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The Journal of
Sustainable Product Design





ISSN 1367–6679
‘Casas Blancas’ chairs
Analysis, page 28

Bosch tools
O2 News page 57

Re-FINE ‘Smart’, environmentally

considered city car
Habitat CERunner lamp Gallery, page 40
O2 News, page 57

‘Smart’, environmentally
considered city car
Gallery, page 40

The Journal of
Sustainable Product Design

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

7 Creating an economic infrastructure for sustainable product design
Tim Cooper, Director, Centre for Sustainable Consumption, School of Leisure
and Food Management, Sheffield Hallam University, UK
18 Company-specific guidelines
Henrik Dahlström, Research Associate, IVF, The Swedish Institute of Production
Engineering Research, Sweden

25 Professor Han Brezet, Director, Section of Environmental Product
Development, Faculty of Industrial Design Engineering, Delft
University of Technology, the Netherlands
Martin Charter, Coordinator, The Centre for Sustainable Design, UK

28 Sustainable product development: a key factor for small enterprise
development – the case of furniture production in the Purépecha
region, Mexico
Dr Diego Masera, Product Development and Marketing Manager,
Micro-enterprises Support Programme, Kenya

40 ‘Smart’, the environmentally considered city car, the Flymo experience
and office chairs from plastic bottle caps

42 Cyclic, solar, safe – BioDesign's solution requirements for sustainability
Edwin Datschefski, Founder, BioThinking International, UK
52 Customers – the forgotten stakeholders
Emma Prentis, Director, Conservation Communications, UK, and Hedda Bird,
Managing Director, Conservation Communications, UK

© 1999 The Centre for Sustainable Design. O2 news

All written material, unless otherwise
stated, is the copyright of The Centre
57 ‘O2 Challenge’
for Sustainable Design, Surrey, UK. Martin Charter, Coordinator, The Centre for Sustainable Design, UK
Views expressed in articles and letters
are those of the contributors, and not 62 Reviews
necessarily those of the publisher.
ISSN 1367–6679 64 Diary of events

Editorial information Editorial Board Dr Stefano Marzano

Head of Corporate Design,
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Philips International (Netherlands)
O2 News and Journal marketing. Gary Owen
CEO, ResponseAbility Alliance (Zimbabwe) Dr Diana Montgomery
Anne Chick: Gallery, Reviews,
Head of Environment, Automobile
Diary and Journal production. Australasia
Association (UK)
Professor Chris Ryan
The Journal of Sustainable Product Design Director, Centre for Design, Royal Professor Jeremy Myerson
encourages response from its readers to Melbourne Institute for Technology Contemporary Design,
any of the issues raised in the journal. (Australia) De Montfort University (UK)
Entries for the Diary of events and material Europe Jonathan Smales
to be considered for review should all be Jacqueline Aloisi de Larderel CEO, The Earth Centre (UK)
sent to the Editors at the address below. Director, Industry and Environment, UNEP Dr Hans van Weenen
All articles published in the Analysis (France) Director, UNEP Working Group
section are assessed by an external Hans Peter Becker on Sustainable Product Design,
panel of business professionals, Managing Director, Wilkhahn (UK) Ltd. (UK) International Centre, University
consultants and academics. Professor Eric Billett of Amsterdam (Netherlands)
Warden, Brunel University College (UK) Professor Jan-Olaf Willums
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months of April, July, October and January Professor Han Brezet Director, Group for Environmental
each year. Subscription rates for one year Director, Section of Environmental Product Manufacturing (UK)
(four issues) are £90.00 (UK) and £100 Development, Faculty of Industrial Design US
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Unita di ricerca Progetto, Prodotto,
Ambiente, Politecnico di Milano (Italy)



Welcome to the eighth issue of

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

New developments opment. IPP is one of the envi- mance evaluation. The initial
ronmental priorities within the conclusions are that there is a
here is growing worldwide
T interest in environmental
aspects of product development.
German presidency of the EC,
and the conference was seen as
general confusion over the issues
and terminology surrounding
the first part of a consultative eco-design and there is the need
However, discussion over eco-
process. for some degree of clarification.
service development is still in
its infancy. Three recent events Eco-design ’99 was organised in These three events highlight a
have highlighted the growing March 1999 in Tokyo, Japan and number of key issues and trends.
debate over eco-design and attracted 488 delegates (including
related issues: ‘Integrated 100 from overseas). The event Product development
Product Policy’ conference included a range of high level
Discussion is moving from eco-
(Brussels), Eco-Design ’99 speakers and focused particularly
design to thinking about the
(Tokyo) and the formation on technical aspects of eco-
integration of environmental
of an International Standards design. Eco-design ’99 was
considerations into product
Organisation (ISO) working sponsored by the Inverse
development. This means taking
group on ‘Design for Manufacturing Forum and the
account of the different environ-
Environment’. Japan Environmental
mental issues and concerns at
Management Association for
The European Commission’s different stages in the product
Industry (JEMAI). Eco-design
DG XI (Environment) and DG 3 development process. This a
and environmentally-conscious
(Industry) jointly organised a multi-stakeholder process and
product development (ECP) are
conference in December 1998 on new processes and tools need
becoming of growing importance
‘Integrated Product Policy (IPP)’. to be developed. A life cycle
in corporate Japan due to carbon
The conference follows on from approach is essential, but LCA
dioxide (CO2) emission reduc-
a consultancy report commis- is not the panacea.
tion targets resulting from Kyoto
sioned by DGXI (see Editorial
climate change agreements and
JSPD 7). The event included Decision-making
the implementation of a range
parallel workshops designed to
of green laws in Japan in 1998. Tools should be designed to
consider the demand and supply
side policy tools and issues The formation of a recent support decision-making at
involved in the development and ISO working group on ‘Design different stages in the product
implementation of product- for Environment’ has also high- development process – and
orientated environmental policy. lighted a number of key issues. there is no one tool that is
The eco-design workshops high- There are various existing ISO capable of fulfilling the different
lighted the continuing confusion standards that refer directly or requirements.
in some quarters over the differ- indirectly to product-related However, as highlighted above
ence between life cycle thinking issues and which sub-divide the backbone should be lifecycle
and Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) broadly into two categories: thinking. Some degree of judge-
and also the need for the devel- product-related eg. eco-labelling, ment is always needed to make a
opment of new tools to enable LCA; and management-related, decision over balancing environ-
the integration of environmental eg. environmental management mental concerns, so a key ques-
considerations in product devel- systems, environmental perfor- tion is what level of certainty is



