEP was widened meeting specification statement. This incorporated
to acknowledge 'producer requirements a reference to product
responsibility', including the – character-count ie. percent- development:
development of ‘Environ- age of features used in the ‘We are going to meet our customer's
mentally Conscious Products’ design of products this is also expectations for safe, environmen-
(ECP). being used as a mechanism to tally-sound products, and we will
work with suppliers. actively distribute information aimed
• IBM see a range of benefits
from ECP. These include: • IBM has developed eco-design at stimulating demand for these
– tangible: lower costs approaches to the re-design of products.’
– intangible: good PR, more existing products and the devel- • The environmental strategy is
responsive to legislative opment of new products: a business strategy. It has lead
developments, etc. – re-design: PCs have a small to competitive advantage,
'window of opportunity' to market opportunities and
• Within the environmental
make eco-driven re-designs resource efficiency. In produc-
management structure, eco-
due to short development tion terms, it means cost
design expertise is focused in
timescales, compared to efficiency.
the Engineering Centre for
mainframes that require less The company has set a plan to
Environmentally Conscious •
frequent changes have all 150 factories accredited
Products (ECECP) in the US.
– new product design: the PEP to the international environ-
In each operating unit there is
is used throughout the mental management standard,
an ECP strategy owner, with
product development and ISO14001 by 2000. Additionally,
responsibility for developing
design cycle. European companies within the
eco-design targets. This
extends to all products. • IBM have faced three prime group may register for EMAS.
obstacles in progressing eco- There is a clear environmental
• IBM’s eco-design focus is •
design: management structure driven
on five key areas:
– economic: cost/benefit from the top. The Senior Vice
– materials reduction
justification of eco-design President for Environmental
– recycled content
– education: lack of awareness Affairs acts in an advisory
– plastics labelling
and understanding of capacity on environmental
– reduced energy consumption
environmental issues amongst strategy issues to the Group
– ease of disassembly.
the marketing function and CEO. Environmental Affairs
• The company uses three main
customers (EA) operational activities are
eco-design tools:
– technical: ‘trade off’ of real channelled through the house-
– Life cycle inventory (LCI)
and perceived costs; quality hold products Business Unit. To
– Product environmental
issues relating to recycled operationalise the environmen-
profile (PEP)
materials. tal policy within the group a
– Corporate Standard –
Environmentally Conscious Electrolux: the integration worldwide network of 70 coor-
Design. of environmentally-sound dinators has been developed,
technologies in product design positioned within each of the
• Eco-design performance
20 product lines.
measures are in the early stages • Electrolux are a major producer
of development. At present, the of household products, • Environment-related targets
method used examines attrib- commercial appliances and for products are set within each

50 THE JOURNAL OF SUSTAINABLE PRODUCT DESIGN · JULY 1997


CASE HISTORY

product line. Measurement catalytic converters of Conclusion


is the responsibility of chainsaws
There are growing range of
Environmental Affairs and – new product concepts eg.
drivers for eco-design, However,
a series of tools have been solar powered lawn mowers.
corporate eco-design pro-
developed, including: • The company has now
grammes are in their early stages
– assessment of environmental incorporated eco-design
of development. Success will
leadership of the product into an Integrated Product
depend on the firm having a
– assessment of profitability Development (IPD) process.
clear vision of what it wants to
of the product Tools have been developed
achieve, the degree of integra-
– annual improvement of to aid this process:
tion into mainstream product
product range – design guidelines
development, supplier partner-
– recycling properties of – eco-design checklists
ships, and the receptiveness of
products. – check points in the
the organisation to environ-
• Key issues include recognising development process.
mental opportunities.
and managing life cycle impacts • A key issue for the develop-
and 'adding value' through the There is a key need for senior
ment of eco-design and envi-
supply chain. Within each level commitment and motiva-
ronmental business strategies is
product line, Research and tion, as well as, well organised
differing levels of environmen-
Development (R&D) has a structures and systems to plan,
tal awareness and concern
key role to determine potential coordinate and implement
around the world. In addition,
and existing environmental eco-design, particularly within
the uncertainty surrounding
problems and generate new multi-product/multi-market
‘green’ legislative trends poses
solutions. based transnationals. There are a
problems in product design and
growing number of approaches
• Product line purchasing development.
to eco-design, particularly in the
departments are responsible for • A range of improvements has
electronics sector. A range of
assessing suppliers. From 1996, resulted from applying eco-
business benefits are starting to
supplier environment assess- design to the business areas:
emerge and examples are likely
ment has become a prerequisite – Household products
to grow as the eco-design
for all business areas. · significant improvements
evolves, and becomes more
• At the start of the product in the life cycle 'use' phase
accepted. •
development cycle, new · products well received in
product concepts are assessed more environmentally- Many of the issues discussed in this
against business and environ- aware markets article are more fully explored in
mental strategies before they – Commercial appliances 'Managing eco-design: a training
are progressed. · improvements in resource solution', recently produced by
• Electrolux perceive levels of efficiency The Centre for Sustainable Design.
eco-innovation: · development of
– continuous improvement competitive-edge
eg. higher energy efficiency – Forestry/gardening products
– new technologies eg. · improved ergonomics
· reduced emissions.

