Design for Sustainability


Design for Sustainability
“Designing to improve the quality of life today, without compromising the quality of life of tomorrow”


Importance of “Design for Sustainability”
Design for Sustainability aims: “to take all global and regional socio-economic concerns into account in products and services, meeting the needs of society now and in the future, moving from a product to a service oriented system.” • In order to design sustainable products and services, innovation, creativity and new ideas are required by designers.

Importance of “Design for Sustainability”
On a global scale current design of products are seen to hinder Sustainability. Designers ironically increasing focus on disposables. e.g. razors, nappies, pens, packaging. 4 R’s regarding design for sustainability: Repair Refine Redesign Rethink Movement towards rethinking situations and function radically changing towards achieving needs through different means.

Repair -> Rethink
Sustainability Benefits

Adapted from: [Thompson and Sherwin, 2001]

Using Recycled Materials
Using recycled materials instead of virgin materials significantly reduces the environmental impact of a product. Guidelines for designing with recycled plastics: • Specify thicker walls or features that enhance rigidity in a design where increased strength must compensate for reduced strength in material. • Select applications where color is not critical when recycled plastics come with a variety of colorants. Additional colorants may mask the original color of the material.

Design for Recyclability
Product design can make a significant contribution to recyclability. Use materials which can be easily recycled. • Reduce the quantity of different types of materials. • Select materials that are in mutually compatible groups, e.g. for plastics – ABS, PET or PVC • To aid recycling, avoid materials which are difficult to separate such as laminates, fire-retardants and fiberglass reinforcements. • Avoid polluting elements such as stickers that interfere with recycling, or glues.

Design for Disassembly
“To ensure easy accessibility for inspection, cleaning, repair and replacement of vulnerable/sensitive subassemblies or parts.” • Use fasteners such as snap, screws/‘smart screws’ or bayonet, instead of welded, glued or soldered connections. • Position joints so that the product does not need to be turned or moved for dismantling. • Indicate on the product how it should be opened nondestructively, e.g., where and how to apply leverage 8 with a screwdriver to open snap connections.

Design for Light-weight
• This strategy focuses on optimising the volume and weight of materials so less energy is used during production, transport and storage. • Products are often deliberately designed to be heavy or large in order to project a quality image. For Example: • Use reinforcing ribs instead of using thick-walled components. • Reduce the volume in transportation: Consider foldable or stackable designs and final product assembly at the retail location or by the end-user.

Design for Less & Reduction of Consumables
• Application of design that will lead to lower, or more efficient use of consumables such as water, oil, filters, cleaners during a product’s life span. • Design the product to minimize the use of auxiliary materials, e.g., use a permanent filter in coffee makers instead of paper filters. • Minimize possible leaks from machines that use high volumes of consumables by, for example, installing a leak detector.

Re-manufacture & Re-furbishing Considerations
• Design a modular product structure so that each module can be detached and re-manufactured in the most suitable way. • Design parts/components to facilitate ease of cleaning/repair and retrofitting prior to re-use. • Indicate parts/components that must be lubricated or maintained in a specific way through color coding or integral labels. • Consider the tooling requirements for remanufacturing in the physical design of parts/components.

Life Cycle Assessment


What is LCA
• It is a technique used for the evaluation of the environmental/ecological impact during all the stages of a products life. • It involves: – Design and functionality of the Product – The extraction and processing of materials – The processes used in manufacturing – Packaging and distribution – How the product is used – Recycling, reuse and disposal

Where & Why is LCA used?
• • • • Designers use LCA in the development stages Used by manufacturers at production stage Used to re-design/ re-engineer existing products Used in the comparative analysis of products – – – – – Reduce costs throughout a life-cycle Improve efficiency Reduce environmental impact Compliance with environmental legislation Product Marketing (eco-labelling)

Energy/Eco Labels examples
Washing Machine

The Flower is the symbol of the European Eco-label, and is a guide to greener products and services.

Relationship of Activities
Energy (total LC) Wastes (material,

Activities (Product design, manufacture and use)
Raw materials

emissions etc.)