needed to make a decision? If suppliers. Many suppliers to large guidelines and its use in a valve
existing LCAs have indicated the companies are likely to be small company. Dr Diego Masera,
biggest environmental impact of and medium-sized companies Product Development and
a product eg. the ‘use’ phase with (SMEs) that will have low aware- Marketing Manager, Micro-
washing machines, is there need ness of environmental, legislative enterprises Support Programme,
to spend money and time and eco-design issues 1. For exam- Kenya, illustrates the real issues
commissioning a new LCA? Is ple, as a result of the proposed associated with implementing of
investment better placed in EC WEEE Directive 2 in the SPD amongst small enterprises in
developing new energy efficient electronics sector, companies Mexico, with a description of an
washing machine technology and are likely to need to implement SPD training programme.
educating users about ‘use’ issues eco-design programmes eg. Professor Han Brezet, Director,
eg. energy efficiency (climate ‘design for dismantling’, use of Section of Environmental
change) and powder dosage fewer components in product Product Development, Faculty
(water pollution)? design, etc. of Industrial Design Engineering,
Delft University of Technology,
Management However, many previous elec-
the Netherlands, highlights the
tronics manufacturers are now
The overall goal of integrated lack of research into eco-service
‘system integrators’ and contract
environmental product develop- development and the structural
out design and manufacture of,
ment (IEPD) should be to barriers to eco-innovation.
for example, components to
produce better products, that Emma Prentis and Hedda Bird,
companies in the Far East where
perform as well or better than Directors, Conservation
environmental and eco-design
comparative non-green products Communications, UK, give an
awareness is low. Therefore
in terms of: example of a lateral approach to
there will need to better much
· function involving the marketing function
greater cooperation between the
· quality in the environmental debate,
different elements of the ‘value
· cost. drawing on experience from
chain’ if, for example, products
Nortel. Edwin Datschefski,
are going to be designed to be
If companies are going to inte- Founder, BioThinking
grate environmental considera- International, UK, gives an alter-
tions into the product develop- native view of eco-design with
This issue of the Journal
ment process there needs to be numerous examples based on the
clear objectives, strategies, highlights…
‘bio-thinking’ approach using the
programmes, responsibilities Tim Cooper, Director, Centre principles of cyclic, solar and
and budgets. There still appears for Sustainable Consumption, safe. And, finally the O2 pages
to be considerable uncertainty School of Leisure and Food focus on the process and outputs
over the hierarchies involved Management, Sheffield Hallam of the recent ‘O2 Challenge’ held
in IEPD management systems, ie. University, UK provides an in the Netherlands, which
· tools… fit within overview of the problems associ- concerned the development of
· environmental product ated with the implementation of sustainable business concepts. •
management system… that sustainable product design (SPD)
within the existing economic Notes
fit within
structures and suggests some 1
· environmental management ‘Chain of Uncertainty’, The
policy changes to enable SPD.
system… that fit within Centre for Sustainable Design,
Henrik Dahlstrom, Research
· broader business function January 1999.
Associate, IVF, The Swedish
strategies… that fit within Institute of Production 2
Waste from Electrical and
· corporate strategy. Engineering Research, Sweden, Electronic Equipment (WEEE)
highlights the practical issues of Directive – this is a proposed
Supply chain EC Directive that is in its second
implementing eco-design taking
To implement eco-design in account of lifecycle considera- draft – the document covers
many sectors will mean the need tions. He gives an example of the ‘end of life’ management issues
to work much more closely with development of company-specific but highlights prevention issues,
eg. eco-design.

Creating an economic
infrastructure for
sustainable product design
Tim Coopern
Director, Centre for Sustainable Consumption, School of
Leisure and Food Management, Sheffield Hallam University, UK

This paper identifies major changes budgetary policy, for example,

to the economic infrastructure a government can influence
which are required in order to economic activity and, in partic-
progress towards sustainable ular, the amount of consump-
development and suggests that tion, investment and taxation on
these could support sustainable individuals and company profits.
product design (SPD). It focuses It thus helps to determine the
on the measurement of economic level of consumer demand and
progress, the potential of fiscal the resources available to
Tim Cooper is Director of the Centre for reform to change the relative cost companies to invest in product
Sustainable Consumption at Sheffield of manufacturing and after-sales development, both of which
Hallam University, UK. His research services, environmental objections affect designers’ workloads.
interests include the life span of to industrial concentration and
Government policy can also
consumer durables, the environmental free trade, and the availability of
change the price of factor inputs,
impact of consumption, and environmen- products designed for the least
such as labour, energy and raw
tal ethics. He worked in industry as an possible environmental impact. The
materials, which determines the
economist for ten years prior to under- paper concludes that the present
relative cost of different design
taking research at the New Economics infrastructure of the economic
options for products (as well as
Foundation on the recycling and re-use system provides inadequate
the designer’s own running
of household products, producing a incentives for people to choose
costs). Thus, for example, higher
report entitled ‘Beyond Recycling: the greener consumption patterns
taxation on energy would
longer life option’. He is a trustee of and offers little to encourage the
increase demand for energy
CREATE, a Liverpool based charity development of SPD.
efficient products. Increased
employing trainees formerly in long landfill tax might result in greater
term unemployment to repair The economy and demand for products that are
household appliances. Currently designed to be easily recycled. A
design activity
he is acting as Specialist Adviser reduction in employers’ National
ny government’s economic
to the UK House of Commons
Environment Committee for its A and environmental policies
have significance for the design
Insurance contributions (effec-
tively a jobs tax) could make
enquiry into ‘Reducing the repairing household appliances,
Environmental Impact community, being part of the which is often labour-intensive,
of Consumer Products’. social context within which more economically attractive.
designers work. Through its



The relationship between able development requires consumers to display outward

economics and design may be economic reform, although there symbols signifying that they had
approached from different has been less agreement over made a financial success of life,
perspectives. Economists have policy priorities and the scale ostentatious behaviour described
most often addressed it in the of reform required. This paper by Thorstein Veblen at the end
context of innovation and, explores several key economic of the nineteenth century as
specifically, the impact of tech- measures that could increase ‘conspicuous consumption’
nological change on the rate of demand for products designed (Veblen, 1970). Veblen observed
economic growth. A particularly for a reduced impact on the how some people buy products
important theoretical contribu- environment: new indicators of with a calculated desire to
tion was made by the Austrian progress, ecological tax reform, impress others and concluded
economist Joseph Schumpeter, restructuring trade, and that their satisfaction was often
who earlier this century improved environmental derived largely from this rather
described innovation as the product information. than the product’s inherent
engine of economic growth utility.
The paper assumes a need to
(Hutton, 1979). More recent
shift beyond ‘Design for In a trenchant critique of the
work has been undertaken by
Environment’ or eco-design, in compliance of designers in
Freeman and others at the
which the focus is on product contemporary materialism, Nigel
University of Sussex, who have
attributes, to SPD, which requires Whiteley cites design writer
explored (if not resolved) the
a broader approach. In SPD the Jeremy Myerson bemoaning the
relationship between technologi-
relationship between the prod- fact that design has become ‘a
cal innovation and cyclical
uct, suppliers, stakeholders, and weapon of exclusivity’ and he
trends in the economy known
external economic and social also highlights designer F.H.K
as ‘long waves’ (Freeman, 1984,
factors are taken into account, Henrion’s description of the
enabling more radical options prevalent view of design as
Designers have often sought to to be considered. ‘the yuppy fun of a moneyed
demonstrate that by improving minority’ (Whiteley, 1993, p.1).
the design input in the manufac- Whiteley argues that there has
turing sector, a nation can
Designer culture and the been a movement away from the
become more competitive and rise of ‘green’ consumerism ideal of designing for the benefit
its trade performance improve In order to place the following of society to ‘consumer engi-
(Roy and Potter, 1990; Design economic discussion in a histori- neering’, a trend which he traces
Council, 1997; Sentance and cal context, it is worth recalling back to a book of this title by
Clarke, 1997). Meanwhile sociol- two recent social trends, the Sheldon and Aren, published in
ogists, anthropologists and consumer boom of the 1980s 1932. As nations have become
cultural historians have consid- and the emergence of green more affluent, the role of the
ered people’s relationship with consumerism. designer has changed from meet-
products and the impact on ing needs to stimulating desires.
Between 1982 and 1989 consumer
society of consumption trends He cites Terence Conran:
spending in Britain rose by, on
(eg. Bocock, 1993; Douglas and ‘There was a strange moment around
average, almost 5% each year.
Isherwood, 1979; Miller, 1995). the mid-1960s when people stopped
Products with ‘designer’ labels
Since the publication of the flourished, although the extent
needing and need changed to want…
Government commissioned to which such products
Designers became more important
Blueprint for a Green Economy contributed to more work for
in producing ‘want’ products rather
(Pearce, Markandya and Barbier, designers is less clear. The politi-
than ‘need’ products, because you
1989), it has been widely cal shift towards individualism
have to create desire.’
accepted that achieving sustain- fed the desire of many (Whiteley, 1993, p.18).



