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ISSUE 5 : APRIL 1998

The Journal of
Sustainable Product Design



complete product

serial Component A
disassembly end fate 1

Assembly Y parallel
end fates 1–4 disassembly

fully disassembled

ISSN 1367–6679

Re-FINE Interactive computer screen

helps children design greener
The Recyclability Map was used as a T shirts at the ‘Challenge
tool to analyse the re-design of the of Materials’ gallery,
Hewlett Packard 855C inkjet printer Science Museum, London
Analysis, page 38 Reviews, page 62


Ecologically sound coffee Reverse fishbone disassembly tree

machine concept design Analysis, page 38
Gallery, page 36
ISSUE 5 : APRIL 1998

The Journal of
Sustainable Product Design

5 Editorial
Martin Charter, Joint Editor, The Journal of Sustainable Product Design

7 Developing green products: learning from stakeholders
Michael Jay Polonsky, Senior Lecturer, School of Management, University of
Newcastle, Australia; Philip J Rosenberger III, Lecturer, University of Western
Sydney, Australia; and Jacquelyn Ottman, President of J Ottman Consulting Inc, US

22 Eco-design and integrated chain management: dealing with networks

of stakeholders
Frank Boons, Lecturer in Policy Sciences and Organisational Sociology,
Tilburg University, Netherlands

36 Ecologically sound coffee machine concept design
and Hippo Water Roller

38 The Recyclability Map: application of demanufacturing complexity
metrics to design for recyclability
Burton H Lee, Doctoral Candidate, Department of Mechanical Engineering,
Design Division, Stanford University, US; and Kosuke Ishii, Associate Professor,
Department of Mechanical Engineering, Design Division, Stanford University, US

49 Joseph Fiksel
Martin Charter, Joint Coordinator, The Centre for Sustainable Design, UK

53 Strategic marketing of greener products
Jacquelyn Ottman, President of J Ottman Consulting Inc, US; & Virginia Terry,
Researcher in Sustainable Design at The Surrey Institute of Art & Design, UK

O2 news
© 1998 The Centre for Sustainable Design.
All written material, unless otherwise 58 Special feature: Eco-design websites
stated, is the copyright of The Centre Edited by Iris V van de Graaf, O2, Netherlands
for Sustainable Design, Surrey, UK.
Views expressed in articles and letters
60 Reviews
are those of the contributors, and not
necessarily those of the publisher.
ISSN 1367–6679 64 Diary of events

Editors Editorial Board Dr Diana Montgomery

Head of Environment, Automobile
Martin Charter and Anne Chick, Africa
Association (UK)
Joint Coordinators, Gary Owen
The Centre for Sustainable, Design, UK CEO, ResponseAbility Alliance (Zimbabwe) Professor Jeremy Myerson
Contemporary Design,
Articles, Interview, O2 News and Australasia
De Montfort University (UK)
Journal marketing: Martin Charter Professor Chris Ryan
Director, Centre for Design, Royal Jonathan Smales
Gallery, Reviews, Diary and CEO, The Earth Centre (UK)
Melbourne Institute for Technology
Journal production: Anne Chick
(Australia) Sam Towle
Editorial Assistant: Virginia Terry Europe Head of Environmental Audit,
The Journal of Sustainable Product Design Jacqueline Aloisi de Larderel The Body Shop International Plc (UK)
encourages response from its readers to Director, Industry and Environment, UNEP Dr Hans van Weenen
any of the issues raised in the journal. (France) Director, UNEP Working Group
Entries for the Diary of events and material Hans Peter Becker on Sustainable Product Design,
to be considered for review should all be Managing Director, Wilkhahn (UK) Ltd. (UK) International Centre, University
sent to the Editors at the address below. Professor Eric Billett of Amsterdam (Netherlands)
Warden, Brunel University College (UK) Professor Jan-Olaf Willums
All articles published in the Analysis
Professor Dr Michael Braungart Director, Foundation for Business and
section are assessed by an external
Fachhochschule Nordostnierasachen, Sustainable Development (Norway)
panel of business professionals,
consultants and academics. (Germany) Dr Jonathan Williams
Professor Han Brezet Director, Group for Environmental
Subscription rates Director, Section of Environmental Product Manufacturing (UK)
Development, Faculty of Industrial Design US
The Journal of Sustainable Product Design
Engineering, Delft University of Technology Dr Brad Allenby
is a quarterly journal appearing in the
(Netherlands) Director, Environmental,
months of April, July, October and January
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each year. Subscription rates for one year
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(four issues) are £90.00 (UK) and £100
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(non-UK) for the paper-based version, and
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The Centre for Sustainable Design
Iris van de graaf de Keijser Dr Joseph Fiksel
Faculty of Design
Director, Kiva Product Ecology, Senior Director, Strategic Environmental,
The Surrey Institute of Art & Design
(Netherlands) Health & Safety Management, Battelle
Falkner Road
Professor Karl Lidgren Memorial Institute (US)
Director, The International Institute for
Surrey GU9 7DS James Hartzfeld
Industrial Environmental Economics,
UK Vice President, Interface Research
Lund University (Sweden)
tel +44 (0)1252 892772 Corporation (US)
Dorothy MacKenzie
fax +44 (0)1252 892747 Professor William McDonough
Director, Dragon (UK)
email: Dean, Faculty of Architecture,
internet: Professor Ezio Manzini University of Virginia (US)
Director, Facolta di Architettura,
Jacquelyn Ottman
Unita di ricerca Progetto, Prodotto,
President, J Ottman Consulting Inc (US)
Ambiente, Politecnico di Milano (Italy)
Dr Stefano Marzano
Head of Corporate Design,
Philips International (Netherlands)



Welcome to the fifth issue of

The Journal of Sustainable Product Design
Martin Chartern
Joint Editor, The Journal of Sustainable Product Design

he practicalities of a holistic The sustainability landscape is

T view of sustainable product
development and design (SPDD)
dotted with problems and oppor-
tunities. For example, changing
Sustainable product
development and design
– incorporating economic, envi- producer responsibility legisla- Sustainable product
ronmental, ethical and social tion in the electronics sector will development design (SPDD)
considerations – are poorly produce opportunities for those is concerned with balancing
understood. At present eco- providing specialist recycling economic, environmental,
efficiency is the dominant para- services and those who start to ethical and social aspects in
digm and its application at the design smart for dismantlability. the creation of products and
product level is now starting to These new designs with require services. SPDD looks to
generate new solutions. increased individual creativity minimise adverse sustainability
However, a landmine can be and innovative approaches to impacts and maximise sustain-
produced in an eco-efficient involvement from customers, ability value throughout the
manner, whilst creating jobs in suppliers and recyclers if new life-cycle of the product or
the process! solutions are to be generated service. To create sustainable
that are easier to recycle, use less products and services that
SPDD that ignores social and increase stakeholders' 'quality
hazardous materials and use
ethical issues, falls short on the of life', whilst at the same time
more recyclate.
broader sustainability agenda. As achieving major reductions in
a result, it is important to Whether one takes a holistic or resource and energy use, will
explore the value creation environmentally-driven view on require a significant emphasis
process and understand and take sustainability, we are still in a on stimulating new ideas
a position on the issues. The learning phase in relation to through higher levels of
production of footballs using product and service develop- creativity and innovation.
child labour in Pakistan or India, ment. Understanding of the
may delivery high quality prod- eco-design process is improving,
ucts and profitability, whilst and this is being driven by the Martin Charter in 'Design for
securing direct and indirect development of strategic Environmental Sustainability',
employment in the North and approaches incorporating Foresight, Office of Science and
South. However, some of the measurement metrics. However, Technology, UK, May 1998
children may lose out on educa- there is still a lot to achieve. For
tion, and suffer health problems eco-design to progress within the
through dirty stitching needles. firm there will need to more
But, if the children do not work, effective learning strategies to
their extended families may collect project experience, this
suffer continued and increased will require a learning organisa-
poverty. There is no easy answer, tion approach.
but we need a clearer under-
There are a number of organisa-
standing of the whole picture.
tions that are progressing



eco-design projects in different corporate culture relating to US, present a series of practical
parts of their businesses and in trust issues and the degree of issues surrounding design for
different parts of the world. application of the ‘not invented dismantling, and highlight a new
However, often there does here' syndrome! tool, the ‘Recyclability Map'.
not appear to be any form of The paper highlights the need for
The fifth issue of the Journal
systematic knowledge collection better communication between
of Sustainable Product Design
mechanism and little internal designers and recyclers. An inter-
highlights the need to consider
and external networking, with view with Joseph Fiksel, Senior
the needs and concerns of the
big dangers of ‘re-inventing the Director of Battelle’s Life Cycle
external stakeholders in the
wheel' arising. A mechanism Management group focuses on
eco-design process. Michael Jay
needs to be put into place to the practicalities and challenges
Polonsky, Senior Lecturer,
improve knowledge management of increasing the involvement
School of Management,
of eco-design processes and of product designers in the eco-
University of Newcastle,
content. Process management design process. In the Innovation
Australia, Philip J Rosenberger,
knowledge being how to run section, Jacquelyn Ottman,
Lecturer, University of Western
eco-design projects and content President of J Ottman Consulting
Sydney, Australia, and Jacquelyn
knowledge being the micro- Inc, US, and Virginia Terry,
Ottman, President of J Ottman
management of the operationali- Researcher in Sustainable Design
Consulting Inc, US, discuss the
sation of environmentally- at The Surrey Institute of Art &
issue of stakeholder involvement
considered product design. Design, UK, provide a series of
in the green product develop-
Some companies have started to examples of greener products
ment process based on research
experiment with intranet-driven and the opportunities and threats
conducted in the US and
systems for employees interested associated with greener market-
Australia. The research indicates
and involved in the green ing. Finally, the O2 pages provide
that interaction with stakehold-
product development process, an overview of useful eco-design
ers outside the normal system is
however what is clear is that if websites worldwide.
poorly evolved. Frank Boons,
eco-design is to be successful,
Lecturer in Policy Sciences and The Journal for Sustainable
the approach needs to be
Organisational Sociology, Tilburg Design is always interested in
systemic, involving both
University, Netherlands, analyses papers that can give examples of
customers, suppliers and recy-
the roles that individual stake- sustainable product development
clers. Therefore there should be
holders play in the product and design. Articles can be highly
opportunities for the develop-
chain, drawing on three cases practical or theoretical focusing
ment of extranet services with
from the Netherlands. The on real product or service design
different levels of accessibility,
conclusion is that it may be problems, as well as on manage-
for example, in relation to
necessary to create links and ment or policy level perspectives.
materials use and impact. The
also to break links in the product Of particular interest are articles
involvement and level of partici-
chain, for new and existing eco- that challenge conventional
pation of other stakeholders in
design projects to be successful. thinking and take a more
the eco-design process, will be
Burton H Lee, Doctoral systemic view incorporating
dependent on the level of
Candidate, Department of social and ethical, as well as
knowledge outside of the firm,
Mechanical Engineering, Design environmental and economic
and the degree of commercial
Division, Stanford University, US, considerations.
confidentiality and sensitivity
and Kosuke Ishii, Associate
attached to the product develop- As always we welcome your
Professor, Department of
ment process. Involvement will views and comments. •
Mechanical Engineering, Design
also be a function of the
Division, Stanford University,



Developing green products:

learning from stakeholders
Michael Jay Polonsky, Philip J Rosenberger III,n
and Jacquelyn A Ottmann
Senior Lecturer, School of Management, University of
Newcastle, Australia; Lecturer, University of Western Sydney,
Australia; President of J Ottman Consulting Inc, US

Michael Jay Polonsky is a senior lecturer in The complexities of environmental green, and environmental issues
the Marketing and Enterprise Group within issues require that when develop- becoming high on the list of
the School of Management at the ing new green products marketers management’s priorities. For
University of Newcastle, Australia. He should seek out, involve and learn example, 78% of CEOs of the top
has taught in the US, South Africa, New from stakeholders with environ- 50 UK firms reported that green
Zealand and Australia. His main research mental expertise. These stake- issues were important to their
areas are stakeholder theory and green holders often have information that firm's present activities and 82%
marketing/ management. He has co-edited lies outside the organisation’s main felt they would be more impor-
three books on green marketing, presented area of expertise and can assist the
tant in the future (Peattie and
conference papers and published papers firm in developing less environmen-
Ring 1993). Greening the firm
in many international journals. tally harmful products. This paper
minimises environmental harm
examines US and Australian
Philip J Rosenberger III is a lecturer in and provides an important
marketers’ perceptions of stake-
Marketing at the University of Western competitive advantage (Porter
holders’ potential to influence the
Sydney Macarthur, Campbelltown, and van der Linde 1995). Thus,
green new product development
Australia. He has taught in the Nether- greening business has important
(NPD) process and what strategies
lands and the US. His prior work has ramifications for all organisa-
can be used to involve stakeholders
appeared in the Journal of the Market tional activities, but it may
in this process. The findings
Research Society and marketing confer- require that the firm substantially
suggest that marketers believe
ences in Australia, New Zealand and the changes its culture to include
some stakeholders with ‘high’
US. His primary research interests are new green issues into all business
influencing abilities should be
product development, retailing and decisions and activities
involved in the green NPD process,
customer orientation of the salesforce.
although it appears that in practice, (McDaniel and Rylander 1993).
Jacquelyn A Ottman is the president of firms use very basic methods to However, firms which have not
J Ottman Consulting Inc, a New York- involve these stakeholders. There involved key environmental
based strategic environmental marketing also appears to be limited formal stakeholders or which have not
consultancy. Her firm's clients include interaction between the firm and adopted a learning-organisation
Interface, IBM and the US Environmental its stakeholders and that marketers approach to business (eg. risk
Protection Agency. She is the author of are not engaging and learning from taking and outward looking),
‘Green Marketing: Opportunity for others with green product expertise. will find that adopting a green
Innovation’ and a columnist for Marketing mindset is difficult.
News. She is on the Advisory Board of The
Centre for Sustainable Design, UK and is
Introduction Marketers were quick to jump
the co-chair of the New York Chapter of Environmental concern has on the green band wagon. The
O2, an international organisation of green increased in the 1990s. This has number of US ‘green products’
design professionals. resulted in consumers going more than doubled in the early



’90s (Hartman and Stafford 1997). However, marketers are rarely pages 58–59) – to design a new
Unfortunately, for the environ- environmental experts and are generation of more environmen-
ment and marketers, many of likely to be unfamiliar with all tally-friendly, cost-effective
these products were not as of the environmental intricacies S-trains. In another case, the
‘green’ as they claimed to be, of their firm’s activities. In some German company, Foron,
and many of these supposedly situations, the relevant environ- partnered with Greenpeace to
‘green’ products have mental information may not be produce the Greenfreeze line of
disappeared almost as quickly as available anywhere within the refrigerators, giving it a competi-
they appeared. On the surface, firm. If this is the case, firms must tive advantage in the European
these failures may suggest that turn to outside experts for this marketplace, as well as opening
firms were ‘right’ not to listen to information. However, when up other world markets. A
these ‘outside’ influences. faced with a new or unknown potential drawback of including
However, this inference would situation there is a tendency for more external stakeholders in
be incorrect. It is only by making firms to only look inward for the green NPD processes,
‘mistakes’ that these firms can answers and, thus, they may however, is that the processes
learn how to make more effec- overlook valuable information may become more complex.
tive and less environmentally sources. It is, therefore, impor-
Using US and Australian samples,
harmful products in the future. tant for firms committed to
this paper examines which stake-
Learning firms adopt a risk- greening their activities to be
holders marketers believe should
taking approach. outward looking and obtain
be involved in the greening of
environmental input from a
Some green products are truly products, what strategies can be
broad range of environmentally-
environmentally superior to the used to involve these stakehold-
knowledgeable stakeholders.
alternatives and are financially ers and how firms can learn from
This means that the firm should
successful. That is, they perform these interactions. The results
not simply focus on feedback
at least as well as competing will hopefully provide some
from the usual customers and
products and are less harmful to insights into strategies and
suppliers (Fineman and Clarke
the environment. Firms making approaches that can be used by
1996, McDaniel and Rylander
these goods are incorporating others to develop less environ-
1993, Polonsky 1996). To
environmental product attributes mentally harmful green products.
maximise this opportunity, firms
into the overall product mix and
must shift to an organisational-
not simply ‘tacking them on’ to
existing products as an
learning approach, ie. outward- Greening new products
looking and risk-taking.
afterthought. In this way, they Product development processes
are making environmental objec- There is some evidence that generally include a number of
tives as important as ‘other’ some firms have already adopted different steps, for example:
financial objectives (ie. profitabil- innovative learning-organisation · opportunity identification
ity, market share, etc.). Firms are initiatives and are including · design
finding that ‘going green’ makes wider environmental input in
· testing
good business sense as well as strategy development by involv-
· introduction
good environmental sense ing environmental groups in
· life cycle management
(Menon and Menon 1997, Porter their new product development
(Urban and Hauser 1993).
and van der Linde 1995). (NPD) processes (Fineman and
Clarke 1996, Hartman and While not explicitly discussed by
For products to become less
Stafford 1997). For example, Urban and Hauser (1993), learn-
environmentally harmful, all
the Danish Railway worked with ing initiatives and stakeholder
operational areas need to
O2 – a non-profit, international participation are involved in all
consider the full environmental
network of theoretically and five steps (see Figure 1). However,
impact of corporate activities
practically experienced ecologi- in the green NPD process, it is
(McDaniel and Rylander 1993).
cal design professionals (see



assumed that environmental of external groups and while the (Mendleson and Polonsky 1995,
issues and performance objec- strategies used to interact with Ottman 1996b).
tives are equally included along- these groups have not been
Environmental groups bring
side other NPD objectives and discussed in detail, it could be
vast amounts of cutting-edge
issues. For example, the Danish suggested that a learning organi-
environmental expertise.
Railway required that all materi- sation approach is an additional
However, firms must have a
als purchased for the new S-train way that firms can involve these
learning culture in place such
had to consist of re-used materi- external groups (to be discussed
that they can cooperate with
als (preferably mono-materials) later).
external groups, trial new ideas
that could be re-used later and
Within the green NPD process, and disseminate the information
that there was reduced energy
learning from, understanding and gained throughout the firm.
consumption over the life of the
‘managing’ firm-stakeholder Environmental objectives are
train. Greening the NPD process
interactions is extremely impor- achieved by enhancing in-house
means that firms consider green
tant. In particular, developing know-how with external
issues and objectives to be as
strategic green alliances may be environmental expertise.
important as other issues. This
one effective way to develop Incorporating external environ-
also means that there is a change
innovative environmental solu- mental stakeholders in the green
in the firm’s organisational
tions to business problems as NPD process is, therefore, one
culture, with the firm becoming
well as develop less environmen- effective method of overcoming
more outward-looking, as well as
tally-harmful products (Fineman firms’ limited environmental
having systems in place that
and Clarke 1996, Harrison and St. knowledge and enables them to
formally include firm-environ-
John 1996, Hartman and Stafford produce more ‘environmentally
mental stakeholder interactions.
1997, Mendleson and Polonsky friendly’ products. In addition,
Figure 1 shows how green stake-
1995). It is apparent that getting external expert green stake-
holders and learning can be
and keeping key green stake- holders have a strong desire to
included in the NPD process.
holders on-side is vital to the minimise the firms’ environmen-
Firms typically involve buyers, firm’s green success, even when tal harm. In doing so, they do
customers, R&D departments, the stakeholders involved do not not focus solely on satisfying
company executives, competi- generate new green-product profit objectives and may bring
tors, investors, government, ideas. Unfortunately, firms tradi- alternative perspectives to
suppliers, and universities/ tionally seek solutions internally solving a specific environmental
scientific community in the NPD and shy away from external product or process problem that
process. These internal and assistance, despite the fact they would otherwise not have been
external groups could be called often have limited internal considered. For example, the
‘traditional’ stakeholders. The environmental information. ozone-free Greenfreeze concept
greening process requires that refrigerators may have never
Green alliances with external
firms include other non-tradi- been developed without
stakeholders can be effectively
tional groups eg. environmental Greenpeace's input.
used in the development and
special interest groups (SIGs)
marketing of green products by While there are extensive
and, possibly even the natural
both small and large firms benefits of developing a learning
environment itself. There are
(Mendleson and Polonsky 1995, organisation approach and
a range of approaches that can
Hartman and Stafford 1996). In involving external stakeholders,
be used to address internal stake-
these green alliances, stake- firms have not generally gone
holders and these could also be
holders have played many roles, down this route. In many cases,
used to deal with external stake-
including the formation of there have been external
holders, although this has not
formal strategic alliances, serving pressures, such as regulation
been examined in the NPD liter-
as informal advisers or being or increased competition, that
ature. However, the stakeholder
hired as paid consultants have forced firms to form
literature has discussed the role



NPD activity Stakeholder group(s) Stakeholder examples Learning organisations examples


Opportunity Customers, employees, Complying with regulators before Active scanning of the external
special interest groups mandatory enforcement, eg. environment; thinking ‘outside the box’
(SIGs), competitors, electric cars in California to consider totally new or foreign
suppliers products eg. a power company identifies
the building industry (wallboard) as a
customer for the gypsum produced from
its exhaust-scrubbing processes.