JULY 1997 · THE JOURNAL OF SUSTAINABLE PRODUCT DESIGN 51


INNOVATION

The sustainability cycle:


a new tool for product
development and design
Peter Jamesi
Director, Sustainable Business Centre, UK

The next green wave wave’ are growth in population


and living standards. Our planet
ike nature, environmental
L concern is cyclical. It rises
during economic booms, which
will have around 50% more
people within 40 years. And, for
the foreseeable future, most of
create impacts such as conges-
its people will want higher living
tion and increased pollution and
standards – equivalent to around
reduce worries about other
Peter James previously worked at 3% per annum real growth
issues such as unemployment.
Ashridge Management Centre, the according to most forecasts. This
And it falls during recession,
University of Stirling and the University means greater use of resources,
when impacts are less obvious
of Warwick business schools, UK. He more emissions and increased
and issues such as employment
was also Professor of Management at congestion (even allowing for
and crime become more promi-
Limerick University, UK. The Sustainable improvements in efficiency).
nent. However, each turn of ‘the
Business Centre is a UK based Whilst the precise environmental
cycle’ tends to leave concern –
organisation which provides research- consequences of this are hard to
and action in the form of legisla-
based information and advice on how judge – and easily exaggerated by
tion and other measures – at a
companies can become more zealous ‘greens’ – most scientists
higher level so that the impact
sustainable. Its main areas of work would accept that, in aggregate,
on business is constantly
are performance measurement, these trends will cause serious
increasing.
organisational change for sustainability, risks to human well-being and
environmental accounting and The last ‘green wave’ peaked natural systems and that more
incorporation of sustainability issues around the end of the 1980s and radical action is needed to
into research and product development. then fell away as recession hit ameliorate them.
He worked with Claude Fussler on the most Organisation of Economic
Leading environmental thinkers
book ‘Eco-innovation: driving Cooperation and Development
and a growing number of policy-
eco-efficiency’ (Pitman Publishing, (OECD) economies. Now,
makers and businesses believe
London, UK, 1996). He is recognised as increased growth rates – and
that meeting this challenge will
a leading consultant and researcher growing concern about issues
require a ‘factor four’ improve-
on sustainable business issues. such as global warming and
ment – ie. reducing the amounts
‘gender bending’ chemicals –
of resources needed and pollu-
are building another ‘green
tion generated to deliver goods
wave’ which is already effecting
and services to consumers by at
some businesses and will
least 300% over the next 20–30
increase as we move towards
years. Some – such as Germany’s
the millennium.
Wuppertal Institute – believe
The drivers of this next ‘green that this is just a medium-term

52 THE JOURNAL OF SUSTAINABLE PRODUCT DESIGN · JULY 1997


INNOVATION

target and that in the long-term processes which provide mental effect of products and
we will need a ‘factor ten’ customer and business value but how different elements of the
improvement. There is no significantly decrease environ- design contribute to this. Their
theoretical reason why these mental impacts. For example, main disadvantage is that they
can’t be achieved – and in some by working with pest controllers are ultimately dependent on
cases have already been. The to reconfigure delivery services, subjective weightings of different
environmental impacts of provid- Dow Elanco succeeded in reduc- environmental effects and that
ing a given amount of computing ing the amount of material these are not always transparent
power are a fraction of that needed to provide termite to users. Hence, they are particu-
required only a decade ago. protection to buildings by 99%. larly well suited to identifying
areas for attention and exploring
But targets such as this are
(rather than making) choices
certainly a challenge. Even more Evaluating product between different alternatives.
so when the other elements of
environmental impacts They are not at all helpful for
the sustainable development
SPD needs tools and techniques communication, as eco-points
agenda are taken into account –
to establish which products are are meaningless in themselves
such as meeting the basic needs
sustainable. One challenge is to and some customers and stake-
of the world’s poor and reducing
translate complex Life Cycle holders will challenge the
global inequalities.
Assessment (LCA) data into assumptions they rest upon.
Business responses to this chal-
simple concepts and criteria Eco-compass
lenge are increasingly based on
which can be used by product The eco-compass has been
the concept of eco-efficiency.
designers and developers. Two developed by Dow Chemical to
This has been developed by the
well-known product evaluation provide a simple, visual summary
World Business Council for
schemes which do this are ‘Eco- of life cycle analysis data. It is
Sustainable Development
points’ and the ‘Eco-compass’. based on the indicators of
(WBCSD), which represents lead-
Eco-points eco-efficiency developed by
ing multinationals and has been
WBCSD, with some minor
chaired by the CEO of BP and – A number of eco-points schemes
amendments. The eco-compass
the current incumbent – 3M. Its have been developed, of which
has six ‘poles’:
focus is to create more stake- the best known are those used by
holder and customer value with Volvo and Philips (now available • energy intensity
less environmental impact by: as a commercial package called • mass intensity
• increasing resource Eco-scan). They are similar in • environmental and health
productivity so that more that they cover all life cycle risk potential
is obtained from less energy stages – production, distribution, • sustainability of resource usage
and raw material inputs use and ‘end of life’. For each • extent of revalorization (reuse,
• creating new goods and stage, the user selects appropriate remanufacturing and recycling)
services which maintain or materials, processes, usage, and
• service intensity.
increase customer value but transportation details from the
options provided in the software. All of these are measured across
use fewer resources or create
The package then calculates an the entire life cycle.
less pollution.
‘eco-score’ for each of these The eco-compass provides a
Sustainable product design (SPD) elements, based on a number of holistic, visual, overview of
must meet both these objectives. points for a given quantity or products using dimensions which
Fussler with James (Fussler and usage. have been subject to consider-
James, 1996) have outlined the able discussion and development
The value of eco-points schemes
opportunities for this and by the international business
is that they can provide quick
stressed the need for ‘eco-inno- community. It is very useful in
analyses of the overall environ-
vation’, ie. new products and comparing and making choices