As nations
have become
more affluent,
the role of the
designer has
changed from
meeting needs
to stimulating

Figure 1: Linear and circular economies (Source: New Economics Foundation)

Designers, Whiteley concludes, tropical rainforests were regu-

have increasingly had to act in larly in the news. In 1988 the
subservience to powerful Prime Minister, then Mrs
marketing departments. Thatcher, had a belated ‘road
to Damascus’ experience and
The economic boom of the 1980s
suggested in a speech to the
ended when Government
Royal Society of Arts (RSA) that
policies stoked up an already-
the Earth was, after all, threat-
booming economy, causing it to
ened by environmental abuse.
overheat and enter the 1989–91
Environmental books such as
recession. Around this time
The Green Consumer Guide
another trend was emerging
(Elkington and Hailes, 1988)
which would affect designers:
grew in number and influence.
green consumerism. Scientific
evidence had been building up The trend towards green
during the 1980s of damage being consumerism soon began to
done to the global environment. affect designers as businesses
The thinning of the ozone layer began to evaluate the marketing
due to the use of chlorofluoro- potential of ‘greener’ products.
carbons (CFCs), the potentially An increasing number of prod-
harmful effects of climate change ucts were specified to have a
caused by greenhouse gas emis- reduced environmental impact.
sions, and the destruction of



Tools such as life cycle assess- output. New indicators are now products designed for replace-
ment (LCA) began emerge. Even being developed to measure ment at the earliest opportunity.
so, the concept of green people’s ‘quality of life’, some of
Even so, many mainstream econ-
consumerism, as distinct from them linked with attempts to
omists remain too preoccupied
sustainable consumption, was measure progress towards
with the perceived benefits of
indicative of the resilience of sustainable development
maximising production,
the materialistic culture. (Anderson, 1991; Department of
economies of scale, and the
the Environment, 1996; Pearce,
cycle of depreciation and
1993; Trzyna, 1995).
Economists’ view of replacement to reflect upon the
Moreover, the wisdom of optimal use of products over
promoting economic growth in time. The assumption is that
It is widely assumed, not least by its current form is increasingly whenever production is increas-
politicians, that most people questioned, based as it is on a ing, the health of the economy
want to increase their consump- throwaway culture in which a is improving: more people are
tion. Consequently economists, constant updating of products is employed, incomes rise, and
particularly in the present required to give sufficient higher consumption follows.
century, have devoted consider- momentum to industrial output Such economists regard the only
able effort to identifying the (eg. McLaren, Bullock and limit to consumption as the
means by which the output of Yousuf, 1998). The model of a productive capacity of the
the economy might be ‘linear economy’ (see Figure 1), domestic economy – in other
maximised. Since the develop- in which it is assumed that there words, if the nation consumes
ment of national accounts in the is an unlimited supply of natural more than it produces, the econ-
late 1940s, the typical starting resources and that the environ- omy overheats and the result is a
point has been a measure of the ment has an unlimited capacity trade crisis, inflation or both.
amount of activity in the econ- to absorb waste and pollution, is They do not accept that there are
omy, Gross Domestic Product dismissed. Instead, a ‘circular environmental constraints to
(GDP), which aggregates the economy’ is proposed, in which ever-increasing economic
value of all goods and services the ‘throughput’ of energy and growth (eg. Beckerman, 1995).
produced in a year. raw materials is reduced. In such
Few critics of GDP advocate a
Economic growth, the annual an economy there would be a
‘no growth’ society, contrary to
increase in GDP, remains widely shift in activity from the manu-
popular myth. Aside from being
regarded as the key indicator of facturing sector to service sector
politically unattractive, to main-
trends in people’s ‘standard of activities such as re-use, repair,
tain the same level of economic
living’. In recent years, however, upgrading and recycling (Cooper,
output or reduce it will not
the value of GDP as a satisfactory 1994b; Krishnan, Harris and
necessarily result in a lower
indicator of human wellbeing Goodwin, 1995). The current
environmental impact. There are
has been questioned, in particu- economic system, based as it is
more sophisticated and positive
lar by environmental economists on the ‘fast replacement’ of
ways of overcoming environ-
and increasingly within govern- goods, would be transformed
mental degradation. For example,
ments (eg. Daly and Cobb, 1990; into one which instead gave
the likely impact of increasing
Department of the Environment, greater emphasis to the ‘optimal
product life spans upon
1996; Douthwaite, 1992; Jackson utilisation’ of resources (Jackson,
economic output is uncertain
et al, 1998; UNDP, 1998). Critics 1993). The historic trend away
but such a trend could offer
of the GDP indicator argue that from renting consumer durables
significant environmental
the kind of economic activity is might be reversed, with people
as significant to people’s sense of paying for the service supplied
wellbeing as the level of total by products rather than buying



Product life spans design would, in most cases,

perpetuate our problems,’ wrote
In the past,
As the proportion of people
Harrison Grathwohl (Aaker and
owning household goods such as
refrigerators, washing machines
Day, 1978, p.345). Designers it was feared
expressing strong reservations
and telephones began to rise
towards saturation levels after
about the trend, such as Victor that an
Papanek (1984), represented a
the second world war, manufac-
turers feared the impact upon
small minority. economy in
sales volumes. Many responded The situation has since changed.
by reducing the design life of Many leading manufacturers now which products
such products and increasing the argue that longer product life
frequency with which they spans should be encouraged in lasted longer
updated models (OECD, 1982; order to achieve progress
Cooper, 1994b). As a debate towards sustainable development
(Falkman, 1996). Managers
would grow
ensued in journals such as the
Harvard Business Review
(Stewart, 1959), prominent critic
are increasingly expected to
integrate environmental consid-
more slowly,
erations into product develop-
Vance Packard popularised the
term ‘planned obsolescence’ ment (Environment Council,
with reduced
(Packard, 1963). 1997). It is recognised that such a

It was suggested that shorter

strategy could offer manufactur- manufacturing
ers a new competitive edge
product life cycles would benefit
the economy. Typical was
(Cooper, 1994a). Few designers output and
today would publicly defend
industrial designer J. Gordon
Lipincott. Later critical of
planned obsolescence. retailers
declining product quality, he In the past, it was feared that an
once wrote: economy in which products suffering
‘Any method that can motivate the lasted longer would grow more
flow of merchandise to new buyers slowly, with reduced manufac- lower sales.
will create jobs and work for indus- turing output and retailers suffer-
try, and hence national prosperity… ing lower sales. However, these
Our custom of trading in our negative impacts could be offset
automobiles every year, of having by an increase in labour inten-
a new refrigerator, vacuum cleaner sive after-sales work such as
or electric iron every three or four repair, reconditioning and
years is economically sound.’ upgrading. The ‘throwaway econ-
omy’ would be transformed into
(Whiteley, 1993, p.16).
the ‘service economy’, with a net
George Nelson, another positive impact on employment.
respected designer, said ‘what we The economy would only suffer
need is more obsolescence, not if domestic manufacturers proved
less’ (Whiteley, 1993, p.15). Such unable to supply higher quality
people advocated the develop- products designed for longer life
ment of improved and more spans.
efficient products: ‘Freezing