Design Customers, suppliers, Involve stakeholders with green Starting from scratch (ie. not feeling
government, SIGs experiences, eg. Greenpeace and constrained to use existing approaches/
Foron's development of Greenfreeze techniques); incorporating new knowledge
refrigerators. from other units of groups into existing
designs and practices, eg. O2's designing
of Copenhagen’s S-trains so that they
used one axle instead of the traditional
two axles.

Testing Customers, SIGs SIGs evaluation of products, eg. the Working stakeholder groups in a lead-
US Green Cross labelling scheme user approach to identify problems and
make improvements before the final
product goes to market, eg. testing of an
O2 design for a gas-fired absorption
fridges resulted in a design change to
better meet product operational

Introduction Customers, competitors, Endorsement by green groups of a Monitoring product introduction, where
suppliers product, eg. ACF's endorsement of the managers are empowered to act and
Kyocera's Ecosys laser printer the information obtained is incorporated
into the firm’s planning process, eg. a
product manager modifies the packaging
of a new product to minimise excess
waste, with the changes made
operational policy.

Life cycle Competitors, SIGS Defining the least environmentally Active, monitoring of the product over its
management government, customers, harmful alternatives, eg. Environmental life cycle, with managers making changes
owners/stockholders Defence Fund’s (EDF) evaluation of to strategy and deviation from short and
least harmful alternative to long-term plans to address needs in the
McDonald's Clamshell package market eg. DuPont using a new produc-
tion technique to minimise pollution and
decrease production costs as the product
comes off patent protection, with the
changes made operational policy.

Figure 1: Stakeholder involvement in greening the NPD process (adapted from Polonsky and Ottman 1997)



firm-external group alliances. view, to be cooperative, risk hippies’. To overcome this

Reactive behaviour is not consis- taking, and able to share the inward-looking view of organisa-
tent with innovation, which is information gained across the tional decision-making, firms
usually as a result of a proactive, organisation and able to incor- must not only open their collec-
market-oriented culture coupled porate it into the firm’s ‘organi- tive minds, but they must also
with entrepreneurial values. In sational memory’. A green develop the ability to listen and
these cases firms do not really market-oriented firm is one in translate the environmental
have a willingness to take risks which the culture ‘(1) places the information they collect into
and learn from mistakes (Slater highest priority on the profitable appropriate organisational
1997, p. 165), which are hallmarks creation and maintenance of action. Nowadays, firms have
of learning organisations. For superior customer value while come to understand that being
green NPD, there is a strong considering the interests of green usually results in improved
need for an entrepreneurial other key stakeholders; and (2) production efficiency (and thus
approach to merge ecological provides norms for behaviour lower costs) and are now much
concerns and marketing strategy regarding the organisational more willing to listen to and
objectives, which has been called development of and responsive- work with environmental
enviropreneurial marketing ness to market information’ groups in becoming ‘greener’
(Menon and Menon 1997). Thus, (Slater 1997, pp. 164–165), while organisations.
effective green alliances need minimising the environmental
However, as with much
to have an organisational culture impact of its product offering.
organisational change, the fight
that is outward looking, A green-oriented learning
against the ‘not invented here’
rewarding (ie. does not punish organisation, therefore, actively
syndrome and the development
risk taking), proactive (not engages its stakeholders and
of a learning perspective, needs
reactive) and involves stake- looks for beneficial ways to
to be driven by top management.
holders. incorporate them into the
Top management must ‘practice
green NPD process.
what they preach’ through policy
The learning organisation Unfortunately, one major barrier and their own behaviour, since
to developing a learning organi- to publicly state that the firm is
Having a superior learning
sation is developing an open ‘going green’ and then continue
capability contributes to a firm's
corporate culture that is willing to use wasteful, environmentally
competitive advantage, enhanc-
to listen to new ideas, especially unfriendly practices will only
ing customer satisfaction, new
from external stakeholders. engender mistrust, suspicion and
product success, and, thus, sales
Organisations often have cynicism amongst the workforce,
growth and profitability. The
difficulty including external as well as minimise the willing-
essence of the learning organisa-
stakeholders in their processes, ness of external environmental
tion leads to the development of
which results in the so-called experts to work with the firm.
new capacities and also funda-
‘not invented here’ syndrome.
mental shifts of individual and Moving to open structures will
Firms suffering from the ‘not
collective mindsets, where help instil commitment from all
invented here’ syndrome tend
people continually expand their individuals within the firm and
to belittle, discount or totally
capacity to create the results will ensure that maximum gains
ignore ideas from outside the
they desire, through nurturing are achieved in any stakeholder
firm, presupposing the superior-
new and expansive patterns of interactions. This may also
ity of all ideas from within the
thinking, and where people are result in more formal structures
firm. This was typically the case
continually learning how to to specifically enable the organi-
in the early days of the environ-
learn together (Senge 1992). sation to learn from its green
mental movement, where envi-
A learning firm developing new stakeholders. Given that a
ronmental groups’ call for
green products needs to be learning orientation is now
change were often viewed by
willing to challenge the accepted widely recognised as being an
firms as coming from ‘crazy



Shell and important asset to the firm, it

would be expected that firms
minimise the impact of given
stakeholders, without directly
would now seek to formally interacting with stakeholders;
Greenpeace incorporate green stakeholders · an aggressive approach, where
in the strategy and green NPD the firm attempts to directly
have processes. change the stakeholders views
or ability to influence organisa-
traditionally Involving stakeholders
tional outcomes;
· an adapting approach, where
in the strategy process
adopted the firm modifies its behaviour
To ensure that firms address according to the stakeholder’s
aggressive all environmental concerns and
broaden their perspective to
interests; and
· a cooperative approach, where
approaches evaluating environmental issues,
they must include a wider set of
the firm attempts to work with
the stakeholder to achieve a
individuals and groups. According
suggesting that to stakeholder theory, organisa-
desired set of outcomes.

tions should readjust their priori- While the specific approaches

each other has ties – including environmental vary depending on the author(s),
ones – to bring them in line with all agree that firms can work
‘got it wrong’. their stakeholders’ interests directly with their stakeholders
(Atkinson et al. 1997, Freeman to achieve common objectives.
However, 1984). Stakeholder theory
suggests, that in order to develop
In practice, firms have used all
of these approaches in relation
in other effective organisational strategies
and outcomes, a firm must
to green marketing issues. For
example, Shell and Greenpeace
situations, consider all its stakeholders’
interests and design strategies
have traditionally adopted aggres-
sive approaches suggesting that
that minimise stakeholders’
Greenpeace potential to disrupt marketing
each other has ‘got it wrong’.
However, in other situations,
activities and maximise stake-
has adopted a holders’ potential to assist organ-
Greenpeace has adopted a
cooperative approach to work with
isational activities (Atkinson et
organisations to solve environ-
cooperative al. 1997, Freeman 1984, Harrison
mental problems. For example,
and St. John 1996, Polonsky
Greenpeace worked with the
approach to 1996). Including the interests of a
wider set of stakeholder groups
Sydney Olympic-bid committee
to ensure that the 2000
work with in strategy development can
increase organisational value, but
Olympics would be as green as
possible. Firms have also under-
there must be specific procedures
organisations that enable this to occur.
taken extensive lobbying activi-
ties in an attempt to isolate the

to solve Several different types of broad

strategies have been suggested.
impact of their stakeholders on
their environmental activities, an

environmental For example, Polonsky (1996)

suggested four approaches could
approach which has been used in
the wider public policy area as
be used, including: well. In a wider policy example,
problems. · an isolationist approach, many Australian governmental
where the firm attempts to officials pressured international



stakeholders (ie. leaders of other Heads of Government) support · owners/shareholders

countries) to have mandatory for the Australian greenhouse gas · special interest groups
greenhouse gas reduction targets position, as these stakeholder · suppliers
taken off the international groups not only have extensive
· top management.
agenda. The rationale used is that direct power in the international
countries need to be treated environmental process, but Respondents were then asked
differently depending on their could influence other stake- to rate stakeholders on each
circumstances. In Australia's holder groups as well. influencing ability (direct threat-
case, it has been suggested that ening ability, direct cooperating
setting such limits would result ability, and their ability to
in a substantial slowing of the
indirectly influence others to act)
economy without resulting in Two separate samples were using a seven-point scale (1 =
any major improvement in the collected to examine managers’ very high ability, 7 = very low
world environment, given perceptions of stakeholders’ ability). The scenario and list of
Australia is such a relatively small ability to influence green NPD stakeholders were developed
producer of greenhouse gases. activities and to determine what with and pretested on a small
While there is debate over the specific strategies and/or tactics representative sample, which
environmental appropriateness were used to address these stake- agreed that the eight stake-
of such an approach, it has been holders’ interests. In the first holders examined had the most
to some extent adopted. sample, Australian marketers influence on the green NPD
were asked to evaluate eight process.
From the stakeholder perspec-
stakeholders’ influence in the
tive, Polonsky (1996) suggested The second sample involved US
development of a hypothetical
that each stakeholder has the marketing managers involved in
green product. In the second
ability to affect the firm in three the development of green prod-
sample, US marketers, who had
ways: a) directly threaten; b) ucts that had won the American
been involved in the develop-
directly cooperate; and c) indi- Marketing Association’s (AMA)
ment of green products, were
rectly influence organisational Environmental Edison Award
asked to evaluate the influence
activities. The stakeholders’ (Ottman 1996a). Using the same
of thirteen stakeholders in that
influencing abilities determine scales, the US marketers were
process and to specify what
the strategy to be used to address asked to evaluate the potential
strategies they had used to
a stakeholder’s interests. Given influence of a broader list of 13
involve these stakeholders.
these approaches, stakeholders stakeholders in the development
may facilitate organisational The Australian sample consisted and marketing of the products
learning and firm-stakeholder of all members of the New South that had won the award. The
cooperation in NPD processes. Wales (NSW) Branch of the stakeholders included:
Australian Marketing Institute · academics/scientific community
For example, a stakeholder
(AMI), and the data discussed
with a high level of all three · competitors, employees/unions
in this paper was collected from
influencing abilities might want · end customers
the first part of a larger survey.
to be more actively included in · federal government
Respondents were given a
organisational processes, or the
hypothetical setting and then · local community
firm might adopt behaviours
asked to evaluate a set of stake- · media, retailers/trade
consistent with the stakeholder’s
holders, including: · shareholders/owners
concerns, thus getting and/or
retaining stakeholders interest. · competitors · special interest groups
Looking at the examples · customers · state and local government
mentioned above, the Australian · employees · suppliers
government was keen to gain US · government · top management.
and CHOG (Commonwealth



As these marketers had been Edison awards in 1993–1996 on the stakeholder group. That
involved with the green NPD (a 40% response rate). One is, there were statistically
process, it was interesting that respondent did not complete significant differences between
they included this expanded the section dealing with specific the stakeholder groups in terms
group of stakeholders. A US- strategies used to address stake- of each of their three influencing
based, green-marketing expert holders. Another company, abilities and that, on the whole,
also indicated that the Australian which had won two awards, indi- the groups were perceived to be
list of stakeholders needed to cated that it could not respond statistically different to one
be expanded to reflect the US to the survey as the information another. While respondents were
business environment. sought was confidential. This given the opportunity to provide
might suggest that some US firms additional stakeholders to this
In addition to the three influenc-
do have detailed processes for list, no one group was suggested
ing questions, US marketers were
dealing with their stakeholders by more than five respondents.
also asked to rate stakeholders in
and, thus, there is a possibility
terms of their importance to the Table 1 shows that the Australian
that some non-response bias
green NPD process and to ‘Briefly marketers’ believe all stakehold-
may indeed exist within the US
describe how you included/ ers rated high (a mean of less
sample. However, due to the
considered each stakeholder or than 3.5) on at least one of the
small sample size, a quantitative
their interest when developing three influencing abilities. Only
non-response analysis was not
your product.’ The question was ‘Suppliers’ were evaluated as low
related to actual behaviour and on two influencing abilities (low
determined what specific on threat and indirect influence)
strategies marketers had used Results and four stakeholders were
to include stakeholders when perceived to rate highly on all
The results are divided into two
developing award-winning green three influencing abilities. (Items
sections: 1) examines the two
products. Given the hypothetical marked N/A were not examined
samples’ attitudes towards the
nature of the scenario used for for the Australian sample.)
stakeholders’ influencing abilities
the Australian sample, a question On the whole, it appears that
and briefly compares the two
relating to the approaches used, Australian marketers believe that
samples; and 2) examines the
was not appropriate. all stakeholders examined have
strategies that the US marketers
an extensive ability to influence
used to include these stake-
the development and marketing
The samples holders in the green NPD
of green products, suggesting a
For the Australian sample, there more outward-looking learning-
were 119 useable responses Stakeholders’ influence organisation view. As such, it
received from the 1370 question- Based on the earlier learning would be expected that these
naires sent out (an 8.8% response organisation and stakeholder stakeholders’ interests would
rate). The sample distribution, in discussion, it would be expected be addressed in the green NPD
terms of respondents’ industry, that respondents would perceive process and that these groups
was not statistically different to stakeholders to be influential in would be actively involved in
the AMI membership for NSW, the green NPD process and that the green NPD process. However,
and a statistical examination of some (key) stakeholders would this hypothetical response might
differences between early and be considered more influential potentially differ from US
late respondents suggested there than others. A statistical compar- marketers, who had previously
was no non-respondent bias. ison of the mean values of all been involved in the green NPD
three influencing criteria for each process.
The US sample was obtained
from six of the fifteen US stakeholder within the Australian The US marketers were asked
marketing managers whose sample indicated that the to evaluate thirteen stakeholder
products had won environmental influencing ability was dependent groups. They were also asked to



Stakeholder group Direct threatening Direct cooperating Indirect influencing Importance

ability 1 ability 2 ability 3 ability 4

Competitors Low* High* Low Low High* High* Low N/A

(End) consumers High High High High High High High N/A

Employees/unions Low* High* Low* High* Low* High* Low N/A

Government Low High Low* Low* Low* High* Low N/A


Owners/shareholders Low High Low* Low* Low Low Low N/A

Special interest groups Low* High* Low* High* Low* High* Low N/A

Suppliers High Low Low High Low Low High N/A

Top management High High High High High* Low* High N/A

Academics/scientific Low N/A Low N/A Low N/A Low N/A


Federal government High N/A Low N/A Low N/A Low N/A

Local community Low N/A Low N/A Low N/A Low N/A

Media Low N/A High N/A High N/A Low N/A

Retailers/trade High N/A High N/A High N/A High N/A

Table 1: US and Australian managers’ perceptions of stakeholders’ importance and influence

Notes (US terminology differences set off in brackets)

High = less than 3.5; Low = 3.5 or more

1 In your opinion to what extent can (US: On a scale from 1–7 to what extent can)
the actions of each group directly disrupt the operation of marketing plans for this
product? (1 = high and 7 = low)
2 In your opinion to what extent can (US: On a scale from 1–7 to what extent can)
the actions of each group directly assist in the operation of marketing plans for
this (USA: your) product? (1 = high and 7 = low)
3 In your opinion to what extent can (US: On a scale from 1–7 to what extent can)
this group influence the behaviour/attitudes of others in such a way as to modify
other’s behaviour towards the (US: your) product? (1 = high and 7 = low)
4 On a scale from 1–7 how important was this group to the development of your
product? (1 = high and 7 = low)

* Mean values of given influencing value for the specific stakeholder are
significantly different at the .05 level.



rate each stakeholder’s ‘impor- Table 1 shows that for the most
US respondents tance’ to the overall process and part, US marketers believed
respond to an open-ended stakeholders had low influencing
believed that question identifying the specific abilities. Six of the thirteen
approaches that they had used to stakeholders were rated low on
employees, address each stakeholder’s inter- all three influencing criteria
ests. Having had successful green (academics, employees, local
owners, NPD experiences, expectations community, owners, SIGs, local
were that the US sample would government). Of the remaining
government perceive certain stakeholders
to have a greater influence
seven stakeholders, three were
rated high on only one influenc-

and competitors than the Australian sample. A

statistical comparison of the
ing ability (competitors, federal
government, suppliers), two
mean values identified that the were rated high on two influenc-
had low stakeholder group considered, ing abilities (media, top manage-
significantly affected the ment) and two were rated as
influencing influencing criteria and impor- high on all three influencing
tance value. That is, there were abilities (consumers, retailers).
abilities in statistical differences between
The results suggest that US
the stakeholder groups in terms
marketers believe that external
regard to the of each of their three influencing
abilities and importance level,
groups – academics/scientific
community, SIGs and govern-
green NPD and that on the whole, the
thirteen groups were perceived
ment groups (who often have
extensive environmental
process, even to be statistically different to
one another.
information) – were not consid-
ered to have a high influencing

though they are In terms of evaluating the impor-

tance of stakeholders in the
ability in terms of the develop-
ment of new green products.

traditionally development of green products

(see Table 1, column 4), US
If these external groups are not
considered in the green NPD
managers felt that four of the process, their environmental
considered thirteen stakeholders were knowledge cannot be shared
important (end consumers, with the firm and the environ-
to be able to retailers, suppliers, top manage- mental integrity of products may
ment). This might be expected suffer.
greatly affect as these four groups are often
US respondents also believed
considered ‘internal’ to the
that employees, owners, govern-
organisational green NPD process and would
traditionally be expected to be
ment, and competitors had low
influencing abilities in regard to
outcomes. heavily involved in strategy
development. However, it
the green NPD process, even
though they are traditionally
appears that US marketers who
considered to be able to greatly
had actually been involved in the
affect organisational outcomes.
green NPD process, did not
This finding is consistent with
extensively believe that
Fineman and Clarke (1996), who
‘external’ groups were overly
found that these groups did not
important for their green NPD
influence the greening of the UK
activities, which is inconsistent
supermarket, power, chemical
with a stakeholder and learning-
and automobile industries.
oriented theory.