JULY 1997 · THE JOURNAL OF SUSTAINABLE PRODUCT DESIGN 53


INNOVATION

Social impacts
Social norms

duct attribute
Pr o s

Au
ton
l

o
pita

my
a

vironmental

and
an c

a l e n al im

comm
H um

ic t i c
Cri n ce s
a
Ene p
rgy
bst
ys

ac
su

unity
Ph

ts

Service intensity
Loop closure

azardous

Materials
wastes

Value
Non-h

Ha
za r
w a r do u s Wat
e
stes

ds
L if e

ne e
cha

sic
nc

Ba
es

Transport

Figure 1: The Sustainability Circle

between different products or reasonably complete LCA data clear transparency between –
product variants and, with some and also that scoring some of the both quantitative and qualitative
explanation, in communicating dimensions which have qualita- information. There is also a need
environmental effects to tive elements can be difficult. for what might be called ‘traffic
customers and other interested light’ assessments which present
parties. It can also – when used information in terms of a few
as part of a workshop process –
The Sustainability Circle states rather than in highly
generate ideas for attention in The implication of the previous complex forms or ones which
the product design and develop- discussion is that we need are summarised into a single
ment process. However, one environmental evaluation tools number (see Figure 1).
problem is that it requires which can encompass – but have

54 THE JOURNAL OF SUSTAINABLE PRODUCT DESIGN · JULY 1997


INNOVATION

We also need tools to take into wastes and environmentally provider of an entertainment
account the social dimensions critical substances such as chlo- service delivers films by wire
of sustainability, which neither roflurocarbons (CFCs) or carbon to final consumers rather than
eco-points or eco-compass do. dioxide (CO2). through cassettes.
This section presents such a One option within this layer is • use intensity – increased use
model, which synthesises and to use eco-points to provide an of a single product, and when
builds on the approaches aggregate measure of impacts. two or more people share use
discussed above, and particularly However, care must be taken of a single vehicle. This can be
those of WBCSD and Dow. It that issues not addressed in facilitated by introducing new
is structured into four rings, most eco-points schemes – such features, such as meters which
covering: as depletion of resources or monitor levels of individual
land-take – are not ignored. usage.
• customer value
• life extension – for example,
• physical environmental impacts Product attributes
by making artefacts more
• product attributes The third layer is the attributes of durable or using modular design
• social impacts. products which are major deter- so that key components can
minants of the physical environ- be replaced. This can facilitate
Each of the rings has a number of
mental impacts of the product leasing of products rather than
elements within it.
itself and/or society as a whole. their sale.
Customer value Although their effects will usually
• product augmentation –
Customer value is at the centre – although not inevitably – show
which involves addition of new
of the circle as it the central up in life cycle data, their impor-
features to facilitate a service.
aim of all product development. tance is such that they are worth
An example is installation of
Often environmental product considering in their own right.
on-board computerised
evaluation will take value Three broad kinds of product monitoring to vehicles to
creation as given and find ways of attributes can be identified: provide more data to providers
reducing the environmental • transport – the total use of of maintenance services.
impacts needed to deliver this transportation over the life • multi-functionality – so that
value. However, as Claude Fussler cycle they meet several different
and others have argued, there are needs simultaneously.
• revalorization or loop closure –
often opportunities to develop
the extent to which the prod- • product integration – products
new sources of customer value
uct can itself be recycled, meeting different functional
through eco-innovation
reused or remanufactured or needs can be integrated with
processes and it is important
can use recycled, reused or each other to optimise their
to consider opportunities to do
remanufactured inputs or environmental and, sometimes,
this when all the elements of
components functional performance. In the
the wheel are being considered.
• service intensity – the case of buildings, for example,
Physical environmental provision of additional service integration of heating, insula-
impacts to customers in ways which tion, ventilation and other
The second layer is that of potentially reduce environ- systems can reduce energy and
primary or physical environmen- mental impacts. materials consumption by
tal impacts – ie. those which can avoiding over-sized equipment
Service intensity is an all- or preventing conflict between
be quantified through the use of
embracing category and there them – as when heating
LCA techniques. Three of these
are in fact six significant ways systems roar into action
relate to inputs – energy, materi-
of achieving it, for example: because excessive ventilation
als and water – and three to
outputs – hazardous substances • product substitution – eg. is occurring.
and radiation, non-hazardous ‘video by wire’, in which a