Pricing for sustainable better balance is through

… One development ecological tax reform, switching
taxation from labour to energy
means of Developing longer lasting
products is an example of ‘eco-
and raw materials (on the basis
that taxes deter the use of the
achieving efficiency’, a concept widely
promoted within the business
factor of production upon
which they are levied) (von
a better community. Eco-efficiency is the
production of goods and services
Weizsecker and Jesinghaus, 1992;
O’Riordan, 1997). For example,
which meet human needs while
balance is reducing environmental impacts
employers’ National Insurance
contributions, which add to the
(Schmidheiny, 1992). It is closely
through related to the ‘factor four’
cost of employing people, could
be phased out and government
principle of increasing resource
revenue raised instead by higher
ecological productivity to enable society to
taxes on finite natural resources.
consume twice as much while
tax reform, reducing resource use by one
half (von Weizsecker, Lovins and
As a consequence of ecological
tax reform, repairing consumer
durables, which tends to be
switching Lovins, 1997). Both demand the
application of ‘Design for labour-intensive, would become
cheaper, whereas replacing prod-
taxation Environment’ principles to
improve the functional unit ucts, which requires more energy
performance of products. This and materials, would become
from labour could be achieved through a relatively costly. Ecological tax
reduction in mass and energy reform thus provides consumers
to energy intensity, the maximum use of with an economic incentive to
renewable, recyclable or recy- extend the life of products wher-
and raw cled materials in construction, ever possible and creates a more
favourable climate for the devel-
or ‘design for durability’ and
materials. product life extension (Burall,
1991; Environment Council,
opment of products designed to
be repairable or upgradable. This
1997; Mackenzie, 1991). could have particularly significant
implications for electrical and
One reason why resource
electronic products, for example,
productivity is not currently
as economic pressures currently
being maximised is that the
discourage re-use and recycling.
relative cost of key factors of
production – labour, energy and Any such change to the tax
raw materials – does not provide system would lead to reductions
producers with the right financial in output in some parts of the
incentives. In the industrialised economy and growth in others.
world, the high cost of labour Companies manufacturing prod-
relative to energy and raw mate- ucts with a relatively low envi-
rials has led many manufacturers ronmental impact would be
to concentrate on increasing rewarded while the inefficient
labour productivity (through, for use of energy and raw materials
example, automation) rather would be penalised. Despite its
than improving resource produc- attractions ecological tax reform
tivity. One means of achieving a has not yet been introduced in
any comprehensive sense, not



least because in industry there sive turnover tax on companies mum environmental
would be as many losers as and stricter legislation on performance standards. The
winners. Resource-intensive monopolies. development of markets for
industries have successfully products designed according to
The environmental case for more
lobbied against the introduction strict environmental criteria is
localised production and repair
of the carbon-energy tax first consequently under threat.
facilities is less controversial as it
proposed by the European Second, free trade has resulted in
is widely agreed that current
Commission in 1991. much manufacturing being relo-
levels of pollution and conges-
cated to low wage countries and
tion caused by long distance
it is more likely that products
Competition and the road freight is unacceptable.
imported from these countries
Opposition has grown in recent
free trade ideal will not be properly maintained.
years to the transportation of
A further important element of Servicing work is labour inten-
food over long distances
the nation’s economic infra- sive and normally has to be done
(Paxton, 1994) and similar argu-
structure is the degree of indus- in the importing country, where
ments could be applied to
trial concentration and the loca- wage costs are much higher. It is
consumer durables. The use of
tion of production facilities. therefore often more cost effec-
centralised facilities for after-
Around 25% of global manufac- tive to purchase replacements
sales services has likewise been
turing is now controlled by 500 than to get faulty products
criticised. Stahel and Jackson
industrial corporations (Korten, repaired. In such circumstances
argue that repair work is best
1995). Such companies are able life cycle thinking – such as
undertaken ‘in comparatively
to reap economies of scale by designing products for reparabil-
small workshops, scattered
concentrating on a few, very ity – is less likely to receive
throughout the country wher-
large production sites, which priority.
ever there are items in need of
reinforces their commercial re-manufacturing and repair and In the light of such arguments, it
strength. In the market for large customers who need them’ is not surprising that environ-
kitchen appliances, for example, (Jackson, 1993, p.270). mentalists are currently among
three manufacturers account for Appropriate planning policies the most vocal critics of free
around one half of all sales in and increased taxation on road trade, calling for a ‘new protec-
Western Europe. freight could encourage such tionism’ and urging reform to
Although the effect of industrial workshops. the World Trade Organisation
concentration on product devel- (eg. Lang and Hines, 1993; von
The current debate on free trade
opment is complex, environ- Weizsecker, Lovins and Lovins,
and the environment is particu-
mentalists influenced by 1997).
larly relevant to the foregoing
Schumacher’s philosophy that discussion. Despite the environ-
‘small is beautiful’ associate mental impact of road freight Greener products and
large scale industrial production most politicians, influenced by
with the excesses of modern
consumer choice
neo-classical economists, are
consumerism (Schumacher, strongly supportive of free trade. The assumption that consumers
1974). Thus although the envi- This is a complex issue but there have a right to the maximum
ronmental performance of many are two particular issues which possible choice of products is
small and medium sized compa- need to be raised. First, many often unquestioned. Classical
nies (SMEs) is not always impres- environmentalists object to the economic theory suggests that
sive, green political parties fact that free trade is being used increased choice is always
across Europe have argued for as a dogma to challenge the right beneficial as it leads to greater
measures to reduce industrial of countries to ban imported efficiency in the economy. In
concentration such as a progres- products that do not meet mini- America today more than 400



How is models of cars are available,

while in one district of Tokyo it
running cost of products is
increased but consumers with
is possible to buy nearly 200 enough money are able to
a balance different types of television maintain a degree of choice.
(West, 1992). The regulatory approach has
achieved A more critical stance is taken
been adopted recently by the
European Union in respect of
by Stewart Lansley, who has
between suggested that ‘the extra choice
refrigerators, which must meet a
minimum energy efficiency stan-
claimed for the consumer is easy
supporting to exaggerate’ and argues that
dard from 1999. However, critics
could argue that consumers have
‘claims of greater responsiveness
free markets and differentiation are
a right to be able to purchase
any products, even if it damages
overstated, except at the top end
the environment unnecessarily.
that offer of the market’ (Lansley, 1994,
p.92). In an economy geared An additional dimension to this

virtually towards sustainable develop-

ment, how much consumer
debate is the possibility that as a
result of greater customisation

unlimited choice is appropriate? How is

a balance achieved between
increased choice might in future
co-exist alongside mass produc-
supporting free markets that tion. At the start of the century
choice, offer virtually unlimited choice, Henry Ford told customers that
irrespective of product quality they could choose any colour of
irrespective of or social need, and imposing car ‘so long as it was black’.
regulations so strict that the Today, however, ‘just-in-time’
product quality variety of products available is management and other modern
unduly limited? techniques make custom-made
or social need, Consider as an example the
products on mass production
lines much more practicable.
options for improving energy
and imposing efficiency in household appli-
This has environmental
significance; designers are now
ances. Policymakers who argue
considering whether people
regulations so that choice is important might
favour the use of market-based
might form closer bonds with
custom-made products and be
strict that the instruments, such as increased
taxation on energy, to encourage
less likely to discard them
prematurely (van Hinte, 1997).
the purchase of energy efficient
variety of models. On the other hand,
In ‘The Joyless Economy’, Tibor
Scitovsky (1976) argued that
advocates of a regulatory
products approach might prefer the
much unnecessary waste is
created because people sense
imposition of minimum product
available is standards, on the basis that
little attachment to possessions
which have been mass produced.
preventing the sale of the least
unduly limited? energy efficient products is Consumer choice also needs to
certain and thus more effective. be considered in an ethical
The regulatory approach directly context. Increased attention has
reduces the choice of products been given to the interests of
for consumers, while the fiscal consumer since President
approach is restrictive in that the Kennedy’s 1962 speech on