For the purposes of comparisons stakeholders and their individual experience from internal and
between the samples, only the stakes is extremely context- external sources. It would, there-
eight ‘common’ stakeholders will specific and thus green issues fore, have been expected that the
be examined (see the shaded area might have more of a priority firms in the US sample would
in Table 1). In all but two cases, amongst Australian firms have illustrated open, proactive,
US marketers perceive that compared to US firms. For learning approaches to interact-
individual stakeholders have a example, in Australia breaches of ing with stakeholder groups and
lower influencing ability than environmental regulations in then incorporating that knowl-
their Australian counterparts (ie. some states can result in individ- edge into the organisation’s
for suppliers: threat US><> greater uals within firms being fined and ‘memory’ to address present and
than Australia, top management: even jailed. Historically, there future environmental problems.
indirect influence US greater has also been a greater willing- This would improve the firm’s
than Australia). It is clear from ness in Australia for at least some capacity to take effective action,
Table 1 that Australian marketers external stakeholder groups to be which is how Kim (1993, p. 38)
perceive stakeholders to be more involved in various aspects of the defines learning. For example,
influential (17 out of 24 possible business process. Whereas, the we could have anticipated a firm
cases) than US marketers (7 out US has historically seen a more would develop a working party
of 24 possible cases). antagonistic environment in this or task force, with representa-
respect. Both these factors could tives from suppliers, employees
The fact that US marketers
explain the higher importance and other relevant stakeholder
perceived stakeholders to have
placed on stakeholders by the groups. This committee would try
overall lower influencing abilities
Australian sample. Another alter- to identify ways to improve the
is important, because it was
native explanation could be that firm's green product performance
based on their experience of
Australian firms have had the and would provide suggestions
being involved in the green NPD
opportunity to gain experience that could be implemented
process. Therefore, it is possible
of what works from early US across the firm. However, this
that Australian marketers might
efforts, as well as having had the consultative process did not
be attributing more influence to
opportunity to pick up on the appear to be used. In fact, there
stakeholders than they actually
learning-organisation trend were few detailed suggestions
deserve. If this were correct, US
before formulating specific green about stakeholders’ interaction,
marketers would, therefore, not
NPD approaches. Lastly, it might eg. most were extremely general
be expected to involve ‘less’
be that the US and Australian and primarily related to monitor-
important stakeholders in the
business environments are ing the wider business environ-
green NPD process. However, it
significantly different and this ment. Some representative
could be that US marketers are in
restricts comprehensive statements are:
the initial (relatively costless and
cross-cultural comparisons.
easy) stages of greening their Federal Government: ‘FTC (Federal
products and, thus, might not Strategies to include Trade Commission) marketing
need extensive external assis- stakeholders and advertising guidelines are the
tance to make improvements Given that US firms in the sample only place we pay attention.’
that require more difficult have been successful in develop- Academic/scientific community:
environmental changes (Porter ing award-winning products it ‘Only considered to extent
and van der Linde 1995). would be expected that they [they] provided background
One alternative explanation would have specific, proactive information for our work.’
might be that the stakeholders in strategies to involve stakeholders Media: ‘Want to focus on issues
the two countries have different in the green NPD process. In that can get free publicity.’
influencing abilities. This sugges- this way firms would truly have
Supplier: ‘Supplier support is
tion is plausible, for stakeholder a learning philosophy, as they
theory suggests that the range of would gain knowledge and



Only two of the six respondents market-orientation and learning-

Only two of the suggested that they actively orientation literature would
worked with the scientific/ suggest they should.
six respondents academic community and none
Several marketers in the study
suggested that they worked with
also identified that employees
suggested that environmental experts (ie. green
could be important in the green
groups or governmental agencies)
NPD process. However, from the
they actively in developing products. From this
study, it appears that the involve-
perspective of greening activities,
it is questionable whether
worked with ment of external environmental
experts in the green NPD process
employees would have the
necessary environmental
the scientific/ is limited. As was suggested
earlier, this lack of involvement
expertise to assist the firm in
making ‘real’ or ‘substantial’
might reflect the fact that it is
academic relatively ‘easy’ to make environ-
environmental improvements.

mental improvements in the In practice, there are many green

community and initial stages of corporate green- marketing examples of a stake-
ing through capitalising on inter- holder-involvement processes.
none suggested nal technical advances, which For example, a number of firms
actively petitioned the US Federal
obviates the firm from having
that they to open up and start interacting
and learning from external
Trade Commission (FTC) to
develop, continue and even
strengthen the Environmental
worked with stakeholders.
Marketing Guidelines. Similarly,
This is not to suggest that none
Greenpeace used its resources to
environmental of the respondents in the US
sample involved any stakeholders
generate tens of thousands of
pre-production orders for
experts (ie. in the green NPD process. All
respondents indicated that their
Foron’s new Greenfreeze
refrigerators, which Greenpeace
green groups or firms tried to identify customers’
needs and work with them
had helped to develop. As was
mentioned earlier, O2 worked
whenever possible. Two respon-
governmental dents even suggested that their
with the Danish Railways on its
newest version of the
organisation needed to ensure
agencies) in that customers understood the
Copenhagen S-train to improve
energy efficiency and
product’s environmental benefits,
performance, and reduce the
developing indicating that firms believe they
overall product-lifetime costs and
must interact with customers in
environmental impacts of the
products. order to educate them or change
their expectations of organisa-
trains. McDonalds also applied a
stakeholder involvement process
tional behaviour. In these situa-
when they worked with the
tions, marketers are not simply
Environmental Defence Fund
reacting to their stakeholders’
(EDF) to identify the least
interests, but are proactively
environmentally harmful
modifying activities and working
alternative to polystyrene
with stakeholders to obtain the
‘clamshell’ packages.
desired outcomes, just as the



There is some evidence that simplistic in nature. That is, of both the stakeholders and the
respondents do, to a limited marketers are adopting behav- firm are met. Such an integrated,
extent, involve some stakehold- iours to address stakeholders’ proactive green NPD process
ers in their green NPD process. interests and, in general, are not requires extensive communica-
However, it does not appear that working with external stake- tion between the firm and its
this involvement occurs in an holders to solve specific green green stakeholders.
integrated fashion and, therefore, product problems – as would be
No respondents suggested that
it is not as regular a feature of expected from learning-oriented
they used innovative, cooperative
green NPD processes as might firms. While they were becoming
arrangements to include expert
have been expected. The greener, it could be suggested
stakeholders. In practice, such
processes that were used, were that they were not truly becom-
activities include firms working
very loosely structured and did ing learning organisations but
with environmental groups, the
not necessarily include external were reacting to pressures in the
scientific community or other
environmental stakeholders. One business environment.
external stakeholders to solve
possible interpretation is that the
While on the surface the results specific business problems. There
average firm is at the early stages
seem to suggest that firms are are many anecdotal examples of
of this transformation process,
adopting a ‘market-orientated’ these types of relationships in
where they are ‘stumbling
learning approach, it seems that, the wider business press,
around in the dark’, unsure of
in fact, they are actually applying however. For example, General
what to do exactly, trying these
an adapting-type strategy Motors worked with the National
new approaches hesitantly and
(Polonsky 1996), where they Resources Defence Council to
on an ‘as needed’ basis.
modify their behaviour, whether reduce its pollution output. In
Alternatively, in Kim’s (1993)
it is environmentally right or other cases, environmental
terms, these actions could be
wrong. From the results, it is groups have actually proactively
seen as being superstitious learning
unclear if firms that are designing identified alternative product
or learning under ambiguity, where
green products can or are truly uses, such as the Foron
changes in actions take place,
addressing all their stakeholders’ Greenpeace example referred
but there is ultimately no true
interests. Although, it does to earlier.
connection between the events.
appear that the firms are develop-
Thus, there is no true learning The literature has suggested that
ing less environmentally harmful
in regard to adding to the firm’s these types of cooperative green
solutions than the traditional
green organisational capabilities. arrangements have additional
alternatives. However, we cannot
benefits for firms, such as
say that they have actually
increasing the perceived credibil-
Implications modified their firm’s culture to
ity of activities or generating
make it truly greener and more
This study appears to suggest that positive publicity (not to
stakeholder-involved and
marketers believe some stake- mention the financial benefits).
learning-oriented in nature.
holders with high influencing The relationships also benefit
abilities should be involved in Overall, it appears that there is environmental groups, who
the green NPD process. While limited learning occurring as a achieve their own wider objec-
this makes intuitive sense, it does result of the firm-stakeholder tives. For example, Greenfreeze
not appear that marketers are interaction, though it might be enabled Foron to become
implementing this approach, more appropriate to refer to this competitive in the European
or they are doing so but in an as superstitious learning or learning refrigerator market while helping
unstructured fashion. From the under ambiguity as discussed Greenpeace work towards its
qualitative part of the study, it earlier. Adopting a cooperative, goal of saving the ozone layer.
seems that the approaches used learning-oriented approach Such arrangements also assist in
to involve stakeholders are should ensure that the objectives educating consumers and the



wider population towards specific respondents did not suggest they organisation requires proactive
environmental issues, problems could use strategic partnering interaction with external green
and solutions. activities more aggressively is stakeholders and a willingness to
surprising, especially given the incorporate new environmental
On the occasions when firms
fact that, internationally, this ideas, as well as test ‘new things’.
have included stakeholders, it is
practice appears to have been Firms must develop an ability and
not clear that those stakeholders
successfully used in both the willingness to trust outsiders
are involved in an effective
green and non-green areas. and reduce the perception that
fashion, and some potential
failures will be punished. This
benefits may, therefore, be over-
enables risk-taking to be
looked. For example, involving Conclusions rewarded, resulting in organisa-
stakeholders with a high
In general, it appears that the US tional learning. Ultimately, it
indirect-influencing ability not
respondents are not being truly comes down to the changing of
only ensures that products are
open and receptive, and are not the firm’s culture, which is
less environmentally harmful, but
learning from others operating in frequently a slow and difficult
may change other stakeholders’
the green product area. One process.
beliefs about the firm. For
possible explanation is that there
example, having the Greenpeace It seems that some firms are
is still some distrust between the
stamp of approval and the trying to make the shift, as an
firm and its external stakeholders
resulting tens of thousands of increasing number are starting
(‘old habits die hard’) and firms
pre-production orders allowed to appoint environmental
are, therefore, wary of bringing
Foron to secure the capital managers to ensure compliance
these external groups into the
investment needed (from with environmental regulations
formal planning process. For
another stakeholder group) to and push their respective organi-
example, McDonalds and the EDF
manufacture the new product. sations to be greener. Thus,
spent many months developing
For this type of strategy to be environmental issues are starting
the terms of reference of their
effective, the firm has to estab- to be taken seriously at senior
cooperative agreement, which
lish links and gain the trust of levels, and this may open oppor-
included things such as what
external stakeholders before it tunities for marketers to take
issues the EDF could examine
can expect to gain their endorse- an active role in the greening of
and limited McDonalds’ ability
ment. The firm may manage the firm and its NPD processes.
to publicise the relationship.
the green NPD process, but the Marketers are uniquely
Without developing trust
external stakeholders must have positioned to help proactively
between the parties, it may be
some ownership as well. Failing to lead the greening charge, as they
difficult to have open dialogue
gain their trust and support can already interface with a range
and develop cooperative envi-
only hamper the greening of external stakeholders (eg.
ronmental relationships that
process and could result in its suppliers, regulators, customers).
maximise the potential gains for
outright failure.
both parties. This will make it Increasingly, other business
Unexpectedly, there was no unlikely that any resulting learn- functions have been devoting
suggestion by any of the US firms ing will be transferred across the attention to the environment,
in the study that stakeholders firm, or integrated into the firm’s including finance, product devel-
could proactively be leveraged to ‘memory’ as would be expected opment, strategic management
influence ‘Others’. In fact, the US of a learning organisation. and marketing. Recent research
respondents felt that groups with suggests that there is a positive
To help explain this behaviour,
specific environmental expertise relationship between environ-
it is useful to understand that
had a minimal ability to modify mental and business perform-
while all organisations learn, not
others’ behaviour and were not ance, which may enable green
all organisations are learning
important to the overall NPD activities to be integrated into
organisations. To be a learning
process. The fact that US corporate culture (Feldman et al.



1997, Porter and van der Linde interwoven (Menon and competitive advantage. This will
1995). The emerging consensus Menon 1997). require that the firms adopt more
among business leaders is that of a learning organisation culture
Therefore, involving stake-
seeking social good and business (eg. outward looking, risk taking)
holders in the green NPD
successes is no longer an ‘either if they hope to maximise the
process is paramount for
or’ proposition, but rather a case benefits that these alliances
establishing long-term
where both are very much offer. •

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ment act as consultants. Marketing Urban, G.L. and J.R. Hauser Design
of Management Executive Vol. 10
News Vol. 30 (1996b) p. 15. and Marketing of New Products.
No. 2, (1996) pp.46-60.
Prentice Hall: Englewood Cliff NJ,
Peattie, K. and T. Ring. Greener
Hartman, C. and E. Stafford Green USA 1993.
strategies: The role of the strategic
alliances: Building New Business
planner. Greener Management
with Environmental Groups. Long
International Issue 3 (1993) pp 51-64.
Range Planning Vol. 30 No. 2, (1997)
pp. 84-196.



Eco-design and integrated

chain management:
dealing with networks
of stakeholders
Frank Boonsn
Lecturer, Policy Sciences and Organisational Sociology,
Tilburg University, Netherlands

Besides technical challenges that this programme, the Environ-

have to be met in order to reduce mental Ministry took the
the ecological effects of products, concept of environmental
this paper argues that organisa- sustainability as a starting point
tional challenges have to be dealt for new policy programmes, and
with as well. Two strategies are as a mechanism to re-focus
distinguished: eco-design, the existing activities. Giving special
Frank Boons teaches policy sciences development and successful attention to the ecological
and organisational sociology at Tilburg marketing of green products, and effects of products throughout
University in the Netherlands. His integrated chain management, their life cycle was an important
main research interest is the change
the improvement of the ecological operationalisation of the concept
process within organisations as they
performance of an existing product. of environmental sustainability.
attempt to become ‘greener'.
When a company wants to employ This attention focussed on two
His PhD thesis explored this issue
one of these strategies successful, strategies. The first, eco-design,
with respect to the development and
it has to deal with a network of dealt with the incorporation of
introduction of ‘green' products. He
stakeholders. Based on three case ecological criteria into the design
has published on change processes
within companies, changes in the studies taken from the Netherlands, process of new products.
relation between business and the paper provides some lessons Integrated chain management
government in the environmental on how to do this. In addition, the became the label for attempts to
policy field, and industrial ecology. government perspective is taken as improve the ecological perfor-
At the moment, he is working on an well; the fact that the introduction mance of existing products. The
international comparative research of environmentally sustainable idea of involving the whole
project, the European Business products hinges on organisational product chain was central to this
Environmental Barometer (EBEB). challenges provides some lessons second strategy.
for policy programmes covering the
Since then, a number of initia-
development of greener products.
tives have been undertaken that
can be seen as the implementa-
Introduction tion of these strategies. Below,
three such cases are described.
In 1989, the Dutch government
Each case is the result of the
gave a new impetus to society
activities of a core actor, as well
with its National Environmental
as the activities of other compa-
Policy Programme (NEPP). With
nies in the product chain,



including governmental agencies waste, and proposed a strategy processed eighty percent of the
and societal actors. for developing a plan for dimin- total amount of milk produced
ishing that waste stream. in the Netherlands.
Eco-design and integrated chain
Importantly, the paper left
management are closely related In 1988, eighty percent of the
specific goals and actions open:
to activities of companies fresh milk for consumption was
the strategy was to discuss these
throughout the product chain. packed in milk cartons, and
with members of the product
At first sight, it seems important twenty percent in glass bottles.
chain. The three cases described
that these companies cooperate Glass bottles can be used a
here are all linked in one way or
in order to reduce the ecological number of times, so diary
another to this policy paper.
effects of their products. producers do not have an inti-
They involve the products milk
However, as these cases will mate relationship with producers
packaging, PVC packaging, and
show, cooperation is sometimes, of glass bottles. The relationship
PVC piping systems. Between
but certainly not always, neces- with producers of milk cartons is
1988 and 1995, the ecological
sary. On the contrary, sometimes more intensive. In Holland, three
effects of these products became
cooperation forms a barrier to producers of milk cartons are
subject to debate. For each
such initiatives. important, Tetra Pak being the
product, the product chain is
most known. Because milk
The focus of this paper is, then, described first. Then, the activi-
cartons are used only once, their
how companies should deal with ties are described and analysed
design and overprint can be
the network of stakeholders in (for a full account, see Boons
changed, thus providing interest-
order to employ a successful 1995; also Boons 1996).
ing marketing possibilities. Apart
eco-design or integrated chain
from that, Tetra Pak has also
management strategy. Equally
Milk packaging provided dairy producers with
important are the consequences
the equipment which is used to
for actors willing to steer compa- Traditionally, fresh consumer
fill the cartons. The fact that
nies into the direction of such milk was delivered by milkmen
these machines are specifically
initiatives. Thus, in drawing in glass bottles. Parallel to the
designed for milk cartons points
lessons from the three cases, development of supermarkets,
to the dependency of the dairy
attention will be focussed on the disposable milk cartons have
producers on a packaging system,
way in which companies and replaced glass bottles. Milk
and thus on Tetra Pak.
governmental agencies have to ‘cartons’ consist of carton board
deal with this network of stake- covered with a small film of While there are still milkmen
holders in developing eco-design polyethylene. active in Holland, fresh milk is
and integrated chain manage- predominantly distributed
ment. The product chain through supermarkets. Albert
The product chain relevant for Heijn is market leader, and plays
this case is that of dairy products an important role in the
Three cases and, more specifically, fresh milk. Association of Retailers (CBL).
Parallel with the preparation of In the Netherlands, milk is After the milk is consumed, glass
the comprehensive policy produced by a large number of bottles are returned to the dairy
programme, the Environmental farmers, which have organised producers via a deposit system;
Ministry developed a policy themselves into just over one they are collected by the retail-
paper on the prevention and re- hundred cooperatives. These ers. Milk cartons are disposed of
use of waste. This paper was cooperatives are responsible for by the consumers via the waste
accepted by Parliament in 1988 packing and selling milk (prod- collecting system which is
(VROM 1988). In line with the ucts) to retailers as well as managed by municipalities. They
general concepts, this policy independent milkmen. During dispose of this stream by having
paper took the product life cycle the period under study, a trend it burned in regional incineration
as a starting point. It identified a towards concentration took plants.
number of important sources of place. Four of the cooperatives



Introducing new milk packaging.

Retailers packaging
Initially, GE Plastics saw the milk
Since the early eighties, Dutch
had as a environmentalist groups have
packaging as a ‘marketing’
project, which was not related to
criticised disposable milk pack- environmental issues. At one
principle that ages. They prefer the glass bottle, point, however, GE Plastics was
mainly because of its re-usability. approached by consumer organi-
no new For these groups, the milk carton sations and environmentalist
symbolises the growth of dispos- groups. These groups formed a
reusable able packaging. coalition in order to put pressure
During the mid eighties, the on industry to introduce ‘green
packaging was multinational General Electric products’ to the market, due to
Plastics (GE Plastics) – which the following reasons. The policy
acceptable, specialises in ‘industrial’ plastics
(used in for instance car
paper discussed above called for
intensive discussions on a

because it bumpers) – developed a new

milk packaging, a re-usable bottle
number of waste streams. Both
environmental groups as well as
consumer organisations were
demanded made of polycarbonate. The
primary reason for this was not invited to participate in these
to develop a sustainable alterna- discussions. In order to do so
space and tive for milk cartons, but to try more efficiently, and to make
and enter the consumer market the most out of this opportunity,
handling with a recognisable product. In these organisations pooled their
that way, the name and qualities resources. This included joint
which did of polycarbonate would be consumer-oriented actions to put
pressure on specific products, as
exposed. Their choice for milk
not profit the packaging was based on the
fact that in the US, polycarbonate
well as the joint collection of
information on the ecological

retailer. Thus, bottles were used for baby food. effects of products.
This coalition thought the poly-
Their first step was to contact the
a powerful dairy producers. Although the
large dairy producers were inter-
carbonate bottle to be a good
alternative to the disposable

coalition within ested in this new development, it

was quite clear that the product
milk carton. Subsequently,
information was exchanged and
discussed between GE Plastics
the product chain as a whole was not respon-
sive. Dairy producers would be and the coalition. Within GE
forced to invest in a new system Plastics, a positive judgement on
chain blocked for filling bottles; moreover, the polycarbonate bottle was
they would have to clean these seen as important not only for a
this alternative bottles, an extra activity. successful introduction, but also
Retailers within CBL had as a as a way of preventing the
packaging. principle that no new reusable damage to the image of poly-
carbonate. In the end, based on
packaging was acceptable,
because it demanded space and the information given by GE
handling which did not profit Plastics, environmentalist groups
the retailer. Thus, a powerful and consumer organisations
coalition within the product concluded that the polycarbonate
chain blocked this alternative bottle was, from an ecological



perspective, a good alternative to packaging waste. During these was supposed to replace, did not
the milk carton. negotiations, the Environmental enter into the considerations of
Ministry put forward a list with the central actor, GE Plastics.
As a direct result from the
disposable packages which could When this aspect was brought
policy paper on the prevention
be substituted with reusable under their attention by environ-
and re-use of waste, the Dutch
packages. One of these was the mentalists, GE Plastics happily
Environmental Ministry (VROM)
milk carton. As the Ministry used this consideration, and
initiated a discussion group
could not provide the arguments started to expand on it.
whose aim was to propose
for the ecological advantages of
measures to reduce the amount This outcome came about only
these substitutions, the SVM was
of packaging waste generated in after a number of barriers were
able to reach a compromise. It
the Netherlands. In this group, overcome. A first barrier is the
was agreed that industry would
governmental officials partici- structure of the product chain.
perform ‘eco studies’, comparing
pated, as well as members from The main characteristic of this
the ecological effects of the
industry and from national product chain is the strong
disposable and reusable packag-
environmentalist groups and dependence of dairy producers
ing of twenty consumer prod-
consumer organisations. Industry on the food retailers, who
ucts. In addition, they committed
was represented by the control the only distribution
themselves to substituting the
Foundation for Packaging and channel for fresh milk. As far as
disposable packaging if the
the Environment (SVM). Rather packaging is concerned, the
reusable packaging had a better
than representing sector-based actors in this part of the product
ecological performance, and if
interests, this organisation chain have a common interest:
there would be no substantial
represented the whole packaging no handling of used packaging.
economic objections to such a
chain, including material As a result, the dairy producers
producers, packaging producers, are dependent on their suppliers
users of packaging, and retailers. Coordinated by the SVM, of milk cartons. This dependency
The first task of this group was industry performed these studies. is strengthened by the contracts
to analyse a number of specific After long discussions, the these suppliers, notably Tetra
packaging waste streams. Of opposition of milk carton Pak, have negotiated. In these
course, this procedure relied producers was broken, and the contracts, delivering filling
heavily on information from polycarbonate bottle was taken equipment, service, and packag-
industry. Together with the fact into account into this study. The ing are closely interrelated.
that the SVM acted as a represen- results, made public in December
A second barrier was that GE
tative of the whole product 1995, were in favour of the poly-
Plastics could not launch its
chain, and thus internalised carbonate bottle. Subsequently,
product on the market single-
possible differences in opinion one dairy producer has intro-
handedly. Their first attempt
between members of industry. duced the bottle. However, it
to enter the product chain
This gave SVM a strong position sees the bottle not as an
consisted of negotiations with
in the process. As mentioned alternative to the milk carton,
individual dairy producers. This
above, environmentalist groups but as a substitute for the
was not successful. In a second
and consumer organisations reusable glass bottle.
try, they formed a network,
decided to join forces in order to
Analysis which served as an alternative
counterbalance this position.
The outcome of this case is a to a part of the existing product
They managed to generate
clear example of eco-design. It is chain. This network, of which
detailed independent informa-
important to note that, at least they formed the hub, consisted
initially, the ecological effects of of producers of the bottle and
Based on the information the polycarbonate bottle, as the filling equipment producers.
collected, parties started negotia- well as the milk carton that it In addition, consumer organisa-
tions on possible reductions of tions were drawn into the