JULY 1997 · THE JOURNAL OF SUSTAINABLE PRODUCT DESIGN 55


INNOVATION

However, none of these communities. Basic needs


measures automatically generate The people with the world’s
environmental improvement so Dealing with these and other
poorest life chances are the one
judgements need to be validated social issues at the design level is
billion plus who have inadequate
by some kind of LCA. Making difficult. There is often a lack of
food, shelter and other bare
vehicles last longer, for example, knowledge about social impacts,
necessities of life. Their situation
reduces the energy and material which will be complex and often
is so critical – and so central to
requirements needed to build occur only some time in the
successful sustainable develop-
replacements but also foregoes future. For this reason, quantified
ment – that it needs to be
the much lower levels of data may be difficult or impossi-
considered explicitly. The reality
emissions which new models ble to obtain. In addition, prod-
of product development – which
tend to have. ucts are designed for specific
is undertaken primarily in and
contexts and it may be inappro-
for richer countries – means that
Social impacts priate or futile to assess them
little can be said in many cases.
The fourth layer is attributes against universal criteria. In
However, at least gross problems
of the product which have many cases, assessment can only
can be identified and addressed
significant social impacts. The be about whether there are gross
and experience shows that
Brundtland Commission defined violations of the social condi-
innovative actions are sometimes
sustainable development as being tions for sustainability. Finally,
possible.
about social equity as well as the social arena contains many
environmental protection, on different points of view and Life chances
the grounds that the latter can’t there will be seldom be consen- Equality is one of the more
be achieved without the former. sus. This often means that there controversial aspects of sustain-
The detailed blueprint for achiev- is no single ‘right answer’ and able development. However, it is
ing it is Agenda 21, which came that the main objective is simply generally interpreted as focusing
out of the 1992 Rio Earth to recognise that there are differ- more on equality of opportunity
Summit. There’s still much ent points of view and to violate than of outcome and the
discussion about what exactly it as few as possible. creation of a situation where the
involves but its broad parameters poorer have greater ‘life chances’
are clear: Nevertheless, the centrality of – of employment, education etc.
• economic development will social issues to sustainable devel- The same argument also applies
continue but will have to be opment and public concerns – to other groups which some have
based on sustainable produc- and the risk of making serious felt are disadvantaged – such as
tion and consumption – which mistakes in the field – is such women and minorities. There
in turn requires new kinds of that they have to be addressed. will seldom be consensus about
goods and services Condensing these social consid- this but the key question is
erations into a few key issues is whether a product will accentu-
• a considerable reduction in
difficult but practical experience ate existing disparities of life
the environmental impacts
suggests that five elements cover chances and, if so, what is being
of human activity
most aspects: done to address it.
• a more equal world, with less
• basic needs
of a disparity between rich Social norms
and poor countries or men • life chances
New products or product-related
and women • social norms
actions can create emotional
• meeting the basic needs of the • human capital
reactions and acquire a ‘symbolic
quarter of the world’s popula- • autonomy and community. loading’ through providing a
tion who lack adequate food, tangible manifestation of broad
health care, clean water, As transport also has major social
trends or debates in society
sanitation and shelter implications, this element is also
which challenge or impinge upon
incorporated into level four.
• building strong local established or majority norms.

56 THE JOURNAL OF SUSTAINABLE PRODUCT DESIGN · JULY 1997


INNOVATION

Hence, the disposal of Brent Spar connections, telecommunica- impacts – would be expected
resulted in a debate not only tions could potentially under- to be green and, in some cases,
about the environmental impacts mine locally-based communities white. Hence, any ambers or still
of the platform itself but also and therefore has a Community more reds would be alarming.
about the ‘end of life’ of all oil Networks section to identify Another is that the Sustainability
facilities and the broader accept- ways in which this can be Circle allows for lack of consen-
ability of any kind of marine prevented. sus – such as over the elements
waste disposal. Advance consid- of level four, on social impacts –
eration of the ways in which to be taken into account by
products might challenge or
Scoring the elements giving them an amber colour.
change societal norms – particu- The purpose of evaluation is
larly those relevant to sustain- then to colour code each of the
ability – is therefore essential. elements, based on a modified
Conclusions
traffic light system. Five colours Environmental product
Human capital
can be used: evaluation is always a ‘trade off’
One controversial attribute
• white – to denote an absence between simplicity and complex-
of many new products and
of information but no indica- ity and all schemes therefore
processes is that they require
tions of serious sustainability have inherent limitations.
less human labour to operate
problems However, the Sustainability
than previous versions. Given
• red – to indicate serious Circle can at least draw attention
the central – and problematic –
sustainability problems to key trends and issues with
nature of employment in most
regard to both the environ-
societies this is socially negative. • amber – to denote question
mental and social side of sustain-
However, experience shows that marks, caused by lack of crucial
ability and provide a simple, but
the additional wealth created by data and/or conflicting inter-
effective, means of assessing
increased inefficiency creates pretations on questions which
them which takes many of the
employment elsewhere in the have environmental
strategic issues of sustainable
economy and also that in the significance
product design into account. It
medium-long term, new prod- • light green – some modest
can therefore complement more
ucts can create new forms of sustainability advantages
quantitative approaches such as
employment to exploit and • dark green – major sustain-
the ‘Eco-compass’ or ‘Eco-
maintain them. Hence, whilst ability advantages, compatible
points’. •
immediate labour effects are with ‘factor four’ rates of
important, the key indicator is improvement.
the overall effects of a product Footnote
on knowledge, skills and other Such a scoring scheme provides
This article is based on a longer
dimensions of human capital. clear and readily understandable
Sustainable Business Centre
distinctions even in the absence
Autonomy and community working paper entitled
of full quantitative data. In
There is a widespread belief that ‘Sustainable Product Evaluation’.
particular, it quickly differenti-
many modern products and ates products with major
technologies threaten individual problems or question marks
freedom and local community (large arrays of red and amber) –
(which are themselves not on which more work needs to be References
always in harmony). Hence, it is done – from those without
important to check the effects of Fussler C. and P. James, ‘Driving
them, ie. largely green in colour.
Eco-Innovation’ (London, UK:
products on this. At an aggregate
One point to note is that level Financial Times Pitman, 1996).
level, for example, BT recognises
two – physical environmental
that through national and global

JULY 1997 · THE JOURNAL OF SUSTAINABLE PRODUCT DESIGN 57


O2 NEWS

Special feature:
O2 Netherlands
Edited by Iris van de graaf de Keijseri
Co-founder of O2 Global Network and owner of KIVA
Product Ecology, the Netherlands