Stages in PLC
Block diagram of PLC activities
Energy Chain Supply Raw materials

Product Design Materials production

Product manufacture

Product in use

Product end of life





Scope of a LCA

From –


Stages of a LCA
• Identify and Quantify the environmental loads (energy and raw materials used, and emissions and wastes consequently released). • Assess and evaluate their potential impacts. • Assess the opportunities available to bring about improvements.

Elements in a LCA
Goal & Scope Definition

Inventory Analysis


Impact Assessment

LCA Elements Explained
Purpose & System Boundaries Goal & Scope Definition What Product is the LCA going to deal with? Single Product or Product Comparison? Any impinging criteria e.g. Quality Concerns? Energy & Materials (inputs) Waste & Emissions (outputs) A listing of the quantities of all the above areas over the entire life-cycle, from cradle to grave.

Inventory Analysis

LCA Elements Explained
Classification, Characterisation & Valuation Impact Assessment What is the significance of potential environmental impacts? An iterative process of reviewing goals and scope determining if objectives are been met. Conclusions & Recommendations Interpretation What is the significance of potential environmental impacts? Must be consistent with the goal of the study.

Key environmental considerations
• Use less material • Use materials with less environmental impact • Use fewer resources • Produce less pollution and waste • Reduce the impacts of distribution • Optimise functionality and service life • Make re-use and recycling easier • Reduce the environmental impact of disposal


Examine the materials used in the product
• Create a list of all the materials used • Look at the environmental impacts of these materials • Identify alternatives
- use fewer materials - only use materials that can be recycled - use materials containing recyclates - obtain from more sustainable sources - talk to suppliers/customers


How is the product manufactured?
• Is the process energy intensive? • Does it produce a lot of waste? • Are natural resources (eg water and fossil fuels) used? • Can resource use be reduced?


How is the product distributed?
• What type of packaging is used? • Could less packaging be used? • Could re-usable packaging be used? • How is the product stored before dispatch? • How far are the products transported?


How is the product used?
• Talk to consumers to find out if they have developed ‘product habits’ • Do customers feel that any components or functions are unnecessary?


What happens at the end of the product’s life?
Does the product typically go to landfill? • Could the recycling potential be increased? - material selection - stamping and labelling • Can modules or parts be re-used? • Service potential


Talk to your suppliers and customers
• Are they aware of cleaner design? • Ask them to join the design team - helps to maintain business relationships - can share information/benefits • Can they suggest alternatives/ideas?


Life Cycle of a Light Bulb
Packaging Energy Energy Glass Plastic Available World Resources Extraction Exploration Production Processing Electronics Aluminimum Copper/ Brass Steel Mercury Phospors Emissions & Waste Other Emissions & Waste Emissions & Waste Emissions & Waste Emissions & Waste Lamp Manufacture Packaging & Transport Energy Energy Energy Lighting Bulb






Incandescent Tungsten Halogen Compact fluorescent Fluorescent Strip

Disposal Process


Life Cycle of a Light Bulb
• Pre-Production:
– Obtaining the raw materials from which the various components that make up a light bulb are manufactured. – The Manufacture of Components. – The transport to the manufacturing site.

• Production:
– Further processing of materials and the assembly of components to produce the finished light bulb.

Life Cycle of a Light Bulb
• Distribution:
– The packaging of the light bulb and their transport from the place of manufacture to retail outlets.

• Utilization:
– The use of the light bulb in domestic or commercial settings to provide light.

• Disposal:
– The throwing away of the light bulb at the end of its life.

Life Cycle of a Light Bulb
• From carrying out the LCA of a Light Bulb it has been identified that the greatest environmental impact comes from the “Utilization” phase. • The “Disposal” phase of a Light Bulb is restricted as it cannot easily be reused or recycled. • Could it be possible to repair/ reuse Light Bulbs? • The major environmental impact arises from the “In Use” stage of a Light Bulb.


LCA Conclusions
Product Life Cycle Analysis: Evaluates the environmental + ecological impact during all the stages of a product’s life cycle • It becomes obvious that the greatest influence on the life cycle energy usage is at the design stage of a product • Forward planning at the design stage will reduce the environmental impact of the product. At this stage 70/80% of costs are determined.

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