network, as they promoted the PVC packaging PVC and PVC packaging are
bottle. In addition, through their members of the Dutch
The second case concerns
alliance with environmentalist Association of Chemical
packaging made from polyvinyl
groups, the attractiveness of the Industry. Apart from this
chloride (PVC). This material
bottle for dairy producers was association, there are no close
was developed after the Second
increased. In the end, one dairy links between the first and
World War, and has since found
producer joined the network. second part of the product chain.
a great number of applications.
The network also contained a
One of these is the use as pack- Due to the fact that PVC is used
company which is able to recycle
aging material. With the right as a packaging material for a
the material of used bottles.
supplementary substances, it has great variety of food products,
A third barrier was the role of characteristics which make it the next phase of the product
the SVM. Although it existed useful for packaging food for chain consists of a great number
before the period under study, longer periods. of companies operating in differ-
it developed into an important ent sectors of industry. This part
The product chain
coordination mechanism within of the product chain shows a
the product chain as a result of In the Netherlands, PVC great variety of actors. For our
governmental interference. It granulate, the raw material of discussion, the Association of
should be noted, however, that which PVC products are made, Retailers (CBL) is an important
the SVM does not deal with milk is produced by two companies. organisation, as it had virtually
packaging, but is involved in the One of these, LVM, ended its all food retailers as members.
total packaging chain. Members activities in 1989. The other This market also has a clear
of this organisation have an company, ROVIN, is a joint leader in the retailer Albert
interest in products that are on venture of two companies Heijn.
the market rather than potential (Akzo Nobel and Shell). These
Consumers of food products
products (such as the poly- companies produce the raw
are thus confronted with PVC
carbonate bottle). Thus, the SVM materials necessary to produce
packaging. In this part of the
is essentially motivated to search PVC, ie. ethene and chlorine. In
product chain, the Consu-
for improvements in existing addition to the PVC produced
mentenbond, a consumer
products. When the SVM was by ROVIN and LVM, the PVC
organisation with over half a
allowed to perform eco-studies processed in the Netherlands
million members, is important.
on a number of products, was obtained through import.
Consumers dispose of the
initially this resulted in a choice There are several companies packaging material through the
for existing products only. Only which produce PVC film, the normal waste system, where it
as a result of fierce opposition basic material necessary to ends up in incinerators or is
from consumer and environmen- produce PVC packaging. One of dumped on waste sites.
talist organisations, in addition the more important ones in
to lobbying by GE Plastics, was Eliminating PVC packaging
Holland is a subsidiary of the
the polycarbonate bottle taken In 1989, consumer organisations
German chemical multinational
into account. In summary, the and environmentalist groups
Hoechst AG. Often, these
SVM acted as a stalling mecha- focused their attention on PVC
companies mould the film into
nism on the introduction of new packaging. Their consumer-
packaging, which is sold directly
products such as the polycarbon- oriented actions received
to the producers of the products
ate bottle, due to its its imple- considerable media coverage.
to be packed. Otherwise, this
mentation of agreements with They gained momentum with the
film is sold to companies that
the Environmental Ministry, publication of a research report
have their own capacity to
of the National Institute for
produce the packaging to pack
Public Health and the
their products. Most of the actors
Environment (RIVM), which had
involved in the production of



found high amounts of dioxins in also did not include companies

the milk of cows grazing in the involved in the retail and user … Albert Heijn
neighbourhood of an incinera- phase of the food packaging
tion facility. Scientists as well as product chain. The Steering decided that it
environmentalist groups claimed Group issued two reports, and
that PVC, mostly from packaging, acted as an information and would be best to
in the waste stream was respon- discussion forum for its
sible for the emission of dioxin
by the incinerator. This was not
members, as well as a lobbying
device towards the national
try and replace
the first time that the ecological
effects of PVC became subject to
government. In this capacity, the
Steering Group was successful in
PVC packaging
public, as well as political,
discussion in the Netherlands. As
preventing a legal ban on PVC
packaging proposed by left wing
with other
a result, two initiatives emerged. members of Parliament.
The first initiative involved As the producers of PVC and
companies producing PVC and
PVC products. These firms were
PVC products were trying to
close ranks, a second initiative
A first motive
to a great extent part of multi- developed. The market leader in
national companies, operating the retailing part of the product for this decision
on international markets. As a chain, Albert Heijn, decided that
result, they were confronted it would be best to try and was the
with negative publicity in other replace PVC packaging with other
countries as well. The rising materials. A first motive for this consumer-
negative image of PVC interna- decision was the consumer-
tionally led these companies to
form the Steering Group PVC and
oriented actions of environmen-
talist groups and consumer
the Environment. Its goals were
to assemble all information on
organisations, as well as the
discovery of dioxin in milk from
actions of
the ecological effects of PVC and cows. In addition, Albert Heijn
PVC products, and to decide on had, for a number of years, been
an action plan based on this confronted with health related
information. The Steering Group problems with PVC. Finally, this groups and
did not aim to involve companies company was involved in the
throughout the product chain. development and implementa- consumer
Instead, it saw itself as a study tion of a ‘green’ strategy.
group devoted to assembling
In a meeting of the Association organisations,
relevant scientific data, which
of Retailers (CBL), Albert Heijn
could be used to decide on
future actions. It was explicitly
suggested a ban on PVC as well as the
packaging. As a result, the CBL
acknowledged that this could
include the elimination of
formulated a Code of Conduct discovery of
for its members, stating that
certain products made of PVC.
Thus, while the Steering Group
within a year from December
1989, all PVC packaging should
dioxin in milk
consisted of actors active in
different phases of the product
be eliminated. The CBL
subsequently coordinated the
from cows.
chain, for instance producers of
activities necessary to implement
the raw material chlorine were
this Code. It helped their
not willing to participate in the
members approaching suppliers
group. Significantly, the Group



via a questionnaire, stating the consumers, combined with

A new Code of Conduct and asking political attention. This co-
them if they could replace the ordination mechanism exceeded
coordinating packaging within this period. Due the product chain under
to this concerted action, after discussion, as it contained firms
mechanism one year, almost all PVC packag- involved in the production of
ing had been replaced. Thus, different PVC products. Another
emerged: the even before the Steering Group
had been able to present its
characteristic is that it covered
different phases of the product

Steering Group action programme, food retailers

banned PVC packaging from their
chain (ie. production of PVC and
production of PVC products, as

for PVC and the shops. Individually, Hoechst did

try to convince CBL that this was
well as production of one of the
raw materials). A last characteris-
an unwise decision. Other tic was that, although the empha-
Environment. members of the Steering Group, sis was on the collection of
afraid that their products would information, there was an
This was be linked to the eliminated PVC explicit attempt to formulate
packaging, turned away from this common goals and action plans.
clearly a result attempt.
This organisation was new in
Analysis the sense that it provided a
of pressure In this case, companies in the perspective not on one phase of
production part of the product the product life cycle, but the
from consumers, chain initiated a project aimed at total life cycle instead. This was
integrated chain management. reflected in the membership of
combined with They actively collected informa- the group: different phases were
represented. However, it could
tion on the ecological effects of
political PVC, and discussed the actions be argued that the Steering
Group was both too broad as
that could be taken to minimise
attention. those effects. It is clear from the
lobbying activities performed by
well as too narrowly focused.
This follows from the fact that
the Steering Group that the it broke down when pressure was
initiative was defensive in the increased. When the retail phase
sense that alternatives to PVC of the product chain decided to
were not taken into account. replace PVC packaging, the
However, this defence proved to companies directly involved (ie.
be ineffective for PVC packaging, producers of this product) were
though. The Steering Group left to themselves. Thus, the
could not prevent actors in the Steering Group was too broad in
retail part of the product chain incorporating different products,
eliminating PVC packaging. which did not want to become
associated with the elimination
With respect to the often
of a PVC product. On the other
mentioned need for cooperation,
hand, the membership of the
this case provides an interesting
Steering Group was too narrow:
contrast. First of all, a new co-
because the retail phase was not
ordinating mechanism emerged:
represented, its decisions were
the Steering Group for PVC and
not related to activities in the
the Environment. This was
production phase of the product
clearly a result of pressure from



Secondly, an existing cooperative

organisation was activated: the
percent of the PVC piping
systems produced in the
This shows
Association of Food Retailers Netherlands is covered by six
(CBL). In this case, it played an companies, of which WAVIN, the power of
active role in coordinating the Draka Polva, and Dijka are the
implementation of the strategy of most important. Together, these one part of the
its members towards their suppli- six companies form the
ers. This shows the power of one Federation of Plastic Piping product chain
part of the product chain over Producers (FKS). Interestingly,
other parts; essentially, the deci-
sion of one company, which used
these companies all produce
piping systems from alternative
over other
an existing coordinating mecha-
nism to use the leverage of its
plastics as well. In addition to the
members of the FKS, there are
competitors, was sufficient to some small companies operating
replace a product which had been in the market. essentially,
used extensively for decades.
A significant characteristic of this
product chain is the close link
the decision
each of the main producers of
PVC piping systems
PVC piping systems has with a
of one
PVC piping is a product which
single PVC producer. WAVIN is
is used widely in the Netherlands,
50% owned by Shell, while Draka company…
both in sewage systems and in
Polva and Dijka are subsidiaries of
water supply systems in buildings.
Alternative products, such as
Solvay and the LVM respectively. was sufficient
The retail phase of the product
piping systems made of other
plastics, steel, and concrete, have chain consists of wholesale to replace a
only a modest market share. traders specialised in building
Due to the elimination of PVC material. Piping systems form product which
packaging described in the only a minor part of their trade.
preceding section, actors in the The installation of PVC piping had been used
product chain for PVC piping systems takes place in building
systems acknowledged the need projects. In this part of the
product chain, architects,
to undertake action. They were
urged to do so by several societal
actors, which thrived on the
building companies, and
contractors are active. Between
for decades.
successful elimination of PVC them, decisions on what materi-
packaging. The fact that plastics als to use are made. These actors
used in building projects were work together on a project basis.
subject to the aforementioned Developing an economically
policy paper on the prevention feasible recycling system
and re-use of waste was an
WAVIN, the main producer
additional incentive.
of PVC piping systems in the
The product chain Netherlands, has a long experi-
The first phase of the product ence with recycling some of its
chain is identical to the one products on a commercial basis.
described in a previous section. In reaction to the attention given
The second phase is the produc- by societal actors, this company
tion of piping systems. Eighty decided to develop a system for



collecting used piping systems. techniques. As a result of this piping systems. They found
For them, this was the next step coordinated initiative, an support in a life cycle assessment
in a corporate strategy aimed at economically feasible recycling (LCA), in which alternative
extending the recycling experi- system was developed. Further- piping systems were compared.
ence to all its product groups. more, the three leading compa- PVC was not considered to be
This strategy was also based on nies developed products (piping the best option, even when re-
an in-house comparison of the systems) in which the recycled cycling was taken into account.
ecological effects of PVC piping material could be used again. Environmentalist groups have
systems and alternative systems. used these results in consumer
There are some additional factors
According to WAVIN, this oriented actions, trying to
that have contributed to this
comparison led to recycling of influence them to use those
successful initiative. Parallel to
PVC as the best option. This alternatives. Until now, they
the activities in the product
choice is based on the considera- do not seem to have been
chain, the Environmental
tion that PVC has no inherent successful. They have also co-
Ministry started a discussion on
ecological problems, while its operated with small firms which
waste from building sites. Among
price/quality performance tried to enter the piping systems
the results of this discussion was
exceeds that of other materials market by claiming that they
a ‘letter of intent’ between the
used in piping systems. The provided a ‘green’ alternative
Environmental Ministry and the
opposition by Greenpeace and to PVC piping systems.
FKS. In this agreement, the
national environmentalist groups
Environmental Ministry stated Analysis
to the use of chlorine clearly
that it would promote the re- In terms of the typology
shows that WAVIN’s choice was
cycling initiative by forbidding developed in section two, the
a contested one.
the dumping or incineration of outcome of this case can be
Based on its experience, WAVIN used piping systems. Thus, the characterised as an example of
concluded that a recycling supply to the recycling system integrated chain management
system would have to be devel- was secured. focussed on material recycling.
oped in cooperation with other The fact that this outcome could
In a similar vein, producers of
producers. Only cooperation be established is due in the first
PVC piping systems started initia-
would make it possible to place to the fact that an existing
tives within the product chain
recover the used material coordinating organisation in the
for adapting the quality norms
necessary for an economically product chain, the FKS, could be
that were used throughout the
feasible recycling unit. The FKS, used to implement this idea. The
building sector. These norms did
chaired by WAVIN, became the FKS takes on a new activity in
not allow for the use of reused
coordinating unit of the system. the form of organising the
material, and thus provided a
The members agreed to work collection of used piping
barrier towards the system and
together in the collection of systems, as well as coordinating
products developed by the FKS
used PVC piping systems, urging the first steps in R&D necessary
and its members.
their customers to return used to make recycling possible.
material and waste from building It is important to note that,
although successfully judged by The initiative is strengthened by
sites. Also, the three leading
its own goals, the recycling governmental actions. Making
companies agreed to develop a
initiative was not welcomed by use of the wish of the
recycling unit which would also
several societal actors. Environmental Ministry to get
process the material recovered
Environmentalists argued for the some result in the prevention
by the three smaller companies.
elimination of PVC because it and recycling of waste from
In addition, there was an agree-
contained chloride. After the building sites, their well organ-
ment between the three leading
elimination of PVC packaging, ised initiative was welcomed by
companies to exchange
their main target became PVC the Ministry, and indeed used in
knowledge on different recycling



the formulation of rules which this would form a direct threat to

further strengthen this initiative. PVC producers. In addition, this For eco-
Together, this strategy makes the substitution would further under-
recycling of PVC piping systems a mine the image of PVC. This was design and
dominant alternative to both the one of the reasons why PVC
existing product and alternative producers have developed close integrated
products. links with companies such as
At first sight, it is puzzling why
WAVIN and Dijka. The fact that
these companies were also
companies that produce alterna-
tives to PVC piping systems do
producers of alternatives is thus
only an additional lock on the
not react by stimulating the
substitution of PVC piping
demand for these alternatives
which is created by public
systems. to be
pressure. Although difficult to
calculate, it seems reasonable to Dealing with networks of
expect that such a strategy would
involve less costs than developing
stakeholders: lessons to actors must
be learned
a recycling system and new prod-
ucts. Two characteristics of the The cases described above shows be able to
organisation of the product chain clearly that diminishing the
seem responsible for the ecological effects of products is make as well
outcome. not just a technical challenge.

First, although there was substan-

The successful introduction of a
‘greener’ product, and improving
as break
tial public pressure to substitute
PVC piping systems, consumers
the ecological performance of an
existing product implies that
networks of
did not exert that much pressure
actors have to deal with a large
on the producers of PVC piping
number of interested parties. stakeholders.
systems. Retailers were the link
The connections between these
between the producers and the
parties can be of great influence
actors involved in the installation
on the probability that ‘green
of piping systems. These actors
product’ initiatives are successful.
were mainly motivated by price,
In this section, some general
and prefered to be able to use
conclusions are drawn. In addi-
existing building material and
tion some lessons from the cases
techniques rather than change
will be derived. Some of these
towards a ‘green’ alternative.
apply to companies, others apply
Although there were exceptions
to governmental agencies and
to this rule, they were small
societal actors interested in steer-
consumers, and thus could not
ing the activities of companies.
put pressure on the retailers.
Making and breaking networks
At least as important was a
of stakeholders
second feature: the close link
between producers of piping In one sentence, the thrust of
systems and manufacturers of this paper is that for eco-design
PVC. As piping systems were an and integrated chain management
important application for raw to be successful, actors must be
PVC, and if producers of piping able to make as well as break
systems would stop using PVC, networks of stakeholders.



In order to successfully develop existing network must be altered

In order to and introduce a new product, a or replaced. As the stakes of the
company must make a network parties in the existing network
successfully with suppliers, customers, in may be high, they can form
order to be able to provide a considerable opposition, such as
develop and feasible alternative to an existing the SVM did in the milk packag-
product. The milk packaging case ing case. With respect to PVC
introduce a illustrates this point. The same
goes for integrated chain
piping systems, the existing
network was instrumental in

new product, a management initiatives: the re-

cycling of a product involves a
developing the recycling of PVC
piping systems, but it was equally

company must number of parties which need

to be actively involved in the
successful in shifting attention
away from substituting those
development phase. These systems.
make a network observations are similar to those
Lessons for companies
concerning product development
with suppliers, and improvement in general.
The lessons for companies can
be divided into two categories:
Specifically for ‘green’ products,
customers, in the involvement of environmen-
those related to dealing with
actors in the product chain, and
talist groups is essential.
those related to dealing with
order to be able Involving them in the network
can be a valuable asset.
governmental agencies.

to provide a This is not to say that such

A first lesson concerns the eco-
design strategy. The activities of
networks should always include
GE Plastics show that, operating
feasible every actor in a product chain. As
the three cases show, choosing
as an individual company dealing
with the direct customer of the
alternative members of the network care-
fully is important. Excluding
new product (in this case, the
polycarbonate milk packaging) is
powerful parties, such as retailers
to an existing in the PVC packaging case, makes
not successful. A new product,
especially packaging, consists of
the network ineffective. On the
product. other hand, building a network
an interrelated set of elements,
including a range of different
across different product chains
actors. Thus, apart from the dairy
can lead to undesired outcomes,
producers, retail organisations,
as the breaking down of the
consumers, and plastics recyclers
Steering Group ‘PVC and the
are involved. When a company
Environment’ shows.
wants to provide a feasible alter-
As important as the making of native to an existing product, it
networks is, breaking networks should form a network of actors
of stakeholders is equally impor- that can break the existing
tant. In both eco-design and network of companies that is
integrated chain management, connected with the ‘old’
there is an existing network of product.
companies, consumers, and
The recycling case shows that
related organisations, that is
such a network is not only
connected with the product.
important in eco-design, but also
Improving that product, or
when integrated chain manage-
substituting it, implies that this
ment is introduced. WAVIN



made use of the existing network did not participate in the

of producers in order to be able discussion groups, for it thought
One of the
to develop a economically feasi- of the milk bottle primarily as a
ble recycling system. A similar marketing project. Their involve- important
conclusion can be drawn when ment in later on came just in
looking at the way in which time to include their product as lessons to be
PVC packaging was eliminated. an alternative in studies that
Here, retailers succeeded in would prove to be crucial in learned from
collectively putting pressure the decision made by dairy
on their suppliers. producers. the case
Dealing with governmental Figure 1 summarises these
agencies that seek to steer lessons. studies is
companies into the direction of
eco-design and integrated chain
management provides threats as
Lessons with respect to
that such
well as opportunities to
companies that want to initiate
· form a network as an organisations
alternative to the existing
such activities themselves. The
opportunity lies in the fact that
product chain can be an
· be aware of possibilities
the involvement of the govern-
ment can provide a stimulus for
within the existing chain
to mobilise defence
other companies to participate in
the collective activities that were · be aware of governmental
initiatives that can attract
above described as necessary. In
addition, through altering market
constraints, government can Lessons with respect to
influence the success of a certain
initiative to a great extent.
integrated chain management:
of initiatives
· make use of existing
On the other hand, governmental coordinating organisations throughout a
initiatives to coordinate activities · a material is too broad as
of companies can provide a
threat, as they tend to mobilise
a focus for integrated chain sector, but
defensive coalitions. In addition,
when such coordination is
· do not exclude powerful they can also
parts of the product chain
initiated, and is intended to lead
to some sort of collective plan, be an effective
then the companies involved will Figure 1: Lessons for companies
not be inclined to undertake lobbying
action before the content of such Lessons for governmental
a plan is clear. This can result in agencies and societal actors mechanism,
substantial time loss, especially Parties interested in steering
when the product is discussed as companies towards ‘green’ aimed at
part of a broader category of products have to deal with two
products (ie. milk packaging in
the discussion on packaging
issues. The first issue concerns stalling such
the instruments they have to
waste). An important lesson in
this respect is to be involved in
influence companies. As the
elimination of PVC packaging
such initiatives. GE Plastics first shows, mobilising market



pressure is a powerful tool in the government, these parties would

Rather than hands of environmentalist discuss and negotiate how to
groups. To a certain extent, decrease the ecological effects of
looking for governmental agencies have that the product in question. Often,
power as well through their own the Environmental Ministry
ways in which procurement departments. This would take existing coordinating
instrument was used to some organisations in a sector as a
all interested extent with respect to PVC
sewage systems. It should be
starting point; involving the SVM,
and the FKS are a case in point.