consumer rights, while more Conclusions complex and often controversial,

recently a strong case has been need to be addressed.
This paper has identified major
made for greater recognition that Environmentalists have devel-
changes to the economic infra-
responsibilities, or duties, co- oped a strong case for question-
structure that have been
exist alongside rights (Selbourne, ing the case for unrestrained free
proposed by environmental
1994). The idea that consumers trade. The location of production
specialists to encourage sustain-
have responsibilities as well as and after-sales services closer to
able development. They may be
rights is now accepted by customers would reduce the
summarised as follows.
consumer lobby groups significant environmental damage
(International Organisation of First, there is a need for greater caused by road freight.
Consumers Unions, 1993). public recognition that human
Finally, consumers have respon-
wellbeing cannot satisfactorily
If the responsible exercise of sibilities as well as rights. There
be measured merely by aggregat-
choice is to have real meaning, are circumstances in which mini-
ing the output of goods and
however, consumers need access mum environmental standards
services in an economy.
to adequate information. The should be applied to products,
Additional indicators of progress
European Union Eco-labelling even if this reduces consumer
alongside GDP are needed in
scheme, which was supposed to choice. At the same time, there
order to reduce the cultural
help consumers choose products are few currently available
pressure for ever-increasing
with a relatively low environ- products that are designed for a
mental impact, has proven far low environmental impact and
from successful. In Britain, a Second, progress towards there is considerable confusion
report by the National Consumer sustainable development over claims made by producers.
Council (1996) found that many demands greater eco-efficiency, Consumer choice would be
‘green’ claims are exaggerated. which will require fundamental improved if environmental
Although the UK Government changes in the relative cost of product information was
introduced a voluntary ‘Green labour, energy and raw materials. regulated more strictly.
Claims Code’ early in 1998, the This could be achieved through
There can be no certainty that a
quality of information on the ecological tax reform, which is
country’s development will be
environmental impact of prod- intended to create the financial
environmentally sustainable even
ucts remains unsatisfactory and incentives necessary to attract
if these measures to improve the
pressure for statutory measures is people to greener consumption
economic infrastructure are
increasing. SPD is only likely to patterns, such as buying longer
introduced. However, they
flourish in an economy in which lasting and energy efficient prod-
would at least provide people
information about the environ- ucts, and repairing rather than
with better incentives to make
mental performance of products replacing products whenever
environmentally sensitive deci-
is accurate and readily accessible. possible.
sions. Consumer demand could
Third, issues relating to trade then provide the right conditions
and the environment, although for SPD to flourish. •




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Development for the United Barbier, E.B., Blueprint for a Green
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London: Pluto (1991)
Design Council, More for Less: Pearce, D., Blueprint 3: Measuring
Korten, D.C., When Corporations
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Rickards, T., Stimulating Innovation,
Krishnan, R., Harris, J.M. and
Douthwaite, R., The Growth Illusion, London: Frances Pinter (1985)
Goodwin, N.R., A Survey of
Bideford: Green Books (1992)
Ecological Economics, Washington Roy, R. and Potter, S., Design and the
Durning, A.T., How Much Is Enough? DC: Island (1995) Economy, London: Design Council
London: Earthscan (1992) (1990)
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Class, London: Unwin (1970)



Henrik DahlströmI
Research Associate, IVF, The Swedish Institute of
Production Engineering Research, Sweden

The designer of today and ucts with reduced environmental

tomorrow has to take environ- impact. The problem is that
mental aspects into consideration. these strategies are often too
But it is a confusing world of LCA general. A designer needs advice
inventories, eco-design handbooks that can be applied to specific
and disassembly software. Most products for it to be of real
designers really need to have a value.
basic knowledge of the environ-
Henrik Dahlström is a research The most common method used
mental impacts of their products
associate at the Industrial Environment for learning about the environ-
and need guidelines that provide
Division at IVF. He is doing research mental impacts of a product is
specific advice and strategies on
in ‘Design for Environment’ at The to undertake some kind of life
how to reduce these impacts. At
Swedish Institute of Production cycle assessment (LCA). The
IVF, The Swedish Institute of
Engineering Research, Sweden, and result of the LCA then forms an
Production Engineering Research,
design for the working environment. inventory, ie. a detailed list of all
a method for developing company-
Current programmes concern eco- the emissions and resources used
specific guidelines has been devel-
design in small and medium-sized during the life cycle of the prod-
oped. Based on information from
companies. Mr Dahlström is also uct. The inventory can be evalu-
the results of a life cycle assess-
carrying out research to determine ated using different methods and
ment (LCA), key factors and possi-
how environmental knowledge could should identify the key environ-
ble strategies are identified. The
be implemented in Rule Based mental impacts in the life cycle,
strategies are developed into useful
Engineering (RDE). eg. production of material,
advice, which is then adapted to
energy consumption during use
the policies and capabilities of
or transportation. It may also
the company. The result is a
show the kind of impacts that
customised list on how to design
are expected, eg. acidification
products with a low environmental
and greenhouse effect.
impact from ‘cradle to grave’. This
Evaluation results, however,
article describes the method and
do not indicate how to design
presents a short case study.
the product.
IVF has developed a method
Introduction for producing company-specific
oday, there are several design guidelines. The results
T manuals and guidelines
covering eco-design. They give
of an LCA on a typical product
are evaluated to form the basis
good advice on working meth- of the design solution. There is
ods, topics to consider and a need to remember that some
general strategies to design prod- environmental problems tend



Inventory Environmental Other

aaaa 1066 impacts requirements
bbbb 1215 aaaa 1066 Laws
cccc 1566 cccc 1566 Demands
dddd 1815 dddd 1815 Policies
eeee 1918 ffff 1945 Possibilities
ffff 1945

Advice bank ‘Detached’ Company

Material production guidelines guidelines
Manufacturing process • AAAA • AAAA
Transport • CCCC • CCCC
Use of product • DDDD • DDDD
End of life • FFFF • FFFF

Figure 1: An LCA is the base for choosing advice, which is then adjusted according to other requirements.
The result is a company-specific guideline.

to get lost in an LCA, especially and are able to apply it to the Choice of product
after the inventory is evaluated, company culture and its
The guidelines should be appro-
eg. substances not accounted for products. The DfE expert should
priate for all products or at least
in the evaluation method, deple- work in close co-operation with
one category of the products.
tion of resources (some meth- company employees to achieve
With this in mind, a product
ods), etc. In addition to the LCA, best results. The DfE expert
should be chosen to be repre-
external considerations such should have knowledge of DfE
sentative of the whole group of
as customer demands, laws, tools and processes and other
products. This implies that the
technical possibilities and internal business functions
product should:
company policies have to be involved in product develop-
· contain as many of the
taken into account. ment, eg. marketing should have
different materials used by
good knowledge of the products,
The IVF method consists of the company as possible
company structure/culture and
three main steps:
customer needs. · be produced with as many
· analysing the product of the company’s manu-
· finding design strategies facturing methods as possible
· translating the strategies to Analysing a product · be transported to the same
company-specific guidelines. The purpose of the product extent as the other products
This work will only be successful analysis is to assess the environ- are transported
if those involved in the design mental impact of the products. · be produced in large volumes.
process are aware of environ- This can be achieved in different
mental issues like ‘Design for ways, although it should always
Environment’ (DfE) and LCA, be based on life cycle thinking.