The Journal of Sustainable Product Eco-design update: news


Design has developed a partnership on eco-design projects
with the O2 Global Network to
from around the world
further disseminate information
and ideas on eco-design and Environmental product
sustainable product design. O2 development at Delft
Global Network is an international University
network of ecological designers. In September 1992 the Faculty of
The O2 Global Network is organised Industrial Design Engineering at
into national O2 groups which work Delft University of Technology,
together to provide various services the Netherlands, created a
such as: O2 Broadcasts, which department of Environmental
report live from O2 events using Product Development (EPD).
email and the Worldwide Web EPD now includes twelve
(WWW); O2 Text meetings, a people working on education
meeting place on the Web; the O2 and research to stimulate and
WWW pages, which provides an enhance environmental
overview of activities; O2 Gallery, awareness in industrial product
an exhibition of eco-products on development. The EPD's major
the Web; and, an O2 mailing list. research areas are environmental
design and product management;
For further information on the
environmental load and use of
above activities and the O2
consumer products; the develop-
Global Network contact:
ment of systems and tools for
O2 Global Network
re-use, re-manufacture and
Tourslaan 39
recycling.
5627 KW Eindhoven
The Netherlands For further information contact:
email: O2global@knoware.nl Linda Roos
tel/fax: +31 40 2428 483 & +31 15 278 2738
internet: http:www.wmin.ac.uk/ email: L.Roos@TUDelft.NL
media/O2/O2_Home.html internet: http//www.io.tudelft.
nl/research/mpo/index.html
‘O2 News’ will update readers of
the Journal on the latest eco-design UNEP Working Group
issues from around the world and on Sustainable Product
on O2’s national activities. In Development (UNEP-WG-SPD)
this issue O2’s activities in the UNEP-WG-SPD operates within
Netherlands are highlighted. the framework of the United

58 THE JOURNAL OF SUSTAINABLE PRODUCT DESIGN · JULY 1997


O2 NEWS

Nations Environmental SMI Distribution Services Ltd


Programme (UNEP). Its goal is PO Box 119
to develop and implement the Stevenage
concept of Sustainable Product Hertfordshire SGI 4TP
Development worldwide with fax: +44 1438 748844
special attention to developing email: anthony@SMIBooks.Com
countries. The centre has organ-
Life cycle assessment
ised workshops, brokerage
(LCA) tools
meetings, set up international
Four new LCA tools have
co-operation and produced vari-
recently been launched, which
ous publications. The network
provide quick and efficient
has more than 600 contacts in
guidance on how to calculate
55 countries.
environmental impacts:
For further information
• Ecoscan 1.0 calculates impacts
contact Hans van Weenan
and costs.
& +31 20 525 6268
Prices: between DFL 845,-
email: unep@unep.frw.uva.nl
and DFL 995,-
internet: http://unep.frw.uva.nl
Contact: Turtle Bay
PROMISE manual: 'Ecodesign; & +31 10 165 1178
a promising approach to
• ECO-it 1.0 calculates environ-
sustainable production and
mental impacts based on the
consumption'
Eco-indicator 95 method, a one
The original Dutch ‘Eco-design score rating system for prod-
manual’ has been revised and ucts, materials and processes.
translated into English. The Introduction price: DFL 360,-
manual gives a practical seven- Contact: Pre Consultants
phase method to conduct eco- & +31 33 455 502222
design. Furthermore, it includes
• DfE helps designers to
information on eco-design
construct for 'end of life'
strategies, optimisation of 'end
scenarios.
of life' systems, Life Cycle
Price: given on request
Assessment (LCA) and, life cycle
Contact: TNO industry
costing methods, green market-
& +31 15 260 8806
ing, environmental problem
description, environmental poli- • EcoOffice helps environmental
cies, information providers and coordinators calculate environ-
literature references. The manual mental impacts of office
is illustrated with international equipment, electricity, paper
eco-design examples and is usage, transportation and
published by UNEP. The cost of other office issues.
the manual is US$150 (ISBN 92- Price: DFL 500,-
807-1631-X) and can be ordered & +31 24 360 6600
from:

JULY 1997 · THE JOURNAL OF SUSTAINABLE PRODUCT DESIGN 59


O2 NEWS

Dutch government product design and development; lectures and workshops are held
programme 'Economy, clean technology; reuse monthly on subjects ranging
Ecology and Technology' (ETT) or application of waste; environ- from 'Utopia and the environ-
The ETT programme aims to mental management systems in ment' and 'Sustainable design
encourage technological innova- companies; and, partnerships in and the third world' to 'New
tions while still fulfilling the sustainable development. regulations on packaging' and
following economic, ecological For further information contact: 'LCA tools'. O2 Company, a
and technological objectives Petra de Boer section within O2 Netherlands,
of reducing industrial wastes, t& +31 70 3837705. organises in-house company
wastewater, emissions and meetings to stimulate the
White paper on 'Environment
energy from traffic systems; the involvement of designers. The
and Economy', the Dutch
integration of environmental O2 Expert Working Group invites
Ministry of Environment,
considerations into the product O2 members, relevant specialists
June 1997
development process; the use and policy-makers to develop
In this White paper the Dutch
of renewable and sustainable and discuss new ideas on the
Ministry of Environment focuses
energy. The call for proposals topic of sustainable design and
on technological development,
is open until Autumn 1997. related concepts. For example,
balancing both environmental
Financial support is being at a monthly meeting in May
issues and economic profits. The
provided by the Dutch govern- 1997 three O2 members
paper will be followed by the
ment. presented various eco-design,
third National Environmental
For further information contact: R&D and design projects: a wind-
Policy Plan (NEPP) from the
Mrs Smulders, ETT programme office up toothbrush; innovative uses
Dutch Government.
& +31 30 239 3683 for thermoplastic wood; and, an
Price: DFL 20,-
energy efficient crossroads sign-
Environment Awards for Code number: 14532/176
posting system (see Gallery
Industry 1997 & 1998 (Dutch language)
section). Finally, O2 Magazine
Until 31 August 1997 European 22566/210 (English language
appears three times a year (only
companies can apply for the summary)
in Dutch) with articles which
National Environment Award for For further information contact:
include technical information on
Industry 1997. This award scheme Distribution Centre
environmental aspects of materi-
has individual awards for each & +31 70 344 9449
als, as well as product examples
European Union country. The and commentaries.
national award winners can then
O2 Focus: The Netherlands For further information contact:
be nominated for the European
Diana de Graaf, member of the Board, O2 Global Network
Better Award for Industry 1998,
O2 Netherlands PO Box 519
which will be presented June
3000 AM Rotterdam
1998, in Leeuwarden, The Inspired by other European O2
The Netherlands
Netherlands. The European groups O2 Netherlands was
& +31 10 411 8102
Award is organised by the founded in 1993. O2 Netherlands
fax: +31 10 4049495.
European Commission's environ- has over 150 members and is
ment programme. The following continuing to grow. Evening
categories are covered: ecological

60 THE JOURNAL OF SUSTAINABLE PRODUCT DESIGN · JULY 1997


REVIEWS

Books
Green Design his attractive book is a revised version of a 1991 edition, and
Design for the Environment T clearly shows that the design world has changed immeasurably in
that short time. There can be few major manufacturers who do not
(second edition)
Dorothy Mackenzie now recognise their need to improve the environmental performance
Laurence King, UK 1997 of their wares, even if they are not (yet!) bound by regulations requir-
ISBN 1-85669-096-2 ing it. Major corporations are competing with one another to out-
176 pages green their rivals with resource-efficient, environmentally sensitive
Price: £19.95 buildings and target-setting corporate environmental reports.
To support this ‘green’ trend a new breed of designers is needed. They
must have an understanding of the impacts of their work, and know
how to address the issues raised. They must be able to defend their
decisions on raw materials, energy consumption, durability and
disposal. Design is no longer simply a way to improve product appear-
ance and performance: now designers must care for the environment
as well.
After the book’s introductory chapter on the role and responsibility
of the designer, a scene-setting chapter provides the background to
environmental issues. In just thirteen pages, the author has attempted
to summarise some of the most difficult facets of the designer’s
decisions vis-a-vis the environment. There are inherent conflicts
between, for example, designing to minimise resource use and design
for recycling. If environmental protection is to be the driving force,
it is short-sighted to pander to a public’s espousal of recycling
(despite the fact that many never actually recycle) in product design
without assessing whether that confers greater benefit than using less
materials, even though the chosen materials may not ultimately be
recyclable. Balancing such conflicts can be simplified – if not resolved
– by the cradle-to-grave, or life cycle approach, which is briefly
described.
The book is then divided into five sections which cover architecture
and interior design; product design; packaging; print and graphic
design; and textiles. Each of the five sections ends with a selection
of case studies derived from all over the world, offering practical
real-life examples of good design saving resources and reducing
environmental impact.
Rather than taking the high moral ground, this excellent book adopts
a pragmatic and businesslike approach as the following quote demon-
strates:
‘There is little point in producing environmentally sensitive solutions
if they are too expensive, inconvenient or unattractive for any one to
want to buy and use them. There is no reason why designing for
minimal environmental impacts should produce drab, poor-quality
results which give satisfaction only through guilt reduction.’

JULY 1997 · THE JOURNAL OF SUSTAINABLE PRODUCT DESIGN 61


REVIEWS

An invaluable starting point for young or aspiring designers, the book


will equally inspire many established designers, while anyone who
commissions design would have a better understanding of the breadth
of the designer’s role having read it. Nor should owners of the first
edition be deterred from purchasing this one, as the text has been
extensively revised and updated and there are a number of new case
studies.
Maggie Thurgood is a freelance writer and editor specialising in environmental
issues. She is a consultant to the World Health Organisation and a member of the
International Energy Agency’s Integrated Solid Waste Management Group, UK.

A Manager’s Introduction alled ‘A Manager’s Introduction to Product Design and the


to Product Design
and the Environment
C Environment’ and authored by a University of Surrey team
(including the Professor Roland Clift) this concise seventeen pager,
Larissa Barrett and Edwin published by The Environment Council encourages designers and
Datsenefski (eds.) developers to think using the generally accepted Life Cycle
The Environment Council & Centre Assessment (LCA) approach (which considers the environmental
for Environmental Strategy/ impacts of products, materials and services, from raw materials
The Environment Council, UK, 1997 extraction through manufacture and use to final disposal).
ISBN 0 903158, 77 9
The team of authors call this approach ‘Design for Environment’ or
17 pages, £20.00
‘DfE’ for short.
DfE aims to show that paying attention to the environmental dimen-
sion, during the design of products and services, can help companies
improve resource management, increase productivity, enhance envi-
ronmental performance and still win competitive advantage.
The publication’s contents are focused under five principal headings:
• Design for Environment (DfE)
• DfE in action
• Strategies for DfE
• Implementing DfE
• Integrating DfE into the business.