parties should noted that this does not involve

costly negotiations with the
One of the important lessons to
be learned from the case studies

be involved in companies involved; the market

mechanism is used to exert
is that such organisations can be
an effective diffusion mechanism
influence on companies. This has of initiatives throughout a sector
an initiative, the additional advantage that (ie. the FKS, and CBL), but they
companies cannot protest against can also be an effective lobbying
government the very mechanism of which mechanism, aimed at stalling
they so often present the virtues. such diffusion (ie. the SVM). This
should look for A related instrument, which is
implies that initiating coordina-
tion can turn against the party
only open to governments, is to
actors in a alter market constraints. By
who wants to steer companies
towards greener products.
banning certain kinds of prod-
product chain ucts, or raising their price, the Translated into a lesson, this
alternatives to ‘green’ products means that rather than looking
who can, can be put in a disadvantageous
position. This instrument was
for ways in which all interested
parties should be involved in an

because of used by the Environmental

Ministry to increase the feasibil-
initiative, government should
look for actors in a product

their market ity of the recycling of PVC piping

systems. Although effective, this
chain who can, because of their
market power, force other actors
instrument has the disadvantage in the direction of product
power, force of being a limit on the function- substitution. The way in which
ing of the market mechanism. the Environmental Ministry
other actors in This rules it out as an acceptable stimulated the recycling of PVC
tool in certain countries, piping systems is an example of
the direction especially if used on a large scale. this strategy. If, however, a
governmental agency provides
In the three cases, the main
of product instrument used by the
the opportunity for all actors to
discuss possible avenues for
Environmental Ministry is to
substitution. initiate coordination of the
product substitution, complex
discussions, and eventually
activities of companies. Indeed,
negotiations can result. This
one of the main purposes
process slows down activities
presented in the policy paper
that are being developed,
on the prevention and re-use
because it actually organises the
of waste was to bring together
defence of the status quo. The
companies and societal organisa-
case of the polycarbonate bottle
tions that had a stake in a certain
is an example of this chain of
product. Under supervision of



A final instrument, again available implies that product recycling of

to governments only, are rules. food packaging, such as the poly- References
While the actual application of carbonate milk bottle, will never
Boons, F.A. (1995). Produkten in
this instrument is difficult, time replace disposable packaging. As
ketens. (Products in chains).
consuming and politically this part dominates the product
Tilburg: Tilburg University Press.
contested, the credible threat of chain, it is able to aim at Phd. thesis.
formulating this tool can be an improvements which have an
important stimulus to help optimal cost benefit structure for Boons, F.A. (1996). Sustainable
companies to accept the use of them. Again, there is a possible Technological Change: The
the other instruments. improvement from the existing Interlock between Policy and
Interfirm Networks.
situation, but whether it is truly
Apart from the issue of what
environmentally sustainable is Cramer, J. (1996). ‘Experiences
instruments are available, an
questionable. with implementing integrated
equally important point is the
chain management in dutch
issue of how companies can be Especially problematic is the fact
industry’, pp. 38-47, Business
steered into the direction of that the mechanisms that seem
Strategy and the Environment,
truly sustainable activities. to be the ones that are effective
vol. 5.
Although the three cases all and acceptable (market pressure
show successful instances of and initiating coordination) are VROM (1988). Preventie en
either eco-design or integrated at the same time not suited to hergebruik van afvalstoffen.
chain management, it is not give a specific direction to the (Prevention and re-use of
evident that these initiatives are companies at which it is waste).
optimal when evaluating them to directed. This issue in the end is
some criterion of environmental the responsibility of a govern-
sustainability. For instance, the ment: it should weigh the
recycling of PVC piping systems advantages of helping a company
is an improvement from the initiating change towards a
existing situation, but serious greener product, or forcing this
doubts remain whether it is not company to use its coercive
more environmentally sustain- power to steer this activity in a
able to replace PVC with another direction that is sustainable from
material. More or less the same the perspective of society,
applies to the milk packaging instead of from the perspective
case. The strong position of food of an individual company. Figure
retailers in the Netherlands 2 summarises these points. •

Figure 2: Lessons for

· Enabling market pressure is an effective and non-contested way governmental agencies
of moving towards environmentally sustainable products
· Initiating coordination can mobilise innovation as well as defence
to change
· Involving existing coordinating organisations can be efficient, but
usually they imply a certain outcome, thus they are effective only
in a certain direction
· Rules are effective as a threat to actually put them to use
· Networks of actors do not necessarily produce the most
environmentally sustainable outcome.



Ecologically sound coffee machine concept design

Yellow Design and Yellow Circle

Yellow Design and Yellow Circle has designed a modular coffee machine
which in its basic form is a stand, an electric water boiler and a removable
filter. A hot plate, timer and other equipment may also be added.

The water filter is positioned so that the filter and coffee pot, mug or cup
sits directly under it, thus enabling the use of one’s own dishes with the
standard unit. The machine can be converted by the addition or omission
of various inserts to serve as tea maker or even baby food warmer.

The modular design of the unit means that any connections, screws and
joints may be dissembled for ease of repair and maintenance, giving
the machine the potential of an extended life span and cost-effective
repairability. Material saving design and modern technology also ensure
a positive energy balance in manufacture and use.

In addition, the design concept ensures the product is appropriate

to the various demands made upon it, such as multi-purpose use, different
environments and the use of different personal catering accessories.

The coffee machine was awarded a Design Distinction in the ID

The coffee machine is designed to 43rd Annual Design Review in the category ‘Concepts’.
allow for the water filter to be positioned
above the coffee pot, mug or cup Yellow Design and Yellow Circle are design consultancies based in
Pforzheim and Cologne, Germany, respectively and headed by Professor
Günter Horntrich. For further information contact Frank Wuggenig
on +44 181 390 7682.

right: The modular unit is detachable

to facilitate refilling from the tap

far right: The hot plate may be used

generally or as a baby food warmer



Hippo Water Roller

The Hippo Water Roller Trust, South Africa

Access to water in rural communities

and developing countries is the most
basic human need. Millions are forced
to walk many kilometres daily to collect
and carry their water requirements for
the day, a task normally performed with
much difficulty by women and children.

The Hippo Water Roller is a water

container designed to transport larger
quantities of water than was possible
using traditional methods with ease over
difficult terrain. Water buckets for
instance, often weighing up to 20kg,
would be carried on the head. This skill
developed from an early age causes
suffering, requires much energy and algae growth. The design of the clip-on of life’ by having access to larger
results in severe health consequences steel handle provides the ability to quantities of water, with improvements
such as the early ageing of the spine. properly control the roller on inclines, in hygiene, cooking and subsistance
The roller enables 4 to 5 times this declines, and over rocky terrain. Finally, farming as a result. To date approxi-
quantity to be conveniently rolled on with its large water capacity and the mately 20,000 people have benefited
the ground rather than carried. mechanical rolling action, the addition of from the Hippo Water Roller project in
water purification powder into the barrel South Africa alone.
The roller has been tested extensively at the start of the journey back from the
in the field. The large opening has a water source, creates clean water . Further information and pictures can be
water-tight lid which allows for hygienic viewed at the following WWW URL:
storage and easy cleaning of the drum. By using the roller, communities are
It is important to prevent unhealthy empowered to enhance their ‘quality

Traditionally, water buckets weighing

up to 20kg are carried on the head.



The Recyclability Map:

application of
demanufacturing complexity
metrics to design for
Burton Lee is completing a PhD in Burton H Lee and Kosuke Ishiin
Mechanical Engineering at Stanford
University. His studies examine Doctoral Candidate and Associate Professor,
applications of artificial intelligence Department of Mechanical Engineering, Design Division,
to product life cycle design, with an
applied focus on systems diagnosis and
Stanford University, US
knowledge engineering. He holds an AB
degree (Physics & Economics) from
This paper discusses the develop- Introduction
Brown University, and MS degrees in
ment and validation of a new design
Mechanical Engineering and Industrial ecent regulatory and
Engineering from Stanford. He is a
Daimler-Benz Fellow and recipient of
analysis tool – the Recyclability
Map – and associated recycling R industrial product retire-
ment initiatives mandate firms
complexity metrics which are
the 1998 US Department of Energy proving valuable in the early to optimise product designs
Integrated Manufacturing Fellowship. identification of product sub- for environmental impact, in
assemblies with recyclability addition to customer-driven
Dr Kosuke Ishii is Associate Professor
enhancement opportunities. The performance requirements
in Mechanical Engineering at Stanford
Recyclability Map combines sort (Allenby, 1993). European prod-
University. His research interests
complexity and scrap rate informa-
embrace product life cycle engineering uct take-back regulations (Beitz,
tion available to the designer at an
and robust design for quality. He serves 1993) and Japanese recyclability
early stage in the design process.
as chair of the ASME Computer and laws (Hattori and Inoue, 1992)
The map helps designers optimise
Information in Engineering Division, and recyclability by highlighting sub- impose a tight focus on ‘design
is also associate editor of the Journal assemblies where appropriate for recyclability’ (DfR) objec-
of Mechanical Design (ASME) and material selection and disassembly tives, utilising appropriate
Artifical Intelligence in Engineering re-designs can reduce scrap rate materials selection strategies
(Elsevier). His various awards include and disassembly costs. Rigorous (Ishii et al, 1994). Common to
the National Science Foundation (NSF) use of the tool also promotes traditional ‘design for environ-
Presidential Young Investigator Award, improved communication and ment’ (DfE) approaches is a
the Lucent Foundation Industrial knowledge exchange between designer-centric viewpoint
product designers and recycling
Ecology Faculty Fellowship, and the GM that emphasises design phase
organisations. Research contribu-
Outstanding Long Distance Learning planning for post-life product
tions include development of the
Faculty Award. Dr Ishii obtained his BS disposal (Ishii et al. 1992; Marks,
sort bin scoring metric to model
(Mechanical Engineering) from Sophia et al. 1993).
the impact of variable recycling
University, Tokyo, holds Masters process technologies in demanu- This paper analyses the perspec-
degrees from Stanford (Mechanical facturing, and elaboration of the tive of the corporate recycling
Engineering) and the Tokyo Institute of Recyclability Map approach. Re-
organisation (CRO) that oversees
Technology (Control Engineering), design of inkjet printer sub-assem-
and executes enterprise de-
and completed his PhD blies for improved recyclability is
manufacturing operations. An
(Mechanical Design) at Stanford. used as a validation example.
advanced CRO assesses and



performs recycling operations

for the firm’s product families
and generations (Ishii et al.,
1995). In contrast to product
design organisations, the CRO raw materials
maintains a broad, global view of manufacturers dealer user
product retirement and recycling
processes (Figure 1). parts
landfill or
From the CRO’s perspective, the recycling organisation incineration
product recycling and retirement
process is highly variable and is
generally unknown to the prod-
uct design team. Research has
identified three important
sources of external uncertainty
in demanufacturing process Figure 1: Design method focusing on demanufacturing process
· advancements in recycling design improvements, and 2) · recycling process and
process technologies compare the effects of demanu- technology variations and
· ‘country to country’ disparities facturing process variability on advances
in recycling processes design recyclability optimisation. · incomplete requirements,
· variability in timing of product The map combines sort design and impact data.
retirement. complexity and material
recovery efficiency (scrap rate) Regulations and industrial
In contrast, traditional designer- metrics, helping designers standards are additional
oriented DfR approaches assume improve the system-level examples of enterprise-external
a static, homogeneous, recyclability through appropriate factors that also impact product
controlled and well-known material and modularity configuration and materials
recycling process environment. selection strategies. A Hewlett selection decisions.
Current DfR optimisation meth- Packard inkjet printer case study
Variable timing of product
ods thus fall short in accounting illustrates practical use of the
for factors outside the control of Recyclability Map.
Academic DfE research assumes
the product designer. This can
that products are retired exclu-
make effective advance planning
for product retirement extremely Uncertainty in design sively near the end of their
for recyclability useful life, when the customer
upgrades or discards the item.
The authors leverage the CRO Robust DfE approaches mandate
Stanford’s investigations,
viewpoint to propose a new designers to optimise product
however, reveal that the timing
framework that partitions DfR recyclability for highly variable
of product retirement can occur
assessment metrics around two ‘end of life’ context factors
at any point in the product life
core concepts: product-independent outside the manufacturer’s
uncertainty and product-dependent control. Significant sources of
such product-independent A recent case study developed
complexity. This approach
with Hewlett Packard (HP)
motivates development of the uncertainty which are frequently
demonstrated that many HP
Recyclability Map, a design phase encountered in DfR analysis
inkjet printer products are
chart which can be used to 1) include:
retired within weeks of their
identify and validate sub- · variability in the timing of
manufacture date due to excess
assembly-level recyclability product retirement retail inventories, customer



returns, and wholesaler After-sale product units are Two critical data ‘holes’ are
overstocks returned directly to exposed to a variety of demanu- noteworthy:
the manufacturer for disposal, facturing processes across · future disassembly and sorting
reconditioning or spare parts national boundaries, between process costs
extraction (Jeon, et al., 1997). recycling organisations, and over
· materials compatibility,
Corporate and independent time. Table 1 suggests a taxonomy
environmental impact, and
recycling organisations perform for ranking recycling processes
processing cost data.
full or partial disassembly of according to the level of tech-
relatively new, unused products, nology employed. ‘Level 1’ Typically, if and when such data
together with disassembly of processes are those which becomes available, it arrives too
older products at the end of their employ essentially no special late in the design, and is often
useful life. Thus, the timing of separation and reconstitution difficult to use. Because the
product demanufacturing can technologies; at the high end of demanufacturing process occurs
vary greatly for some product the scale, ‘Level 5’ processes are in the future at many diverse
classes. the most technically sophisti-
locations, it can be difficult to
Recycling process and cated, such that no advance
design to known disassembly
technology uncertainty separation is required. Traditi-
processes and costs. The absence
onal DfE research assumes that
The technical sophistication of adequate process, materials
products face only one level of
of locally available recycling and environmental impact data
recycling technology.
processes strongly determines introduces additional uncertainty
the depth of product disassembly Incomplete product and as to the recycling optimality of
and sorting required. The degree environmental impact data a particular design. Ideally, DfR
to which a particular recycling Significant segments of the methods should generate useful
process can handle different industrial product design evaluative metrics under
types of plastics, for example, community are concerned about conditions of high product-
dictates the level to which increasingly stringent DfR independent uncertainty, and
plastics must be separated for requirements in the face of with minimal data collection
colour, filler content, and other persistent incomplete product and analysis.
characteristics. and environmental impact data.

Level Characteristics Process description Disassembly and sorting

1 Unsophisticated recycling Each part is sorted into its Maximum disassembly and sorting
own bin, regardless of material required
content High cost retirement process

2 Function-based recycling Combine similar parts into the Intermediate disassembly and
same sort bin, based on part sorting

3 Material-based recycling Each material is sorted into its Intermediate disassembly and
own sort bin, regardless of part sorting

4 Material family recycling Combine some different Minimum disassembly and sorting
materials into the same sort bins required

5 Advanced recycling Combine all materials into one No disassembly, sorting;

technology sort bin Lowest cost process

Table 1: Technology levels of recycling processes



The disassembly reverse

fishbone diagram
To encourage design engineers complete product
to incorporate recyclability, the
authors have defined the reverse
serial Component A
fishbone diagram as a graphical disassembly end fate 1
representation of the product
disassembly process (Ishii and
Lee, 1996) (Figure 2).
Construction of the diagram
or disassembly tree motivates
designers to ‘walk through’ the
demanufacturing process and
Assembly Y parallel
end fates 1–4 disassembly
optimise the design for efficient
disassembly. The disassembly
tree illustrates the demanufactur-
fully disassembled
ing process sequence, major
steps, and component ‘end
fates’; increased depth and
breadth of the tree corresponds
to higher disassembly complexity
and cost. Figure 2: Reverse fishbone disassembly tree

Although the reverse fishbone

diagram has proved effective for bly required when recycling a In general, more sort bins
improving the recycling modu- product or reusing parts. High indicate deeper levels of disas-
larity of a single product model, sort complexity entails greater sembly, higher material count,
it falls short of helping designers disassembly costs and therefore and lower parts commonality.
generate effective recyclability the designer must pay greater A good DfE modularity strategy
ideas in material selection and attention to disassembly and should lead to fewer sort bins
assembly designs for product materials complexity. for a given level of recycling
families and generations. process technology.
The ‘number of sort bins’ is the
principal sort complexity metric, In theory, any given product
Demanufacturing where a ‘sort bin’ is defined as can be sorted into one, a few or
complexity metrics any distinct post-sorting end fate many sort bins, depending on
or destination for a product, the level of recycling technology
Sort complexity module, sub-assembly or employed. A highly sophisticated
Sort complexity captures infor- component. Examples of sort bin recycling technology (eg.
mation about the difficulty and categories include ‘scrap’, ‘ABS’, ‘Process Level 5’, Table 1)
cost of the disassembly process ‘steel’, and ‘motors’. The sort bin requires only one sort bin, since
as influenced by the following metric is easy to understand and the recycling process is capable
design-independent variables: readily estimated by the of taking in and separating all
· level of recycling technology Corporate Recycling Organi- component materials. On the
employed (Table 1) sation (CRO). When considered other hand, sending the entire
· level of product reuse and in the context of the reverse product to scrap (requiring
re-manufacture. fishbone diagram, the number landfill or incineration) also
of sort bins corresponds to the requires a single ‘scrap’ sort bin.
Sort complexity strongly number of different ‘end fates’ It is assumed that the ‘scrap’ bin
influences the level of disassem- for all the leaves on the diagram. is the least desirable option



among all possible sort bins not reward or penalise particular and material recovery efficiency
because it is environmentally material classes or materials metrics. Combining these
most harmful. When particular selected by the designer; all metrics into an intuitive graphi-
materials require costly handling, materials are assumed to be cal representation facilitates
such as toxic or radioactive broadly equivalent in ‘goodness’ quick trade-off analysis for
materials, those sort bins should or ‘badness’ ranking from an design improvements at the sub-
receive negative weightings or environmental perspective. Note assembly level, without
cost penalties. Other ‘usual’ sort that materials complexity and placing heavy burdens on the
bins are ranked approximately compatibility concepts are designer for extensive data
equivalently. meaningful only insofar as the analysis. Sort bin count serves as
available recycling technology a proxy model of the effects of
Materials complexity
is unable to fully process all alternative recycling technolo-
Materials complexity generally
materials in a non-disassembled gies and processes, allowing
refers to the number of materials
state. designers to roughly compare a
utilised in a component, sub-
single design under alternative
assembly, or product. It is deter-
recycling process technology
mined during the design phase The Recyclability Map assumptions.
and plays an important role in
Recyclability map
determining disassembly deci- Information required to
sions and total recycling cost. construct the map
The Recyclability Map is a design
Depending on the particular The Recyclability Map plots the
chart for the early identification
context, the materials complex- sub-assembly sort bin ‘score’
of sub-assembly level modularity
ity metric may be extended to against its scrap rate.
and disassembly and materials
account for the following Construction of the map (Figure
selection re-design strategies that
additional distinctions: 3) requires layout design infor-
support reduced recycling costs.
· number of material classes: the mation and recyclability assess-
Used in concert with the reverse
number of different material ments provided by designers and
fishbone diagram, it promotes
classes strongly influences the recycling experts. First, the ‘end
robust advance planning of
materials complexity of fate’ of major sub-assemblies and
disassembly and sorting
components and assemblies. components must be identified;
processes in the face of highly
Broadly, we can group materi- this requires prioritisation of
variable product-dependent and
als into the following product maintenance, parts
product-independent influences.
categories: plastics, ferrous and reuse, recycling and regulatory
It is most useful during the
non-ferrous metals, paper and compliance goals by designers
layout design phase, when
wood, hazardous materials, and life cycle support entities.
alternate materials and configura-
and other. Analysis of product service and
tions are under consideration.
· materials compatibility: some teardown reports is one method
In addition, the map supports
combinations of materials may of assessing part fates using
tracking of DfR re-designs for
not be processed together historical data.
sub-assemblies performed over
during recycling. This is a Sub-assembly scrap rates (x-axis
the history of a product plat-
strong function of the current coordinates) are estimated based
form, and thus can serve as a
level of recycling technology, on the percentage of total parts
system-level tool to track and
as mentioned before. sent to landfill or incineration.
compare recyclability improve-
· materials requiring special handling: ments across product families A low scrap rate is preferable,
materials that are difficult and generations. indicating a high material recov-
and/or very costly to handle. ery efficiency for a module. The
The Recyclability Map derives its
authors assign equal weighting
In its simplest form, the analytical power from the unique
to all parts in a module by using
materials complexity metric does use of simple sort complexity