Different methods and money. The vast majority of the distance, but more important
of analysis companies do not have such is the means of transportation
resources. used. The importance of trans-
There are different methods of
port is easily underestimated
estimating the environmental When deciding on the extent
because a lot of short, hidden
impact of products. The choice and method of the analysis, it is
transportation exists across the
of method depends on how important to remember that the
whole life cycle of the product.
detailed an analysis the company purpose is to identify the essen-
can afford. The more detailed the tial impacts in the life cycle of Use of product
analysis, the more knowledge the product. The analysis must be If a product consumes material
and financial resources are accurate enough to do this, but or energy during use, this gener-
required. in most cases it is unnecessary to ally accounts for the largest part
perform a full LCA to find the of the product’s environmental
A qualitative method that can be
key issues. impact. The impact of energy
used is the MET-matrix, where
used depends to a great extent
use of material, energy consump-
on the country in which the
tion and toxic emissions are Finding good design
product is used, ie. how the
noted for each step of the life strategies
energy is produced. Coal and oil
cycle, ie. production of materials
The result of the product analysis are many times worse than, for
and components, in-house
helps to identify the major example, hydropower.
production, use and ‘end of life’.
impacts. These can be divided
Environmental indicators such as ‘End of life’
into five categories:
ELU-figures (indicators derived It is often difficult to know what
Production of material will happen to the product when
from the EPS evaluation system)
and Eco-indicators give a The product may contain materi- it is disposed of in maybe ten
measure of the impact from, als with high environmental years time. The recycling of
for example, one kilo of steel. impacts. For many products the metals usually requires a small
Figures are listed for construc- consumption of materials has the amount of energy compared to
tion materials, manufacturing largest impact on the environ- the production of virgin materi-
processes, energy consumption ment. This is mainly due to emis- als and the emissions to the
and transport. sions to air during mining and atmosphere are usually relatively
the decrease of material reserves. low. Recycling will continue to
A screening LCA can be
increase which means that
performed by using previous Manufacturing processes
products should be designed for
LCAs as bricks to build up a new Production sometimes uses
ease of recycling, especially if
LCA. The advantage of this a lot of energy or consumes
they contain metals.
approach compared to environ- toxic chemicals. But the
mental indicators, is a far better manufacturing process does
transparency in data. It is possi- not usually have a high The advice bank
ble to identify simplifications and impact compared to the use
IVF has collected numerous
assumptions. A computerised of materials.
examples about reducing the
LCA tool with an LCA database
Transport environmental burden of prod-
is required.
Materials and components trans- ucts across each of these types of
Optimum precision is obtained ported to the company and impacts. IVF calls this an ‘advice
by performing a full LCA includ- products transported from the bank’ which enables users to
ing evaluation of the results with company often cover consider- pick out relevant advice on the
different evaluation methods. able distances. In determining environmental impact reduction
However, a complete LCA study the environmental impact, the for specific products. To make it
calls for considerable resources weight and volume of the prod- easier to find the design strate-
in terms of LCA knowledge, time uct is important, as of course is gies that best apply to the



Figure 2: The TAH valve

specific product, the advice is gies is a task that requires both Develop strategies based on
sorted into the five categories knowledge, experience and a company-specific guidelines
mentioned above: creative mind and should be
At this stage, the list of advice is
· production of material completed by a DfE expert.
based only on LCA information,
· manufacturing processes When appropriate guidelines
which makes it somewhat
have been found the result will
· transport detached. To be used in the ‘day
be a list of advice on how to
· use of product to day’ work of the designer the
design the specific product with
· ‘end of life’. guidelines cannot just be based
less environmental impact.
upon objective environmental
For example, if the results of General DfE advice can be found considerations. Parameters such
an LCA imply that the energy in many manuals, books and as laws, customer demands,
consumption of a product during checklists for eco-design (eg. company policies, technical
use produces a large impact, then Brezet 1996, Beherendt 1997 and feasibility and finance have to be
advice will be found under the Burall 1996). But to be usable the taken into account. Customising
category ‘use of product’. Until advice should be as concrete as and adapting the strategies
now the ‘advice bank’ has only possible. The designer gains little requires a wide knowledge of the
been issued in printed form. help from a piece of advice such company and the environment.
However, as the amount of as ‘Do not use toxic materials’. It To enable this to be carried out,
information increases, a comput- is far more important to know a group of people from different
erised database may be devel- which materials are regarded as elements of the company must
oped. To pick out and find the toxic, eg. ‘Avoid the use of lead, cooperate, eg. production,
most appropriate design strate- cadmium and mercury’. design, marketing and sales.







1,95 2,62 1,53

0,0828 0,17
0 Brass Plastics Iron housing Packaging Truck 16t B250 Shaping brass Injection Casting iron
moulding plates
greenh. ozone acidif. eutroph. h.metals carcin.
w.smog s.smog pesticid energy solid
Analyse 1 p assembly ‘Materials’; Method: SimaPro 3.0 Eco-indicator 95/ Europe g / indicator

Figure 3: The environmental impact of the valve from cradle to grave. Evaluation performed using Ecoindicator 95.

Consideration of the require- ment or process chemicals not product development function
ments and customisation of included in the inventory. The and has recently started to inte-
advice could be achieved through main gap is usually related to grate environmental considera-
discussions. However, it is easier unusual substances and local tions as part of the introduction
to do this within some kind of environmental effects, which of environmental management
framework. IVF has used an could be of significance in systems. TAH has, in cooperation
FMEA methodology (Failure specific cases. Supplementary with IVF, established a set of
Mode Effect Analysis) for sorting information could also be company-specific guidelines, for
and customising the advice. provided through the local designing valves with a reduced
Recently many different ways of authorities’ lists of hazardous environmental impact. TAH
using FMEA methodology for chemicals and the company’s designers and buyers have
environmental purposes have environmental review. collected product information
appeared. In IVF’s application and IVF developed a screening
of FMEA, figures are allotted to LCA study.
environmental importance,
Case study: Valve
Choice of product
requirements and possibilities for Tour and Andersson Hydronics
A representative product was
change. These three figures are (TAH) designs and manufactures
chosen. The chosen valve
then multiplied to obtain a valves and systems for water-
contains mainly brass, cast iron
priority list. borne regulation of heating or
and different sorts of plastics
cooling media in buildings and
Consideration must also be given (materials which are normally
employs 850 people. The prod-
to environmental problems not used in the company). It is also
ucts are used to obtain a desired
highlighted by the LCA. These one of the company’s main
indoor climate with a minimised
might include the work environ- product types.
energy loss. TAH has its own



10 4,17
0 0,469 0,0994
-0,335 -0,032
-20 -18,9
0 Materials Recycling brass Recycling plastics Recycling iron housing Municipal waste Eur

greenh. ozone acidif. eutroph. h.metals carcin.

w.smog s.smog pesticid energy solid
Analyse 1 p disassembly ‘Disassembly’; Method: SimaPro 3.0 Eco-indicator 95/ Europe g / indicator

Figure 4: The environmental impact if the valve is recycled 100%. Negative values indicates a benefit. Evaluation performed
using Ecoindicator 95