Under the first heading the authors thankfully avoid the common
environmentalist’s mistake of believing that designing a greener
product means that the world will beat a path to its creator’s door.
Instead they correctly focus on satisfying consumer needs, but
challenge develops to meet these with less environmental cost.
‘DfE in action’ stresses that environmental protection (I would have
preferred to call this environmental quality) does not have to cost
money but often delivers real business benefit. A number of product
and service related examples are given of how companies have
reduced materials use, substituted better materials, improved recycla-
bility, functionality and manufacturing processes – often with multi-
million pound savings.

62 THE JOURNAL OF SUSTAINABLE PRODUCT DESIGN · JULY 1997


REVIEWS

‘Strategies’ discusses how DfE can help extend product or material


life, reduce material use, improve energy efficiency, minimise pollu-
tion and maintain ecosystems. As these are often key to the
consumer in making value judgements, this focus is consistent with
better meeting needs.
‘Implementing DfE’ looks at the design process, product strategy,
development and specification and describes a number of analytical
and environmental management tools (with emphasis on the
Materials, Energy and Toxic Emissions matrix) which can be brought
to bear, particularly at the design stage.
Finally, while ‘Integrating’ suggests that life cycle thinking can be
successfully brought into corporate strategy it realistically acknowl-
edges that value judgements will also need be taken to balance
environmental wants against commercial objectives.
The Environment Council sees the DfE approach as an important
first step in widening the appeal of its major reference resource
‘The Business and the Environment Programme’ handbook and say
feedback on the publication has been excellent. I agree. As the
environmental agenda progresses, the need for key managers to
be environmentally literate and responsible grows steadily.
Mild criticism of DfE is that it is perhaps too laid back in its approach;
perhaps failing to suggest sufficient confrontation. Let me explain.
Designers and developers have a difficult job in trying to satisfy
consumer needs while meeting client marketing, manufacturing,
financial and timing pressures – and can push environmental consid-
erations to one side, unless they are forcefully positioned.
Persuasion is sometimes not enough and the development paradigm
may need be energetically challenged through questions like ‘Can
we design 1 million tonnes of waste out of our manufacturing
processes?, ‘What would it mean to our competitive positioning if
we used 90% less of the packaging per sales unit compared to major
competition?’, ‘Could we get the consumer to more readily accept
this design change if we explained its environmental benefits?’ or
even ‘Will this meet regulatory and consumer needs towards the
end of the product’s marketing life?’
Companies face two choices, ‘business as usual’ or embrace
innovation and entrepreneurship to outsmart competition. DfE is
certainly not ‘business as usual’.
Paul Rutherford, Environmental Quality Manager, Proctor & Gamble Technical
Centres Ltd., UK.

JULY 1997 · THE JOURNAL OF SUSTAINABLE PRODUCT DESIGN 63


DIARY OF EVENTS

Managing eco-design online 24–27 August 1997 10–16 September 1997


conference, Textiles, design and The Humane Village – ENVASE ’97 – 5th international
environment online conference, 20th Congress of the ECSID packaging exhibition
Sustainable Product Design online Toronto, Canada Buenos Aires, Argentina
conference
‰ Design Exchange & +54 1957 0350/0940/2576
‰ The Centre for Sustainable Design Humane Village Congress Secretariat fax +54 1 9561368
The Surrey Institute of Art & Design PO Box 18
Falkner Road 234 Bay Street 18–19 September 1997
Farnham Toronto Dominion Centre Business strategy & the
Surrey GU9 7DS Toronto environment conference
UK Ontario M5K 1B2 Leeds, UK
& +44 (0)1252 732229 Canada
fax +44 (0)1252 732274 & +1 416 216 2124
‰ Elaine White
email: cfsd@surrart.ac.uk ERP Environment
fax +1 416 368 0684
PO Box 75, Shipley
6-8 August 1997 West Yorkshire BD17 6EZ
25–29 August 1997
UK
Green engineering for a difference Course on cleaner production and & +44 (0) 1274 530408
Pennsylvania, US sustainable product development fax +44 (0) 1274 530409
‰ Akhelsh Lakhtakia Amsterdam, The Netherlands
The Pennsylvania State University ‰ The Amsterdam-Maastricht 18–21 September 1997
227 Hammond Building Summer University ECOTECH II conference
University Park PO Box 53066 California, US
PA 16802-1401 1007 RB Amsterdam
US The Netherlands
‰ Janice Whitacre
& +1 814 863-4319 email: jwhitacre@acotech.org
& 31 20 620 0225
fax +1 814 863 7967 fax 31 20 624 9368
email: ax14@psu.edu 23–26 September
e-mail: asu@gn.apc.org
ECOMEX ’97/Enviro pro
13 August 1997 28 August 1997 expo – international trade
The 1997 packaging waste fair for environmental
Results of the O2 expert
regulations: what must companies technology & recycling
working group
do and how can they do it Mexico City, Mexico
Rotterdam, The Netherlands
Oakham, UK & +49) 89 5107 196
‰ O2 Netherlands fax +49) 89 5107 341
‰ Jackie Epps PO Box 519 email: info@messe-muenchen.de
Commerical Seminars 3000 AM Rotterdam
The White House The Netherlands 25 September 1997
17 Burley Road & +31 10411 8102
Oakham Graphic design & environment
fax +31 1040 9495
Rutland LE15 6DH Rotterdam, The Netherlands
UK September 1997 ‰ O2 Netherlands
& +44 (0) 1572 757751 PO Box 519
Environmental polices in Europe:
fax +44 (0) 1572 757752 3000 AM Rotterdam
towards sustainability?
The Netherlands
Manchester, UK
19–21 August 1997 & +31 10411 8102
‰ Elaine White fax +31 10404 9495
11th ICED – International ERP Environment
conference on engineering design PO Box 75, Shipley 29 September – 3 October 1997
Tampere, Finland West Yorkshire BD17 6EZ
ISWA ’97 Conference – towards
‰ Tampere University of Technology UK
sustainability: opportunities &
PO Box 300 & +44 (0)1274 530408
challenges
FIN 3T101 fax +44 (0) 1274 530409
Wellington, New Zealand
Finland
& +358 3 365 2441 & +64 4 801 3751
fax +358 3 65 2164 fax +64 4 801 3003
email: iced.info@ruuvi.me.tut.fi e-mail: auty_v@wcc.govt.nz