clusters of sub-assemblies should

be noted, along with their
position on the map. As the
6 design progresses, the map is
Region 2 Region 4 updated to reflect sub-assembly
re-designs. Design improvements
5 • sub-optimal design • highly sub-optimal design
• low–med scrap content • high scrap content may shift a sub-assembly to
• med–high sort content • high sort complexity/cost
successive locations and regions.
4 Interpretation of Recyclability
decreasing Region 4
scrap rate Map regions and paths
Analysis of Recyclability Map
decreasing sort patterns requires an understand-
complexity/cost Region 3 Region 3 ing of how the map regions,
2 sub-assembly re-design paths
Region 1 • sub-optimal design
and re-design costs relate to
• optimal design • high scrap content the underlying design space. The
• low scrap content • low–med sort content
1 • low sort content initial x-y coordinates of a sub-
0% 20% 40% 60% 80% 100% assembly suggest material selec-
scrap rate (percentage of total parts, excluding fasteners) tion and disassembly strategies
for recyclability optimisation.
Design improvements – reduc-
tions in scrap rates and/or
material or sort complexity –
Figure 3: The Recyclability Map and its regions move sub-assemblies between
regions (Figure 3, Table 2) along
re-design paths or trajectories
simple part counts that exclude Recyclability Map requires early (Figure 4, Table 3).
fasteners. communication between design- Region 1, characterised by low
ers and recycling organisations. scrap rates and low sort costs, is
Sub-assembly sort complexities
Understanding the range of optimal for all sub-assemblies.
(y-axis sort bin count) are typi-
possible recycling process Ideally, all sub-assemblies should
cally assessed by the CRO based
technologies which are likely fall in – and move towards –
on design team materials and
to be employed is essential. this region. Here, the product
configuration choices. For each
module or sub-assembly, the Construction of the requires only minimal disassem-
CRO identifies the total number Recyclability Map bly and sorting, such that only
of sort bins required during tear- one or two sort bins are
Using the derived scrap rates and
down, removal, and disassembly. required, and close to full
sort bin scores, the designer
Sort bin count serves as a proxy material recovery is achieved.
plots all product sub-assemblies
metric for disassembly and sort In practice, however, Region 1
against the map’s x-axis and y-
cost; high sort bin scores are is difficult and costly to reach.
axis. If the current product is an
sub-optimal because they imply iteration or version within a Region 4 is highly undesirable
larger demanufacturing costs. product family or generation, for all sub-assembly designs
Sort bin counts can vary the designer can estimate x-y because here they evidence high
significantly, depending on the coordinates on the current map scrap rates and high disassembly
recycling process, recycling starting with previously gener- and sorting costs. Recyclability
technology and regulatory ated Recyclability Maps for improvements to Region 4 sub-
environment assumed. related products with similar assemblies are achieved through
Successful use of the modules. Emergent patterns and scrap rate reductions (shift left,



Recyclability characteristic Design optimality Designer actions

1 High material recovery rate Optimal design Move all subassys towards this
Low disassembly and sort costs Zero penalty region, via Region 2.

2 Medium-low material recovery rate Sub-optimal design Move sub-assemblies towards

High disassembly and sort costs Moderate penalty Region I. Move away from Region 4.

3 Low material recovery rate Sub-optimal design Move sub-assemblies towards

Low disassembly and sort costs Moderate penalty Region 2, and if possible, towards
Region I. Move away from Region 4.

4 Low material recovery rate Highly sub optimal design Move all sub-assemblies out of,
High disassembly and sort costs Large penalty and away from, this region.

Table 2: Regions of the Recyclability Map

towards Region 2), a reduced

sort bin score (shift down,
N towards Region 3), or concurrent
Region 2 Region 4 adoption of both strategies (shift
‘southwest’, towards Region 1).
Type I Transfer of a sub-assembly
re-design paths towards Region 2 is essentially a
materials selection decision; a
Type II
re-design path downward shift towards Region
3 implies easier disassembly, a
reduction in materials complex-
Region 3
ity, or change to a more sophisti-
Type I paths cated recycling technology.
Most product sub-assemblies
typically fall into Region 2 or
Region 3. Region 2 sub-assembly
Type II re-design path designs initially evidence low
Region 1
1 scrap rates and high material
0% 20% 40% 60% 80% 100% recovery efficiencies. The recy-
scrap rate (percentage of total parts, excluding fasteners) clability of these sub-assemblies
can be improved through further
starting design improved design 2nd generation design increases in the recovery rate
(shift left) and/or reduction in
sort complexity and cost (move
Figure 4: Re-design paths for sub-assemblies
Region 3 is where many sub-
assemblies begin. Module designs
in this region are characterised
by low material recovery rates
and low sort complexity and
cost. Ideally, Region 3 sub-



Re-design path Characteristics Feasibility & cost

Type I Re-design for Region 2 in short term Incremental redesign

Target Region 1 over successive product generations Easier to achieve for single models
Low-moderate cost redesign

Type II Re-design for Region 1 Major re-design required

Difficult to achieve within a single
product generation
Higher cost re-design strategy

Table 3: Classes of sub-assembly re-design paths

however, might gradually pursue

a Type II trajectory over several
re-design generations.
Once a strategy for DfR improve-
ments to a particular sub-assem-
bly has been decided, the reverse
fishbone diagram can help
designers to quantitatively verify
reductions in disassembly times
and sort bin count. The re-
design analysis thus iterates
between progressive versions of
the reverse fishbone disassembly
tree and the Recyclability Map.
Figure 5: Hewlett Packard 855C inkjet printer

assemblies should seek to move (Figures 3 and 4) are not

Application example:
directly towards Region 1; in rigorously specified, and may analysis of inkjet printer
practice, however, they will typi- be shifted. recyclability
cally move first towards Region The Recyclability Map was
Re-design paths of Type I move
2, since contemporary recycling developed by Stanford graduate
a sub-assembly through Region 2
processes are not sophisticated student researchers during
before moving to Region 1
enough to support concurrent recyclability re-design of a
(Figure 4, Table 3). These paths
scrap rate reduction and sort Hewlett Packard (HP) 855C
are typically easier to achieve
complexity minimisation. inkjet colour printer (Figure 5).
within a typical design project,
As a rule, the designer should and are less costly than Type II The printer is a high production
prioritise design improvements paths. Type II re-design paths volume, moderately complex
for Region 3 and 4 sub- move a sub-assembly from its electromechanical device that
assemblies. Recyclability gains current design region directly utilises materials ranging from
achieved from re-design of these towards Region 1. These paths are commodity thermoplastics to
sub-assemblies are likely to be high cost, and as such are costly special purpose metal
substantial compared to Region difficult to achieve for a single alloys. Because it is sold princi-
2 sub-assembly re-designs. product. Successive generations pally in the US and Europe,
Inter-region boundaries shown within a product family, designers must plan for a broad



variety of disassembly and recy-

6 cling process scenarios.
Region 2 Group A assemblies: Region 4
• low scrap content
• med–high sort bin count
Application of the Recyclability
5 Map analysis methodology to the
PCA/power supply
printer yielded two major groups
of sub-assemblies for further re-
I/O tray design analysis (Figure 6). Group
Group B assemblies: A assemblies (Region 2, upper
• high scrap content
• low–med sort bin count
left) included the input/output
(I/O) tray, logic board printed
case fan
assembly assembly mech 1 circuit assembly (PCA), power
supply and external case hous-
service station assembly ing; evidenced a high recovery
Region 1 Region 3 carriage assembly
rate in their original design,
0% 20% 40% 60% 80% 100% along with a moderate sort bin
scrap rate (percentage of total parts, excluding fasteners) count. Group B assemblies
(Region 3, bottom right)
Figure 6. Recyclability Map for the HP 855C Printer consisted mainly of parts to be
scrapped – the paper feed
module (‘Mech 1’), fan assembly,
service station assembly, and
carriage assembly – and accord-
ingly were assigned low sort bin
For the I/O tray (Figure 7), the
re-design path suggests potential
improvements by reducing the
associated scrap rate and sort
complexity (Figure 8). This can
be achieved through appropriate
material selection (enhancing
material recovery) and a reduced
sort bin count. The team cut the
number of plastic materials from
three to one (all ABS), and
improved the disassembly
process by changing fastening
methods. The new design
achieved a reduction in sort
bin count from four to three,
reduced scrap by 50% (from
nearly 35% to less than 15%),
Figure 7: Printer input/output paper tray based on part count, and
decreased disassembly time by
At an early point in the project,
when relatively little data was
available, the chart successfully



weighting; thus a spring and

Region 2 plastic housing are considered
equivalent in this scheme.
5 I/O tray Weighting by mass, volume
re-design and/or material type/class might
4 path provide more accurate estimates
of assembly scrap/recovery rates.
3 PC –> ABS, blue ABS–>ABS: Simple fasteners are excluded
• reduce scrap content from part counts (ie. weighting =
• decrease sort bin count
ø), as they can bias certain
classes of sub-assemblies towards
Region 1 the left side of the map (lower
1 scrap rates), depending on the
0% 20% 40% 60% 80% 100%
scrap rate (percentage of total parts, excluding fasteners) type of fastener material
employed. Functional modules
Figure 8: Re-design path for printer paper tray are equally weighted as well,
such that actuator assemblies and
identified areas of sub-assembly parts reuse and recycling is static load-bearing structures
level improvement and essential. In the worst case, the (such as housings) are counted
generated specific materials designer should consider all as equivalent. This may restrict
selection candidates. The student reusable parts as candidates for comparisons between sub-
team was unable to generate removal. assemblies.
these ideas using the reverse
In its current form, the
fishbone disassembly tree alone.
Recyclability Map assumes equal Conclusions
The map was generated using weightings are assigned to all
This paper introduced the
data provided by the HP sort bins, parts and functional
Recyclability Map as a new
Hardware Recycling Organisation modules. This has the advantage
design tool for the early
(HRO), an HP product retire- of simplicity, but may introduce
identification of product sub-
ment facility which demanufac- distortions into the model that
assemblies where appropriate
tures HP printers. Collaboration could be corrected through
material selection and part re-
with the HRO was essential and differential weightings. Our
designs can increase material
illustrated the benefits of early current sort complexity
recovery efficiency and reduce
communication between design- approach explicitly assumes that
disassembly costs. We began
ers and recycling experts. most sort bins are approximately
with a description of demanufac-
equally desirable, ie. we do not
turing metrics useful in repre-
ascribe formal penalties or
Limitations of the senting product-dependent
weightings to particular bin
complexity and product-
Recyclability Map classes. Where particular
independent uncertainty. The
The utility of the Recyclability materials require special, costly
paper then described the
Map depends on the data avail- handling, such as toxic or
Recyclability Map, and how it is
able to the designers, and the radioactive materials, those sort
used together with the reverse
extent of analysis required. bins should probably receive
fishbone to perform DfR trade-
Successful use of the map cost or environmental penalty
off evaluations. The HP inkjet
depends on prior knowledge weights, while other ‘normal’
printer study illustrated the
of the fate of all parts for each sort bins can be ranked
practical application of the
sub-assembly analysed. equivalently.
Recyclability Map.
Understanding the current and In using part counts, all parts in
The map is useful as a guide
projected market demand for a module are assigned equal
to assembly-specific re-design



changes. It provides a basis for

planning of incremental product References
recyclability design improvements,
Allenby, B.R., ‘Design for Environment: A Tool Whose Time Has Come’,
and for assessing the effects of
in SSA Journal (September 1991), pp. 5-10.
externally-driven demanufacturing
process variability. Beitz, W., ‘Designing for Ease of Recycling—General Approach and
Industrial Applications’, in Proceedings of The Ninth International
Feedback from industry indicates
Conference on Engineering Design (ICED), August 1993, The Hague,
that the Recyclability Map is Netherlands, pp. 325-332.
effective in the following DfR
tasks: Hattori, M., and H. Inoue, ‘Concept of Ecofactory’, in Proceedings of
the 1993 IEEE/Tsukuba International Workshop on Advanced Robotics,
· early identification of recycla-
Tsukuba, Japan, November, 1993, pp. 3-8.
bility improvements at the
sub-assembly level Ishii, K., Eubanks, C.F., and M. Marks, ‘Evaluation Methodology for Post-
· advance planning and tracking Manufacturing Issues in Life-cycle Design’, Concurrent Engineering:
of recyclability improvements Research and Applications. Vol. 1, 1992, pp. 61-68.
across product families and Ishii, K., Eubanks, C., and P. Di Marco, ‘Design for Product Retirement and
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· assessment of product designs 233.
under alternative recycling
Ishii, K., Lee, B., and C. Eubanks, ‘Design for Product Retirement and
process technology environments.
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ASME Winter Annual Meeting Symposium on Life Cycle Engineering,
The Recyclability Map
November 1995, San Francisco, CA. ASME MED-Vol. 2.2, pp. 921-933.
motivates and supports early
communication and collaboration Ishii, K. and B. Lee, ‘Reverse Fishbone Diagram: A Tool in Aid of Design
between product design teams and for Product Retirement’, in Proceedings of the 1996 ASME Design
CROs. • Technical Conference, August 1996, Irvine, CA. ASME Paper 96-

Acknowledgments Lee, B. and K. Ishii, ‘Demanufacturing Complexity Metrics in Design for

Recyclability’, in Proceedings of the 1997 IEEE International Symposium
This article is based on a 1996–1997 on Electronics and the Environment, May 1997, San Francisco, CA.
research collaboration between
Stanford and Hewlett Packard’s Lee, B,. Rhee, S., and K. Ishii, ‘Robust Design for Recyclability Using
Vancouver Printer Division (VCD). Demanufacturing Complexity Metrics’, in Proceedings of the 1997 ASME
The authors would like to thank Design Engineering Technical Conference, September 1997, Sacramento,
CA. ASME Paper 97-DETC/DFM-230.
Don Bloyer of VCD and the HP
Hardware Recycling Organisation Jeon, H., Lee, B. and S. Rajagopalan, ‘HP 855C Color Deskjet Printer:
for their assistance with the inkjet Design for Environment, Design for Service’, Final Report for Course
printer design project. The National ME217B, Department of Mechanical Engineering, Stanford University,
Science Foundation Environ- Spring Quarter 1996.
mentally Conscious Manufacturing
Marks, M., Eubanks, C., and K. Ishii, ‘Life-Cycle Clumping of Product
Grant DMI-9528615, and the Air
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Force Office of Scientific Research Design Theory and Methodology Conference, Albuquerque, New Mexico.
provided critical funding support. ASME DE-Vol. 53.
This article is a revision of a paper
first presented at the 1997 IEEE
International Symposium on
Electronics and the Environment,
May 1997, San Francisco, CA.



Dr Joseph Fiksel, Senior

Director, Strategic
Environmental, Health and
Safety Management, Battelle
Memorial Institute (US)
Martin Chartern
Joint Coordinator, The Centre for Sustainable Design, UK

Dr Joseph Fiksel is Senior Director of What are the key you have something to offer that
Battelle’s Life Cycle Management organisational issues when will not interfere or obstruct
group, which helps clients achieve integrating eco-design? their work, but will in fact
both sustainability and profitability by augment the value of what they
irst we need to look at the
incorporating life cycle thinking into
their business processes. Dr Fiksel has
F way that most businesses are
organised at the product devel-
are doing.
What I have found with many
over 20 years of consulting experience design organisations, is that indi-
opment or product realisation
in a variety of industries, including viduals generally acknowledge
level. For eco-design to be prac-
chemicals, electronics, automobiles, that it makes good sense to
tised successfully, it is imperative
consumer products, and energy. develop a green design. They
that it is adapted to the existing
Previously he was Vice President at are not oblivious to the concept.
‘gate’ processes that many firms
Decision Focus Inc, and he also founded However, they are under very
now utilise. It involves not only
the Decision and Risk Management tight constraints in terms of cost,
understanding how the process
group at Arthur D Little, Inc. He schedules and customer require-
operates from a procedural point
began his career at DuPont of Canada. ments. Some designers, on their
of view, but also understanding
Dr Fiksel is active in a number of own individual initiative, may
the culture of the product devel-
professional organisations, including incorporate eco-design innova-
opment community. What we
the US Technical Advisory Group for tions which comply with the
have found historically is that
ISO 14000. He holds a BSc in Electrical design requirements. However,
eco-design has been driven by
Engineering from MIT, a PhD in it is unusual for eco-design to
champions who are outside of
Operations Research from Stanford, be systematically incorporated
that community. Product design-
and a graduate degree in Applied into the product development
ers and developers tend to be
Mathematics from La Sorbonne, process. The owners of the
arrogant, and are generally
Paris, France. As a recognised expert process tend to be general
talented and creative individuals,
in risk analysis, Dr Fiksel has testified managers of divisions and vice
with strong engineering skills.
before Congressional and White House presidents of product develop-
They tend to be suspicious of
committees. He has published ment, engineering, or marketing
anyone offering help, as well as
extensively, and is the principal author people who establish customer
anyone seeming to complicate
and editor of Design for Environment: needs. A lot of the traditional
their busy lives. So the challenge
Creating Eco-Efficient Products champions of eco-design have
is to achieve acceptance by
and Processes. attempted to develop design
demonstrating that you under-
stand their constraints, and that checklists or other kinds of



tools, and then deliver them tools to support the rapid pace
It does not to the designers, assuming that of activity, eg. in a matter of
the tools would be accepted and days, designers can go through
require a highly implemented. Frequently, they many alternative designs and
fail to do the ground work in variations. You cannot afford to
academic terms of establishing an organi- go through the quantification
sational role for these tools. exercise if you don’t acknowl-
analysis to The designers will only use edge where the uncertainty is.
these tools if they are required I think we have a long way to
drive a lot of to articulate certain eco-design
attributes as part of the ‘gate’
go in terms of the tools,
however I believe that very

eco-design process. simple tools are adequate at this

time. It does not require a highly
Do you feel that the first
academic analysis to drive a lot
concepts. generation eco-design tools
of eco-design concepts. The
have been appropriate for
concept development stage is
The concept product designers?
As an example, I have worked
where the most fruitful work
can be done. Once the product
development closely with Johnson Wax,
helping them to establish their
requirements have been estab-
lished, there are far fewer
stage is where ‘design for an eco-efficiency’
programme. I am very familiar
degrees of freedom, although
one can influence material
with the constraints within
the most fruitful which their designers have to
selection and other decisions,
that incrementally improve the
operate. What they discovered
work can was their designers were
product’s performance.

concerned about adopting tools There are some interesting eco-

be done. that would interfere with their design R&D projects going on,
but rarely is eco-design being
work and ‘slow down’ the
process. It was felt that it would integrated into the mainstream
‘cost’ many hours and weeks of product development process.
labour in order to achieve a I think that many of us in the
result which was of dubious environmentally conscious
value. That is why Johnson community are impatient for
Wax decided to de-emphasise the integration of eco-design.
rigorous life cycle assessment I personally believe that we
(LCA) tools and to work with cannot force the issue, although
a more streamlined approach. we can do research,
Many companies are moving demonstrate, and persuade.
towards this kind of approach You really have to wait for the
and I personally think that the market to articulate its needs,
first generation of LCAs are far and I think that market aware-
too cumbersome. I think LCA ness is going to be slow to
should be used as more of a emerge, although in Europe it
background activity which appears to be growing more
develops a platform for product rapidly than in the US. You will
evaluation. In the development find that the decisions made by
phase, you need much simpler domestic consumers, as well as



industrial customers, will I think Xerox is an excellent

continue to be determined by example. They started an asset There
cost, quality and performance recovery programme long before
first. A good eco-design will product ‘take back’ was even are some
be fourth on the list of require- a threat, and they have done
ments. However, this need will a very good job in market genuinely
become increasingly well articu- positioning, while achieving
lated as people become better customer retention and a high progressive
educated and more aware of quality image.
environmental issues. So I think
it’s a gradual trend and we need
What would you say are the companies that
characteristics of the model
to be patient; it won’t happen
overnight. It’s really a cultural
eco-design management are dominant in
system? Could you answer
revolution. Some leading
companies have actually
with particular reference to their markets,
the importance of eco-design
chosen to try to educate their
consumers. There are some
Let me take the second, first
either first or
genuinely progressive companies
that are dominant in their
because I think that metrics are
absolutely essential, and in fact,
second in
markets, either first or second in
market share, and are confident
that they are not taking undue
until recently, I have noted that
metrics were lacking from many
market share,
of the eco-design schemes.
risks by encouraging eco-design.
You have to admire that because
Designers live and breathe and are
metrics. That is the only way
it is purely a voluntary initiative,
many of the followers, particu-
they can evaluate the quality and confident that
acceptability of their work, so
larly in the US, will wait until
the regulations are imposed, and
they want specific measures. they are not
They prefer to have them
then they will emulate the best
practises that they see in the
expressed in terms of targets,
because designers are not very
taking undue
The whole concern about
interested in interpreting the
desires of the marketplace.
risks by
product ‘take back’ is something They want their marketing and
that industry has been aware of management team to do that.
as a coming trend. But those They want very precise
companies who have chosen to specifications, so the metrics eco-design. You
implement ‘design for disassem- need to be developed. I think
bly’ or other kinds of product
‘take back’ are companies that
there has been a lot of good have to admire
work done in this area and I
want to be ahead of the ‘curve.’
Instead of waiting for these
think today there is a well that because
established literature of viable
requirements to emerge, they’ve
attempted to create a more
metrics that support the broader
environmental attributes of
it is purely
rational approach to life cycle
design for their products and in
product design.
a voluntary
Many companies have developed
the process the’ve been able
to improve their profitability.
useful metrics that characterise initiative.