Analysis of the product performed using the EcoIndicator turing. Transport and packaging
An inventory of the valve 95 method, and the Ecoscarcity produced only a minor impact.
components was made and the method (an evaluation method
Iron and brass are both metals
materials, weight and origin (for based on actual pollution and
which can be recycled. An inter-
the transport calculation) of each targets derived from Swiss
esting question concerned the
component noted. SimaPro, a policy).
possible benefits of designing the
software program, was used to First, the product was structured valve to be 100% recyclable. The
complete the screening LCA, and into materials categories (eg. analysis showed that recycling
inventories for material, manu- iron, brass, plastics and packag- would decrease the impact to
facturing, transport, etc. were ing) to identify the impact of about 50%, as the extra trans-
used from the BUWAL 250, each material and process. portation was of relatively minor
Idemat 96 and Pre4 databases. Results showed major impacts importance.
Some inventories were old and from the material production of
The use of the product is often
contained weak data, others iron and brass. Iron can produce
important but in this case it is
were not applicable for Swedish smog due to emissions of dust
very hard to calculate the impact.
conditions. However, not all and sulphur dioxide (SO2),
During its lifetime the valve
inventories could be verified due acidification due to SO2 emis-
regulates huge amounts of heat
to economic restrictions. The sions, and contribute to the
ie. energy use. Therefore, any
researchers had to concentrate ‘greenhouse effect’ due to
changes in design must, under no
on the most important issues and carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions.
circumstances, cause a deteriora-
adjusted some calculations for The largest impact from brass
tion in the performance of the
Swedish conditions, eg. brass has was acidification due to SO2
a high recycling rate in Sweden. emissions from copper manufac-
Then the evaluation was



Design strategies · if possible, avoid loctite in methodology lies in its relative

nipples simplicity and that it produces
When summarising the analysis
· use as few materials as possible company-specific knowledge.
above the major conclusions
· gather material fractions in Further improvements of the
were that:
modules so that the materials method are certainly possible.
· the pollution due to the
can easily be separated One weak area is the step from
manufacturing of of brass
an LCA evaluation to generating
and cast iron are important · be cautious about using
advice and guidelines. This could
additives like fillings, fibre re-
· recycling brass and cast iron be made more distinct. Another
inforcement or fire retardants
will create a considerable area to be improved is the
which make it hard or
benefit consideration of environmental
impossible to recycle plastics
· packaging and transport have problems that are not accounted
· mark the plastics in the
a relatively small impact. for in the LCA. There needs to
injection mould with standard
be better instruments to assess
Advice was then searched for in marking according to ISO 11469.
these issues and further research
‘advice bank’ categories ‘produc-
These are in a sense general should be completed on how
tion of materials’ and ‘end of
guidelines but they have been to use LCA in product
life’. The suggestions were:
picked out to fit the TAH valve. development. •
Minimise the use of materials These guidelines would be in-
· do not over-dimension. Make effective or even inaccurate
suitable calculations and tests. when designing a different
Choice of material product, eg. food processor.
Work is being completed at Brezet, H., et al, ‘Ecodesign : a
· where possible, use cast iron
TAH to further develop these promising approach to sustain-
instead of brass. Note that it is
guidelines. able Production and
an overall requirement that the
Consumption’, (Paris, UNEP/IE,
function is not deteriorated or
the lifetime considerably Conclusions and
shortened Beherendt, S., et al, ‘Life Cycle
further work Design: A manual for small and
· if not recycled, metals have
It is essential to devise practical medium-sized enterprises’,
generally a higher impact than
ways of performing DfE. The (Berlin, Springer, 1997), pp 53-
plastics (if recycled, metals can
designer, especially in a small 108
be a better alternative)
company, does not have either Burall, P., ‘Product development
· the impact of metals is
the time or the know-how to and the environment’,
considerably reduced if the
use complex methods or tools. (Aldershot, England, Gower
material is recycled
On the other hand, environmen- Publishing Ltd., 1996)
· if possible use recycled
tal considerations are often
material. Goedkoop, M., ‘The Eco-
complicated. This is a sensitive
indicator 95 : Final report’,
Design for recycling problem when dealing with DfE.
(Amersfoort, Netherlands,
· use as few screws as possible. The project illustrated that the
PRÈ Consultants, 1995)
This saves time in assembly as company’s knowledge of product
well as disassembly development as well as the Willkrans, R., et al, ‘Design for
· use as few screw types as external knowledge of LCA and Easy Assembly’, (Gothenburg,
environment were needed to IVF, 1995)
possible to minimise time
for tool change develop a tool utilising the skills
of the environmental expert and
the designer. The strength of this



Professor Han Brezet

Director, Section of Environmental Product
Development, Faculty of Industrial Design
Engineering, Delft University of Technology,
the Netherlands

Martin Chartern
Coordinator, The Centre for Sustainable Design, UK

After finishing his studies in Electrical What do you think are the projects in this area. One
Engineering at the Delft University of key challenges of sustainable example is, a very successful
Technology (DUT), Han Brezet received development for product eco-design project in the
his PhD in Environment Sociology at and service development? Netherlands, which included
the Erasmus University Rotterdam. ne of the key areas that is over 600 companies, primarily
Since 1992, after a career in cleaner
production consultancy, he holds the
O often not discussed is the
environmental impact of emerg-
SMEs (see the following extract
from ‘The IC EcoDesign project:
chair on eco-design at the sub-faculty ing service industries eg. infor- results and lessons from a Dutch
of Industrial Design Engineering at mation and communication initiative to implement eco-
the DUT. In his present position, he is technologies (ICT). Often it is design in small and medium-
leader of the Design for Sustainability believed that services are envi- sized companies’ by Carolien G
Programme of his Faculty and is ronmentally beneficial. There are van Hemel, JSPD2, July 1997). But
research director of Kathalys, the a small number of people delib- since the project was completed
Joint Centre for Sustainable Product erately designing eco-efficient in 1998, there has been no
Innovation of TNO Industry and services, however, the majority proactive government policy
DUT established in 1998. of the service industry pay virtu- to maintain the focus of these
ally no attention to eco aspects, SMEs on POEMS. Also, more
such as infrastructure and specific government attention
products used to operate these is needed for improving the
services. Integrating eco-design energy-efficiency of products
thinking into the service design in line with the requirements
of emerging service industries is of climate change agreements.
It is essential to organise young
Another key issue is how govern- students and entrepreneurs to
ment’s should develop national enable them to increase the
product-orientated environment chances of developing better and
policies. So far this is limited and more environmentally sustain-
there is generally still a focus on able businesses. History has
production aspects – learning shown that, with the exception
from the Dutch-thinking on of what is emerging in Japanese
Product Oriented-Environmental industries at the moment, that
Management Systems (POEMS) the old-style dinosaur businesses
approach could contribute to the are not capable moving into eco-
debate. So governments should (re)design, or particularly into
support different research eco-innovation. So how can