64 THE JOURNAL OF SUSTAINABLE PRODUCT DESIGN · JULY 1997


DIARY OF EVENTS

14–16 October 1997 31 October 1997


Partnerships in power for the next Managing eco-design:
millenium – Asia-Pacific initiative 2nd International conference
conference & exhibition for renew- London, UK
able energy & energy efficiency ‰ Martin Charter
Jakarta, Indonesia The Centre for Sustainable Design
& +852 2574 9133 The Surrey Institute of Art & Design
fax +852 2574 1997 Falkner Road
e-mail: office@adal.comm Farnham
Surrey GU9 7DS
15–17 October 1997 UK
& +44 (0)1252 732229
Design for the environment short
fax +44 (0)1252 732274
course ‘managing change in
email: cfsd@surrart.ac.uk
product development’
Guildford, UK
27 November 1997
‰ S Hodgson
Wave of factors: reduction
Centre for Environmental Strategy
factors for sustainability
University of Surrey
Rotterdam, The Netherlands
Guildford GU2 5XK
UK ‰ O2 Netherlands
& +44 (0) 1483 259047/ 259043 PO Box 519
fax +44 (0) 483 259521/ 259394 3000 AM Rotterdam
email: s.hodgson@surrey.ac.uk The Netherlands
& +31 10411 8102
19–29 October 1997 fax +31 10404 9495
Cleaner production international
27 November 1997 and March 1998
workshop on approach, methodology
& practice What will new packaging legislation
Cali, Colombia, South America mean to your business: packaging
waste alert seminars
‰ Professor Guspavo Bolanos Surrey, UK
Department of Chemical Processes
Bel Valle Universitab ‰ Jackie Warton
P.O. Box 25 C60 Training Group
Cali, Colombia, South America Pira International
& +57 2339 1235 Randalls Road
fax +57 2339 2335 Leatherhead
e-mail: cleaprod@mafalda.univalle.edu.co Surrey KT22 7RU
UK
30 October 1997 & +44 (0) 1372 802047
fax +44 (0) 1372 802243
Products & environmental
email: training-service@pira.co.uk
management systems
Rotterdam, The Netherlands
5–8 December 1997
‰ O2 Netherlands
The Design and Environment
PO Box 519
Conference
3000 AM Rotterdam
Canberra, Australia
The Netherlands
& +31 10 411 8102
‰ Catalyst ’97 Conference
University of Canberra
fax +31 10 404 9495
PO Box 1
Belconnen ACT
2616
Australia
& +61 6 201 5754/61 6+ 201 2178
fax +61 6 201 2279/61 6+ 201 5034
email: cat97@design.canberra.edu.au.

JULY 1997 · THE JOURNAL OF SUSTAINABLE PRODUCT DESIGN 65


NOTES

Contributor guidelines
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Design is targeted at Environmental abstract of up to 150 words summaris- All graphs, diagrams and other drawings
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Authors should minimise the amount of
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drawings, and should refer to curves,
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grids should not be used in graphs,
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Articles submitted to the Analysis date), pp.xx–xx. or This allows The Centre for Sustainable
section (peer reviewed) should be Author, A., and B. Author, ‘Title of Design to sanction reprints and photo-
between 2,500–5,000 words. Shorter Journal Article: Subtitle’, in Journal, copies and to authorise the reprint of
articles of 1,000–1,500 words are also Vol.x No. x (January 19xx), pp. xx–xx. complete issues or volumes according
requested for for the Case Study and to demand. Authors traditional rights
Innovation sections. Manuscripts should These should be listed, alphabetically
will not be jeopardised by assigning
be typed in journal style, double spaced by author surname, at the end of the
copyright in the manner, as they will
(including footnotes and references) article.
retain the right to re-use.
with wide margins, on one side only If referring to works in the main body of
of good quality A4-size paper. the article, please use the ‘short title’ Proofs
Manuscripts should be arranged in the method in parentheses.
Authors are responsible for ensuring
following order of presentation. Footnotes: These should be numbered that all manuscripts (whether
First sheet: Title, subtitle (if any), consecutively in Arabic numerals and original or revised) are accurately typed
author’s name, affiliation, full postal placed before the list of bibliographical before final submission. One set of
address and telephone, fax number references. They should be indicated in proofs will be sent to authors before
and email. Respective affiliations and the text by use of parentheses, eg. publication, which should be returned
addresses of co-authors should be ‘(see Note 1)’. promptly (by Express Air Mail if outside
clearly indicated. Please also include UK).
approximately 100 words of biographi-
cal information on all authors. Copy deadlines
Issue 3: 12 September 1997
Issue 4: 12 December 1997.
Issue 5: 13 March 1998

66 THE JOURNAL OF SUSTAINABLE PRODUCT DESIGN · JULY 1997