their product’s life cycle perfor- What do you think are the the product definition. There are
mance and include things such as key challenges of sustain- not many companies that are
durability and reusability, ability for product develop- prepared to wrestle with the
recycled fraction, ‘end of life’ ment and design? sustainability of their products,
impacts, energy consumption, We have begun to work with a especially in the US. I have
and modularity (looking at the number of companies that are observed that the few companies
lifetime of platform versus the trying to expand the scope of who practice this approach are
product components). In fact I their eco-design to include better informed, and tend to be
found that one of the best not just eco-efficiency but also very willing to spend time and
sources of metrics is the German understanding of the social energy on educating their
Blue Angel Scheme. They do a impact of products. It’s a very stakeholders.
good job of highlighting specific interesting field, requiring new Interface, the floor company, is a
engineering-oriented product disciplines that have not existed good example, but unfortunately
attributes. I think that if you take in the past, when we have dealt they are an anomaly. I think that
a given product and examine its strictly with the eco-efficiency they will have few imitators
environmental aspects across the aspects. What we have done is because they represent a bold
life cycle, it is very easy to estab- try to develop an understanding strategy. The only reason that
lish the appropriate metrics. of the cause-effect relationships. Ray Anderson, CEO and owner is
Now to the first question. I will When you develop, distribute willing to embark on this move
take an extreme position and and put a product in the market- towards sustainability, is because
say that, to me, the model place. For example, do you he is a completely self-assured
eco-design management system create jobs, do you shift individual. He has nothing to
is one in which the word ‘eco- economic power, do you lose at this point, as he is a self
design’ does not appear at all. enhance communication, do you made person, so he is willing to
When these concepts are fully enhance mobility? There are a march into this unexplored
integrated and embedded, they whole variety of societal impacts terrain. Most executives are
will no longer have to be high- which are part of sustainability. paranoid about their vulnerabil-
lighted as a separate issue. I think Not just for producers, but the ity to being let go if short term
that there are examples of this. If entire socio-economic sphere performance goals are not met.
you look at software for may be affected. Unfortunately in the US we
instance, there was a time when We have discussed the impa- generally have a rather myopic
incorporating software into tience of the environmental perspective at the senior
products was somewhat unusual, community, and I think that management level. They are
but it was a technology that sustainability is the next genera- really not thinking about
could be grafted onto an existing tion issue. I think we still have a sustainability on a 10–20 year
process. Nowadays, in most lot of ground to cover just in time frame. •
durable products, software is a establishing eco-efficiency
valued and integral part of the concepts as an integral part of
total design.



Strategic marketing
of greener products
Jacquelyn Ottman & Virginia Terryn
President of J Ottman Consulting Inc, US; and
Researcher in Sustainable Design at the The Surrey
Institute of Art & Design, UK

Jacquelyn Ottman is the president and In order to significantly reduce of product take-back schemes.
founder of J Ottman Consulting Inc. environmental impacts, ‘greener Experience with these and other
based in New York City. For the past products’ should replace their concepts forms the basis of
ten years the organisation has ‘dirtier’ products and find reliable myriad guidelines, software and
helped businesses create competitive markets. Therefore, strategic consultantcy services covering
advantage by developing and marketing marketing of ‘green products’ is a ‘Green Product Design’.
environmentally responsible products growing issue. Drawing on exam- However, there are only a few
and services. Clients include 3M, ples primarily from the US, this strategic tools for marketers of
Eastman Kodak, IBM, Interface and the article focuses on green marketing green products, and even these
US Environmental Protection Agency. strategies that have brought have evolved in an ad hoc
The second edition of her book, Green success to many companies, manner. Furthermore, greener
Marketing: Opportunity for Innovation, discusses opportunities for innova- products should replace their
has just been published. She is a tive businesses and suggests direc- ‘dirtier’ counterparts if they are
member of the American Marketing tion for the future. Additionally this to make significant inroads
Association, O2, the Product Develop- article highlights two companies, towards reducing environmental
ment and Management Association, Interface and Canon, which have impacts. For example, Fox Fibre,
and the World Future Society. incorporated successful a frequently cited example of a
approaches to green marketing. more sustainable business, has
Virginia Terry is a Researcher of inspired the green design
Sustainable Design at the The Surrey community with their naturally
Introduction coloured, certified organic and
Institute of Art & Design. Prior to
n the past decades innovative beautiful cotton fibres. But this
moving to the UK, she was responsible
for researching and writing the case I environmental managers and
product designers have made
same innovative business is
study portion of Green Marketing (2nd experiencing financial problems
edition), by Jacquelyn Ottman. She considerable progress toward because of unreliable markets.
recently graduated from the Masters reducing the environmental Green designs, and more sustain-
programme in Environmental impacts of products. Driven by able designs, will only survive
Management at New York University regulations, new technologies if there is a market for the
where she was president of Students and consumer pressure, whilst products that leading edge
for Responsible Business. Her thesis designers have focused on partic- companies have developed.
focused on management of ecotourism ular eco-aspects of products such
While strategies for successful
projects in developing countries. as increasing the amounts of re-
marketing of greener products
cycled or recyclable materials;
do exist, they are not widely
reducing in-use consumption of
known. How then, should busi-
energy; reducing material inten-
nesses that have made strides in
sity of products; and the impact
greener product design approach



Green Marketing? This article should take more positive action corporations with green
seeks to broadly address this towards the environment. procurement and purchasing
question and present useful However the same report also programmes, eg. Philips energy
examples. showed that the percentage of efficient lighting, Hammermill
Americans willing to pay more recycled office paper
for environmental products has · capitalising on service
The green consumer declined from 11% ten years ago potentials, eg. Interface
Although the green consumer to just 5% in 1996. This trend is · creating alliances to reduce the
movement has been the focus of not confined to the US. costs and risks of entering into
many recent books, research Generally, the consumer’s a new eco-innovation enter-
projects, and corporate reports, increased environmental prise, eg. GM, Ford, Chrysler
it remains an ambiguous subject. concern, and indeed his or her and US government creating an
Just what is a green consumer environmental sophistication alliance to develop advanced
(ie. should we consider does not necessarily translate battery technology for electric
consumers of phosphate-free into increased green purchasing. vehicles
detergents ‘green’ or only those Clearly, marketing greener prod-
· reinforcing a company’s
consumers who purchase deter- ucts will have to entail more
environmental position
gents made from completely than attaching a green label or
through cause-related
natural ingredients?) Is the green featuring images of wildlife in
marketing, eg. Canon
consumer willing to pay a media advertisements!
· capturing revenue streams
premium for more environmen-
through innovative strategies
tally sound products, and if so,
how much more? What percent-
Identify the opportunities which extend the life of the
resources of which a product
age of the purchasing public The demand for greener prod-
was comprised eg. the Xerox
can be identified as green ucts undoubtedly exists. So,
series of refurbished copiers
consumers? Where is the green therefore, do the opportunities
such as the ‘Eco-series’ and
consumer trend heading? to capitalise on that demand.
‘Renaissance’ model; the Green
Unfortunately, there seems to be Much of the demand will
Disk company which sells
only sketchy and inconsistent continue to be driven by regula-
refurbishes diskettes
data to answer these issues. tions as producer responsibility,
· innovating and setting new
product take-back, and recycling
The good news is that many standards of best practice
schemes evolve. As recent
reliable indicators show that eg. Arco announcing a new
history has shown, the more
consumer concern about the gasoline formula designed to
innovative companies will reap
environment has steadily sharply cut auto emissions.
benefits, and those who are
increased over the past two
radically re-thinking products
decades. For example, the 1996
and processes will be the leaders Highlight the direct benefits
Globescan Survey performed by
of the future. Opportunities to
Environomics of Canada indi- of greener products
increase the bottom line
cated that the environment is a
including: It is vital to stress the direct and
major concern for the general
tangible benefits provided by
public, and that the majority of · differentiating products and
greener design, such as energy
people see the integration of services in environmentally-
efficiency or recycled content,
environment and economy as a oriented ways that command
rather than stressing the envi-
win/win scenario. A Green brand loyalty (eg. both Ecover
ronmental attributes themselves.
Gauge Report 1996 study and Henkel phosphate free
Reducing the environmental
conducted by Roper Starch detergents, the Earth’s Best
impact of a product improves the
Worldwide (US) showed that line of organic baby food)
product’s overall performance
75% of Americans think they · capturing new market share
and quality in ways that are
among governments and



Ray Anderson, CEO of Atlanta- At Interface, education translates oped a fully compostable carpet
based Interface, Inc, a leading into profitable innovation. As of made of natural and degradable
maker of commercial carpet, 1995, the company entered a fibres, now undergoing testing.
carpet tile and other interior revolutionary new phase, and Meanwhile, the company contin-
furnishings is shepherding his raised environmental standards in ues to explore other initiatives and
twenty four year old, $1 billion the process: they began leasing technologies brought about by
company on course ‘to become carpets through a unique heightening staff awareness of
the first name in commercial and Evergreen Lease Programme. environmental management
industrial ecology worldwide.’ Under the programme, Interface issues.
Despite a product line that is actually retains ownership of its
Interface may be in the earliest
based heavily on petrochemicals, carpet tile, making itself, the
stages of its journey toward
Anderson is determined to make manufacturer, responsible for the
becoming a sustainable company,
his company a working example of maintenance, repair, and ultimate
but it is already profiting from its
sustainability and zero waste. recycling of the carpet tile. By
innovations. Thanks to QUEST, the
assuming full life cycle responsi-
Interface's first step towards company has saved over $20
bility of its products, Interface not
sustainability begins with the million by such activities as
only assures that the recycling
implementation of a three-part producing 100% post-industrial
loop will be closed, it maximises
educational programme: environ- recycled nylon carpet, improving
the potential to reuse natural
mental training for the entire work the efficiency of turnover for
resources while preventing a
force; an internal ‘EcoSense’ beams of yarn by 25%, reducing
voluminous and potentially
programme which outlines a hexane solvent usage by 16% with
hazardous source of waste from
seven front approach to sustain- the implementation of a new
going into landfills. The Evergreen
ability and focuses on resource carpet drying procedure, and
Lease is especially effective with
depletion, landfill use, pollution, reducing scrap yarn from beams
carpet tiles because only worn
and energy waste; and thirdly, at one of their manufacturing sites
tiles are replaced, thus eliminating
internal environmental by 75%.
the need to install a whole new
programme, QUEST (Quality
carpet, but providing a ‘face lift’ These, along with many other
Utilizing Employee Suggestions
that goes on theoretically as long efforts, have boosted efficiency
and Teamwork) which aims to
as the building stands. and waste reduction while lower-
increase employees' overall envi-
ing operating costs and thus
ronmental awareness at home as If Interface has its way, one day
increasing profits to the tune of
well as in the workplace. its carpeting may be not just recy-
$35 million last year.
clable but biodegradable as well.
In 1995, the R&D division devel-

important, not just to the most water supply, they have superior marketing process, for three
dedicated and loyal green taste and health benefits important reasons:
consumer, but to all consumers. compared to their counterparts. · Consumers primarily buy
For example, super-concentrated Patagonia sells outdoor garments products to meet direct needs,
laundry detergents not only save such as fleece sweaters made not the ‘save the planet’
energy and packaging, they save from recycled soda bottles. The · Consumers purchase products
end space, money and effort material has insulating ability out of self-interest. For exam-
(they are easier to carry). superior to virgin materials while ple, the top environmental
Organically grown food not only providing comparable breathabil- concern has to do with issues
better preserves soil and reduces ity. These are added values that of health. Additionally the
the amount of toxins in the should not be overlooked in the



chance to save money is Many organisations have already

Canon always appealing, as is the learned this lesson. The US
potential for self-actualisation. Environmental Protection
At Canon, a corporate philoso-
phy of ‘kyosei’ (living and work- · Businesses risk marginalising Agency’s Energy Star programme
ing together for the common their products by wrapping and logo communicates dual
good) guides the company them in a ‘green cloak’. benefits of cost savings and
toward cause-related marketing pollution prevention benefits.
that reinforces the company's To illustrate these points, The copy on the logo reads,
position as a market and envi- consider two ads for natural ‘Saving the Planet, Saving Your
ronmental leader. cleaning products, both of Money’. Similarly, ads for
which appeared in Mother Jones Addison Heat Pumps (US)
In the US it began with the
magazine (US). One ad features promises consumers that they
Clean Earth Campaign in 1990
images of flowers, complemen- can lower their heating and
which donated $1 to be divided
between the National Wildlife ted by copy that focuses on cooling bills in addition to
Federation and The Nature saving the earth. In the same minimising environmental
Conservancy for each Canon magazine was an ad for Citra- impacts of fossil fuel based
toner cartridge returned to the Solve made from d-limonene, an energy use. An ad from Kyocera
company. The five year effort extract of orange peels. The (US) announced that the ‘Savings
resulted in the recycling of latter, in contrast, contains no Just Begin with Energy Star.’
several million toner cartridges pictures of flowers or animals,
All of these ads illustrate an
along with a corresponding just a sharp, single-minded focus
important point about hte
donation. The success of the on all the tough cleaning prob-
program inspired Canon to power of green marketing: the
lems it can solve around the
deepen and enhance their enviornmental benefits rein-
home and workplace. Of course,
cause-related marketing efforts. forces overall product quality
it doesn’t completely ignore the
and as such represents a source
Among other initiatives, the environmental message. The
of ‘added value’ that can swing
company now supports copy addresses environmental
purchase decisions in a greener
‘NatureServe’, a comprehensive attributes, but the focus is on
brands favour.
programme for sharing with the other meaningful product
public The Nature Conser- benefits.
vancy's scientific knowledge Educate and empower
Another example is Rayovac
and expertise on natural
resources; and ‘Expedition into (US), which introduced the first consumers
the Parks,’ a programme with reusable alkaline battery in 1993. Consumers are concerned about
the National Parks Foundation Rayovac was well aware of their the environment but as they
to inventory and protect rare product’s environmental have become more sophisti-
plant and animal species found features, but they resisted the cated, they require clear infor-
in national parks. temptation to use soft images of mation about how choosing one
natures such as wildflower fields product over another will
These initiatives help Canon
USA, Inc. show its environmen- or waterfalls that have become a benefit the environment.
tal concern to its 9,800 employ- cliché. Instead they went Consumer education results in
ees in the Americas, and serve directly to heavy users, empha- their empowerment.
as a model to other companies. sising the products’ ability to Empowered consumers choose
The depth and scope of these save money. A secondary environmentally preferable
efforts allow Canon to promote campaign focused on environ- products when all else is equal.
their participation credibly to all mental benefits, e.g. on headline Research from the Council on
stakeholders via such vehicles announced, ‘How to Throw Office Products and the
as the PBS series ‘NATURE’ and Away 133 fewer Batteries This Environment (COPE, US) shows
ads in National Geographic. Year’. that there is a correlation



between knowledge of comput- Businesses can also project credi- The future
ers and likelihood of purchasing bility by being thorough – that
All of these factors contribute to
an energy-efficient personal is, by having a good environ-
‘business transparency’ which
computer (PC). In a COPE mental track record and by
will become increasingly impor-
research study conducted in paying attention to details such
tant as green production and
1994, consumers who considered as the use of recycled materials.
consumption evolve. Companies
themselves ‘very knowledgeable’ Businesses should also be proac-
are likely, either due to regula-
about computers were more tive. Leaders should take risks by
tion or voluntary action, to
likely to buy an energy-efficient advancing breakthrough environ-
provide their customers with
PC than those who did not mental technology or by encour-
more and more information
consider themselves to be aging their company to be the
about their product’s environ-
knowledgeable by a factor of first in the industry to sign
mental impact so that they will
three. voluntary environmental codes
be able to decide for themselves
such as the CERES principles.
if a product suits their needs.
Initiatives such as these should
The credibility factor be effectively and strategically
Wellman (US) is already experi-
menting with this notion. An
Industry credibility suffered communicated to consumers in
information tag attached to
some debilitating blows over the annual reports, in environmental
Wellman’s recycled polyester
past two decades when some reports, in stand-alone ads, and
fabric offers life cycle assessment
businesses made unsubstantiated in media presentations – so that
(LCA) findings. Additionally,
claims about environmental corporate image is enhanced and
Tom’s of Maine (US) toothpaste
achievements. Eco-labels consumer trust is gained.
tubes identify not only all of the
awarded by third parties are one
All claims should be accurate and ingredients but also each ingre-
approach to increasing credibil-
based on scientific information. dient’s purpose and source. The
ity of environmental claims.
In 1991, Mobil suggested that CEO, Tom Chappell also delivers
These are now being offered by
their Hefty trash bags would a signed letter on the side of all
governments in about 30 coun-
biodegrade in landfills, and this packages, telegraphing to
tries around the world and the
cost them thousands of dollars in consumers that a real person
Organisation for Economic
fines across seven states, not to stands behind the claims.
Cooperation and Development
mention lost credibility. The US
(OECD) has recently released a Environmental marketing
Federal Trade Commission now
report discussing their affect on presents important opportunities
offers guidelines for eight
consumer behaviour. Although for industry. Taking advantage
commonly used terms such as
eco-labels have had only moder- of them requires creativity,
‘environmentally friendly’,
ate success with individual foresight and environmental
ozone safe’ and ‘made from
consumers, they are having a commitment. It means redefining
recycled content.’ Many in-
greater impact on ‘business to the roles of business and prod-
house legal departments have
business’ and government ucts and working co-operatively
also developed their own guide-
procurement practices and with governments, consumer
lines. However, guidelines for
producers are increasingly groups and NGOs. It may also
terms such as ‘natural’ and
making use of eco-labelling mean a more visible role for
‘energy efficient’ are not avail-
schemes. Germany’s Blue Angel, CEOs. Products can certainly
able. If no guidelines are offered
America’s Green Seal, Japan’s increase the ‘quality of life’, but
for claims a company wants to
Eco-mark are all signs that their environmentally destruc-
make, it is best to be as specific
producers have opened their tive impacts must be amended
as possible. All terms should be
processes up for review, rein- if we are to move towards
qualified and answer questions
forcing their company’s credibil- sustainability. •
such as ‘compared to what?’,
ity in the eye of the consumer.
‘for how long?’ or ‘how much?’



Special feature:
eco-design websites
Edited by Iris V. van de Graafn
with additional research from Virginia Terry, Researcher,
The Surrey Institute of Art & Design, UK

The Journal of Sustainable Product Eco-design update: mailed to members' email

Design has developed a partnership web-sites around the world account.
with the O2 Global Network to further
disseminate information and ideas on
eco-design and sustainable product mindovermatter/ /CMER/
design. O2 Global Network is an Mind over Matter (MoM), Denmark The Centre for the Management of
international network of ecological MoM is a future design resource Environmental Resources (CMER),
designers. The O2 Global Network is for information and debate France
organised into national O2 groups created by Niels Peter Flint and CMER is a unit covering corpo-
which work together to provide various Sally Beardsley, and sponsored rate environmental management
services such as: O2 Broadcasts, which by the Danish Design at INSEAD. Their site includes
report live from O2 events using email Foundation. This interactive book chapters, published papers,
and the Worldwide Web (WWW); O2 website focuses on the future reports and case studies related
Text meetings, a meeting place on the and what it could be like if to issues including eco-design.
Web; the O2 WWW pages, which designers start to think 'out of CMER hosts events, conferences
provides an overview of activities; O2 the box.' The site is intended and workshops on a regular
Gallery, an exhibition of eco-products to be a platform for discussion bases, which are listed on their
on the Web; and, an O2 mailing list. and designers are invited to events page.
For further information on the above post papers, case studies and
activities and the O2 Global Network 'future scenarios.'
contact: O2 Global Network tins/grip001.htm
Tourslaan 39 GRIP Centre for Sustainable
5627 KW Eindhoven nForest/3041/linkssd.html Production and Consumption
The Netherlands Environmental Resources On-line, US GRIP is a foundation financed
tel/fax: +31 40 2428 483 This site focuses on Sustainable by the Norwegian Ministry of
O2 Global Network new homepage: Design and links to the Institute Environment. The organisation's for Sustainable Design, the goal is to increase eco-effective-
e-mail: International Journal of ness in Norwegian organisations,
mailinglist: Sustainable Development and both public and private, by
uk/lists.o2global.db World Ecology and Arcosanti, a developing, testing and market-
sustainable city designed by ing methods that strengthen
‘O2 News’ will update readers of Paolo Soleri. Another feature is their competitive situation by
the Journal on the latest eco-design Environmental Resources on- increasing the amount of value
issues from around the world and line which distributes weekly they create per unit of environ-
on O2’s national activities. environmental news and updates mental load.


O2 NEWS environmentally oriented prod- ECDMRG performs research in a

Centre for Environmental uct development. number of areas involving the
Assessment of Product and Material EcoReDesign(TM), is a national creation, use and afterlife of
Systems (CPM), Sweden research programme aimed at products. Key interests include
CPM is a national competence minimising the environmental the design of environmentally
centre at Chalmers University impact of manufactured products friendly products and manufac-
of Technology in Sweden. The and maximising their competi- turing processes, and the reuse,
overall goals are to gather and tiveness. The site also has infor- remanufacturing, demanufactur-
reinforce the Swedish compe- mation on product case studies, ing and recycling of products.
tence within sustainable product LCA, eco-design news-letters and The site leads to detailed infor-
development at a high inter- eco-design events. mation on some of their current
national level; to provide projects which include assem-
industry and society with bly/dissasembly of products for
relevant methods and support m_info.html reuse, life cycle cost models, and
for implementation of environ- Environmentally Conscious Design and eco-design guidance tools.
mental aspects in decisions Manufacturing (ECDM) Infobase,
regarding products and materials. Canada
A major project being the estab- The ECDM Infobase is hosted The Centre for Sustainable Design, UK
lishment of an on-line life cycle by the Department of Industrial Provides information about
assessment (LCA) database. and Manufacturing Systems CfSD’s core programmes and
Engineering at the University of activities in: Windsor, Ontario. This site has · sustainable product
rfac/cml/lcanet/hp22.htm a number of useful web-based development and design
LCANET European Network for links for the International · manangement of eco-design
Strategic Life Cycle Assessment Journal of Environmentally
· design impacts of environ-
Research & Development, Europe Conscious Design and
mental communications
LCANET is a network which Manufacturing including on-line
· education.
focuses its efforts on ‘state of the abstracts from the journal, the
art’ LCA methodology. The web- internet mailing list, on-line
site serves as a platform for courses and other eco-design O2 text meeting
discussion of LCA research and links.
A text meeting is a meeting using
development between European e-mail. Everybody who wants
universities, research institutes,
to join should send a message
companies, non governmental ‘Design for Environment’ (DfE)
to or
organisations and the European at Stanford University, US
subscribe on the www page:
Commission. The sites give an overview of DfE
activities in the Design Division
/~o2global/ of the Mechanical Engineering Department. During the meeting, he/she will
then receive all the contributions
Centre for Design at RMIT, Australia that are sent by the attendees
Eco-design, is one of the
ch/envmfg/ of the meeting and can discuss
Centre's core areas of activity
ideas further by sending new
and comprises several innovative Environmentally Conscious Design
messages. •
programmes and projects span- and Manufacturing Research Group
ning the policy and practice of (ECDMRG), US



ne of the difficulties in writing about ecological and sustainable
Ecological Design
Sim Van der Ryn O design is ‘scale’. Specific issues related to a particular design
project have to be understood within the context of a plethora of
and Stuart Cowan
wide ranging, interrelated issues at the global level. These wider
Island Press,
issues include the natural environment, society, culture, and human
Washington DC, USA
values. Detailed design interventions not only have to be seen against
the complex background of these broader considerations, their
201 pages contribution, significance and validity have to be made clear while
paperback edition £12:50 simultaneously being dwarfed by the sheer magnitude of the prob-
lems. Thus, contextualising ‘design’ in ecological and sustainable
terms is a precarious balancing act between the large and the small,
the general and the specific. In Ecological Design, Sim Van der Ryn
and Stuart Cowan have achieved this in a way which is scholarly,
insightful and reflective. They also write in a straightforward style,
using plain English rather than academic hyperbole, a virtue not
always evident in contemporary design writing.
The authors define ecological design as ‘any form of design that
minimises environmentally destructive impacts by integrating itself
with living processes.’ This is accomplished, in part, by bringing
together expertise from many disciplines which, traditionally, may
have rarely been associated. Ecological design, it is convincingly
argued, is an integrative and ecologically responsible approach which
‘provides a new way of thinking about design.’
The first part of the book, entitled ‘Bringing Design To Life’ provides
an overview of sustainability and design, a summary of the underlying
principles and philosophy of ecological design, and an examination
of the processes of nature and design principles which link different
levels of scale.
The foundations and meanings of ecological design and sustainability
are explained clearly and concisely without resorting to ‘doom and
gloom’ statistics and scenarios. While the destruction caused by our
present practices is fully acknowledged, the general tone is positive,
forward-looking and inspiring. And so rooted in basic common sense
(or perhaps uncommon wisdom) that it is humbling to realise that we
have become so self-oriented, apathetic and/or short-sighted that our
approaches to design, business and life in general are so out of kilter
with what we ought to be doing.
The meaning of sustainable development is much richer and much
more unsettling than meeting ‘the needs of the present without
compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own
needs.’1 In fact, the ‘technological sustainability’ implied by ‘Our
Common Future’, from which the above quote is taken, is, thank-
fully, given short shrift by Van der Ryn and Cowan. Their approach is
both refreshing and much more profound, going to the heart of our



crisis and locating its roots and its solution in the an approach which takes into consideration the
human condition – in human values, human rela- ‘whole;’ an approach which, potentially, would
tionships, and knowledge and understanding of overcome many of the flaws in our hitherto
place and nature. The work of David W. Orr is fragmented processes and procedures, and which
referred to in summarising the characteristics of would start to integrate our actions with the
ecological sustainability. These characteristics natural environment.
include a recognition of the fallibility and limita-
The second part of the book, entitled ‘The
tions of people – factors which seem to be less
Ecological Design Process’ begins with a design
willingly acknowledged in the ‘technological
example, the ‘compost privy’. This example is used
sustainability’ approach. Human scale, local initia-
to illustrate the authors’ five principles of ecologi-
tives and traditional knowledge are other essential
cal design:
ingredients, together with a recognition of nature
· solutions grow from place – designs should be
as ‘the best model we have for all the design prob-
locally appropriate rather than being based on
lems we face’.
standardisation and centralisation.
In reading some of the observations in this book, · ecological accounting informs design – in
with well considered and juxtaposed examples, the conventional design economic costs are carefully
foolishness of our current ways of doing things
analysed, in ecological design environmental
becomes only too clear. ‘Design’ is identified as a
costs also have to be carefully analysed.
central ingredient because it is the manifestation of
· design with nature – by incorporating natural
an epistemology, of ‘what is most valued in our
processes the environmental impacts of our
culture.’ It is our cultural values and concomitant
designs can be significantly reduced.
‘myopic design’ which have led to our present
predicament, and so it is cultural values and design . everyone is a designer – involving the community
which have to change. and listening to people, as part of the design
process, breaks down the traditional distinctions
The authors describe ecological design as ‘a form of
between designers, clients, users, etc.
engagement and partnership with nature that is not
. make nature visible – design can be conducted
bound to a particular design profession. While
in ways which allow people to be aware of the
we’ve often done well in applying design
processes and this encourages mindfulness and a
intelligence to narrowly circumscribed problems,
sense of responsibility.
we now need to integrate ecologically sound tech-
nologies, planning methods, and policies across
Each of the last five chapters of the book is dedi-
scales and professional boundaries.’
cated to a discussion of one of these five design
A brief history of the development of ecological principles. ‘Solutions grow from place’ includes a
design is followed by a consideration of nature’s discussion of sustainability in traditional cultures,
processes and ‘scale linking’. The interconnected- the value of local knowledge and the importance of
ness across scales, which occurs in nature, is used designing for place. There are many astute observa-
as an organising principle for considering ecologi- tions, which again and again call into question our
cal design. The argument is made that much of our current approaches to, and pace of, design educa-
present crisis is a result of this organising principle tion and design practice:
being ignored. Interventions such as storm drains,
‘Local knowledge is best earned through a
instead of natural drainage, sewage treatment
steady process of cultural accretion.’
plants instead of utilising wetlands, and the use of
imported rather than indigenous materials, are just ‘Humble local acts, each respecting the whole
a few of the examples given to illustrate how our web of life, add up to a sustainable culture.’
ways of thinking, and our ways of designing, work
The subsequent chapters are peppered with
against rather than with nature, and tend to ignore
numerous examples which illustrate alternative
connections between the levels and scales within
approaches to design and, explicitly and implicitly,
the environment. A strong case is made for
challenge our conventional techniques and
reassessing our approaches to design and adopting



References This is a thought-provoking and inspiring book which clearly articu-

1 Our Common Future – The World lates the ethos of design for a sustainable future. However, if you are
Commission on Environment and looking for a ‘how to…’ manual for ecological design then this book
Development (Oxford University
isn’t it. In fact, read this book to find out why there can never be a
Press, Oxford, UK, 1997, page 42).
‘how to…’ manual for ecological design – to produce such a book
would be to continue what the authors term ‘dumb design.’
© 1997, MIT Press Journals. Reprinted with permission from Stuart Walker,
the ‘Design Issues’ journal and MIT Press Journals, MA, USA. The original
review appeared in Design Issues, Volume 13, 3 November (Autumn 1997).

he major new ‘Challenge of Materials’ gallery at London’s Science
‘Challenge of Materials’ gallery
Science Museum T Museum is a celebration of strange (and often beautiful) material
qualities, an exploration into the make-up of materials, and a show-
case for their uses, often outlandishly presented. The exhibits range
from a spectacular glass bridge to a wire wedding dress and an
inflatable, rubber, lip-shaped seat. As well as focusing on the materi-
✆+44 (0)171 938 8080
als themselves, the exhibition grapples with the environmental impli-
Open every day 10am – 6pm cations of their production, use, reuse and eventual disposal, bringing
Adult admission £5.95 together the material world and environmental responsibility.
The ‘Challenge of Materials’ gallery was recently voted Design Week’s
Gallery of the Year 1997. As a permanent gallery, it plays a key role in
furthering the Science Museum’s main aim, increasing the public’s
understanding of the history and contemporary practice of science,
medicine, technology and industry. The Museum has approximately
1.5 million visitors a year.
One of the major exhibits in the new gallery which examines the
environmental implications and issues surrounding materials is a
touch screen ‘interactive’ computer-based exhibit which challenges
visitors to design a T shirt, with minimal environmental impact. The
visitor is invited to make design decisions at six steps within the life-
cycle. He or she firstly selects a fibre type for their T shirt and then,
by choosing from a range of predetermined options, continues their
selections through dyeing, printing, laundering (washing and ironing)
to final disposal.
The interactive exhibit is based on research undertaken by the
Museum by the Textiles-Environment-Design project at Chelsea
College of Art and Design, London, UK. The project’s aim was to raise
awareness of environmental issues surrounding textile production,
use and disposal. Furthermore, the ‘Interactive’ aims to challenge
commonly held preconceptions such as the belief that natural fibres
necessarily cause less environmental damage than synthetic ones, and
it seeks to show that environmental impacts, associated with the
entire life of a textile garment, have to be considered.
The ‘Interactive’ is based on an abridged life-cycle study, which
focused on the six stages mentioned above in relation to three fibre



types: cotton, polyamide (nylon) and viscose, which represent the

contrasting groups of natural, synthetic and regenerated fibres. The envi-
ronmental impacts resulting from the study were numerous and involved
highly complex inter-relationships of resource use, energy consumption
and waste emissions. These impacts had to be translated into simple
concepts without trivialising key issues, as the average Science Museum
audience is aged between 8 and 12.
The result is a fun, five minute journey through the life of a T shirt which
concludes with a part qualitative, part quantitative environmental assess-
ment of the T shirt design. The assessment does not directly compare the
environmental credentials of the varying fibre types, but attempts to
communicate the enormously wide-ranging impacts associated with textiles
in production, use and disposal.
Communicating its environmental message through clever imagery, the
‘Interactive’ lights up as the visitor approaches the installation, capturing
their face on-screen and pasting it on top of a Monty Python-style
animated body. Both these images and the accompanying text used
throughout the ‘Interactive’ were developed and tested carefully so as to
avoid racial and gender stereotypes and visitor prejudice about certain
terminology and environmental impacts of specific fibres. Research
showed, for example, that if visitors had to select a fibre type for their
T shirt from named fibres, nine times out of ten they would select a natural
fibre (normally cotton) in an attempt to be environmentally friendly. This
led to the ‘Interactive’ being organised in such a way so as to encourage
impartial selection: the visitor makes a choice about fibre-type for their
T shirt from a textures box of tree anonymous fabric swatches.
As the visitor, role playing as responsible designer, negotiates each step of
the life-cycle, the environmental impacts accrued flash up on screen. The
‘Interactive’ gives a cumulative measure of water and energy consumption,
illustrated by icons: 100 litre bath-fulls of water and televisions which light
up when the energy consumed by the T shirt is equivalent to that of a day
of continuous TV watching. The display also includes a non-numerical
environmental summary of plus and minus points which draw attention to
a range of impacts from useful by-products to less desirable greenhouse gas
emissions. In the final screen, the visitor can reassess their design, compare
it to two others and then re-run the programme, modifying their design
choices. The grand finale sees the T shirt (still with the visitor’s face intact)
appear at a fashion show, strut down the catwalk to audience applause and
photo flashes of the fashion paparazzi.
All that is remaining is the conclusive challenge of transferring the message
of the ‘Interactive’ to the designers and producers in the real world. Media
like the Interactive are useful for communicating information in a museum
setting, but with the many limitations of time and complexity, a Museum-
based information tool can only touch on some of the many environmen-
tal and cultural implications of designing, making and using fabrics. The
next step would be to design a more sophisticated tool for different inter-
est groups and one which allows a wider range of inputs to enable a better
two-way transfer of information.
Kate Fletcher is a researcher and lecturer in environmentally responsible design in the
textile sector.



Managing eco-design 1: June 1998 17–21 June 1998

online conference Next generation eco-design 1st international Factor 4+
Managing eco-design 2: tools workshop congress and trade fair congress
online conference Surrey, UK Klagenfurt, Austria
Textiles, design and environment: ✉ Martin Charter ✉ Jan-Dirk Seiler
online conference Network for Electronic Product Design Presidential Office
Towards Sustainable Product The Centre for Sustainable Design Wuppertal Institute for Climate,
Design 2: online conference The Surrey Institute of Art and Design Environment and Energy
Falkner Road 19 d-42103 Wuppertal
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Sustainable technologies
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for a cleaner world
London, UK 26 The Quadrant
Richmond 2–3 July 1998
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Surrey TW9 1DL Eco-management and
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UK auditing conference
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9–12 June 1998
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29 May 1998
Beijing, China ✆ +44 1274 530408
Marketing, design and
environment workshop
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Beijing Onis Expo Co.
Surrey, UK
Room 109, Hui Zhi Office Building 26–28 August 1998
✉ Martin Charter No. 68, Xue Yuan Nan Lu NordDesign ‘98
The Centre for Sustainable Design Haidian District Stokholm, Sweden
The Surrey Institute of Art and Design Beijing 100081
Falkner Road Prof. Jan-Gunnar Persson
P R China
Farnham ✆ +46 8 7907868
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UK email: ✆ +46 8 7906374
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fax +44 1252 892747 ✆ +46 8 7907447
✉ Royal Institute of Technology
Department of Machine Design
SE-100 44 Stockholm
fax +46 8 20 22 87



31 August – 4 September 1998 23–25 September 1998 26–28 October 1998

Cleaner production and Euro Environment 98 Green Building Challenge 98
sustainable product development conference and exhibition Vancouver, Canada
Summer course Aalborg, Denmark ✉ Nils Larsson
Amsterdam, The Netherlands ✉ The Conference Manager Green Buildings Information Council
✉ Brigette Hertz Aalborg Congress and Kulter Centre 13th Floor
Interfaculty Department of Europa Plads 580 Booth Street
Environmental Science PO Box 149 Ottowa
University of Amsterdam DK 9100 Ontario KIA 0E4
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1007 Rb Amsterdam Denmark ✆ +1 613 769 1242
The Netherlands ✆ +45 99 35 5555 fax +1 613 232 7018
✆ +31 20 620 0225 fax +45 99 35 5580 email:
fax +31 20 624 9368 email:,
email: 16–19 November 1998
30 September – 2 October 1998 CARE Innovation ‘98 International
16–18 September 1998
Environmental engineering and Symposium and Brokerage event
Life cycle design ‘98 management conference Vienna, Austria
5th CIRP seminar on life Barcelona, Spain
cycle engineering ✉ Mr Bernd Kopacek
Stockholm, Sweden ✉ Liz Kerr International CARE ‘Vision 2000’ Office
Conference Secretariat c/o SAT, Aldergasse 3/1
✉ Dr Conrad Luttropp Wessex Institute of Technology A-2700 Wiener Neustadt
KTH Maskinkonstruktion Ashurst Lodge Austria
SE-10044 Stockholm Ashurst ✆ +43 2622 27367
Sweden Southampton SO40 7AA fax +43 2622 27367 22
✆ +46 8 7907497 UK email:
fax +46 8 202287 ✆ +44 1703 293223
email: fax +44 1703 292 853 25–27 November 1998
email: Third international conference
16–18 September 1998
on ecobalance
5th international seminar October 1998 Tsukuba, Japan
on life cycle engineering
Towards Sustainable Product ✉ Ms Shoko Tsuda
Stockholm, Sweden
Design 3 conference Ecomaterials Forum
Prof. Jan Gunner Persson
incorporating The Society of Non-Traditional
✆ +46 8 7907868
Managing eco-design 3 conference Technology
London, UK Kotohira Kalkan Building 3F
✆ +46 8 7907497 ✉ Martin Charter 1-2-8 Toranomon
email: The Centre for Sustainable Design Minato-ku
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Buisness strategy and the
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Leeds, UK
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PO Box 75
West Yorkshire BD17 6EZ
✆ +44 1274 530 408
fax +44 1274 530 409



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Issue 6: 17 June 1998
Issue 7: 11 September 1998
Issue 8: 11 December 1998


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ISSUE 5 : APRIL 1998

The Journal of
Sustainable Product Design

5 Editorial
Martin Charter, Joint Editor, The Journal of Sustainable Product Design

7 Developing green products: learning from stakeholders
Michael Jay Polonsky, Senior Lecturer, School of Management, University of
Newcastle, Australia; Philip J Rosenberger III, Lecturer, University of Western
Sydney, Australia; and Jacquelyn Ottman, President of J Ottman Consulting Inc, US

22 Eco-design and integrated chain management: dealing with networks

of stakeholders
Frank Boons, Lecturer in Policy Sciences and Organisational Sociology,
Tilburg University, Netherlands

36 Ecologically sound coffee machine concept design
and Hippo Water Roller

38 The Recyclability Map: application of demanufacturing complexity
metrics to design for recyclability
Burton H Lee, Doctoral Candidate, Department of Mechanical Engineering,
Design Division, Stanford University, US; and Kosuke Ishii, Associate Professor,
Department of Mechanical Engineering, Design Division, Stanford University, US

49 Joseph Fiksel
Martin Charter, Joint Coordinator, The Centre for Sustainable Design, UK

53 Strategic marketing of greener products
Jacquelyn Ottman, President of J Ottman Consulting Inc, US; & Virginia Terry,
Researcher in Sustainable Design at The Surrey Institute of Art & Design, UK

O2 news
The Centre for Sustainable Design
58 Special feature: Eco-design websites
Edited by Iris V van de Graaf, O2, Netherlands

an initiative of 60 Reviews
The Surrey Institute
of Art & Design 64 Diary of events