young students and entrepre- develop policies, concerted

neurs develop the eco-design actions and instruments to Results of the Dutch
knowledge to shift existing stimulate radical change, this is EcoDesign project
industries towards a more especially true in the environ-
Participating industries
sustainable future, or create mental area. In this respect, the
their own sustainable businesses. rest of the world can learn a lot The best represented
from the Japanese eco-design industries were metal
There is a need for high levels
programme, in which the products, machinery, wood
of education and awareness
Department of Industry (MITI) and furniture, electronics,
throughout society, this includes rubber and synthetics.
is creating the preconditions for
better examples of successful
Japanese industries to become Attitude towards eco-design
eco(re)-design and eco-innova-
the world’s leader in product
tion. At present, these case 75% of the companies did
energy efficiency, eco-efficient
studies are often difficult to find. not have any eco-design
material use and sustainable
Many engineers who are now experience before starting the
new concept development.
involved in product development IC EcoDesign project.
have not been educated about What do you see as the key Most companies regarded
environmental considerations eg. opportunities and problems eco-design as an opportunity
integration of sustainable energy faced by eco-service rather than a threat. Eco-
options like, photovoltaic cells development? design was recognised by
or human power energy, and One of the problems is that we some for its marketing
therefore miss out on oppor- assume that services are environ- potential.
tunities to develop more sustain- mentally friendly but this some- Some companies saw eco-
able products. More broadly, times is hard to evaluate this design as a cost-neutral activ-
there is virtual no education with existing LCA tools. ity. However, the majority of
and training in relation to Opportunities are there, many the companies regarded eco-
eco-service development. new types of services are already design as an initial investment,
being developed eg. ICT. This is which would be paid back in
What do you think are the key
because service businesses are the medium to long-term.
barriers to eco-innovation?
(eg. the incorporation of usually innovation-orientated External parties that were
environmental and broader and open minded, but neglect perceived to be most
sustainability considerations environmental aspects in their concerned about eco-design
into new product services and service design. In every service were government, suppliers
development) there is a product-part and there and trade associations.
It requires a step or radical is opportunity to continue eco- However, the parties which
change from industry as we can (re)design steps as part of the stimulated them to implement
learn from research completed process. We need some new eco-design were government,
measuring instruments and tools industrial customers and the
by Professor Nicholas Ashford at
for eco-service product develop- end-users of the product.
MIT (US). It is important for
smart businesses to invest in ment. In the follow-up to TU Motivation towards
young bright people from outside Delft’s Promise 1 project on eco-design
the company and even outside eco-design of products, a
The two most important
the industry in developing new, Promise 2 approach is being
motives for participation in the
more sustainable business ideas developed, focusing on eco-
IC EcoDesign project were the
and to ‘invent’ the sustainable design of services. New tools
wish to increase the quality of
consumer. A big problem is that for meeting their environmental specific products, and the
governments , as potential impact, will be part of importance of anticipating
powerful environmental change Promise 2. • future developments. A third
agencies, are usually slow to



motive was that eco-design was had not produced any results. product-related environmental
seen as an important aspect of information and requirements in
Focus on eco-design
product innovation. With a fourth their environmental
Some eco-design strategies
motive being a feeling of personal management system.
proved to be more popular than
responsibility felt towards ‘the • 25% aimed to integrate environ-
others. These eco-design strate-
environment’ by the company mental demands in their quality
gies were recycling, reduction of
representative. The search for system.
weight/components, low-impact
environmentally benign alternative
materials and high product relia- Commercial results
materials or components, and
bility. After these four types, the • 67% expected their
supply chain pressures were also
most popular options concerned ‘eco-designed’ products to
strong motivations.
cleaner production, more efficient increase their market shares.
Direct project results packaging, low energy-use in the • 56% expected to enter new
The 77 companies provided the use phase and the application of markets with their environmen-
following results: recycled materials. tally improved product.
Eco-design strategies that had a • 25% expected a profit to be
• eco-design had been applied to
greater chance of being imple- generated through eco-design
1 product that was totally new
mented were cleaner production, within two years, ranging from
to the company
the prevention of waste of 10% to 50%; 27% expected a
• eco-design had been applied
energy/consumables in use phase, profit ranging from 1% to 5%
to 21 products that have been
high product reliability, easy main- (profit was defined as being
thoroughly re-designed
tenance and repair and recycling. based on costs savings as well
• eco-design has been applied to
as sales increases).
13 products that were slightly Indirect project results
improved. These products were The greatest increase in eco- Appreciation of the IC EcoDesign
being or will be launched in the design knowledge concerned eco- project
near future. design in general, environmental • 64% said that the IC EcoDesign
• the packaging of another 4 aspects of materials and the envi- project has led to concrete
products was environmentally ronmental burden of the product results.
improved in its total life cycle. • 71% said that they would
• in 7 companies the focus was continue to use elements of
Most companies said that they
on improving the environ- the auditing method.
were now able to apply eco-
mental aspects of production • 90% said that they would
design independently.
processes recommend the project to
• in 9 companies the product • 30% had already applied other companies.
had not yet been improved, but eco-design principles to other
research was being undertaken products. This is an extract from ‘The IC
• in 11 companies the product • 60% said that they would apply EcoDesign project: results and
has not been improved, but eco-design in the future. lessons from a Dutch initiative to
research had been concluded • 25% said that they had implement eco-design in small
• in 6 companies the product developed an eco-design and medium-sized companies’
had not been improved, but checklist to be used during by Carolien G van Hemel, which
research was planned product development. originally appeared in JSPD2,
• in 5 companies the project • 25% wanted to integrate July 1997).



Sustainable product
development: a key factor
for small enterprise
development – the case of
furniture production in the
Purépecha region, Mexico
Dr Diego Maseran
Product Development and Marketing Manager,
Micro-enterprises Support Programme, Kenya

The growing recognition of the sustainable product development

importance of small enterprises1 to (SPD) has the potential to reduce
the economic development and the environmental impact of small
social welfare of developing coun- enterprises and contribute to their
tries has led to the implementation development and sustainability.
of many projects and programmes In the context of small enterprises
Diego Masera studied industrial aimed at assisting such enterprises in developing countries, SPD is
design at ISIA in Florence, Italy. in their development. Many, if not defined as the process which
After working for several years with most, of the approaches have been creates product designs that are
international development organisations geared towards easing financial sustainable in terms of environmen-
in Africa and Latin America, in 1998 constraints by the promotion of tal impact and resource-use whilst
he received a PhD from the Royal credit and to upgrading technical considering the need for the prod-
College of Art in London, UK, for his skills through vocational education. uct. It examines the intensity and
research thesis titled 'Eco-production: Until recently, little attention has optimisation of resource-use in
sustainable product development in been paid to product development product design and the overall
small furniture enterprises in the and production, and its environmen- production efficiency, while taking
Purepecha region of Mexico'. At tal impacts. Product development account of local culture and tastes,
present he manages the product is increasingly being identified by with the aim of improving the prod-
development and marketing various practitioners around the uct's quality to increase market
component of the Micro-enterprises world as a key factor for social opportunities. This paper analyses
Support Programme in Kenya, the enterprise development. the way SPD can contribute to the
main programme of the European The development of small enter- development, and economic and
Union to support micro-enterprises. prises depends on the products environmental sustainability of
He is the author of several articles they make. Greater competition small enterprises. Finally, it
and manuals on product in traditional markets is leading presents some products that have
development for small enterprises to a desperate need for product been designed by Mexican artisans
in developing countries. diversification. The introduction of as a result of the SPD training.



Product development
and sustainability
The goal of sustainable develop-
ment becomes particularly
SPD is
relevant in the context of small
Product development and
enterprises in developing coun- the process
sustainability are a recent
tries. These small enterprises are
combination of terms which
have evolved from the recogni-
fundamental as they provide one which creates
of the few employment opportu-
tion of the importance that
design, manufacturing, material
nities for local people. However, product designs
in many areas these small enter-
choice, product type, use and
final disposal have on the envi-
prises represent a menace to the
that are sustain-
ronment. The recognition of a
single global environment in In the context of small enter- able in terms of
which all activities are inter- prises in developing countries
related and affect each other is SPD is defined as follows: the environment
bringing researchers to an in- SPD is the process which creates
depth recognition of the impor- product designs that are sustainable in and resource-
tance of the design process and terms of the environment and resource-
its relationship to the environ-
mental impact of products. This
use whilst considering the need for the
use whilst
analysis has led towards the
search for more fundamental
SPD is the process of planning considering the
and designing that integrates
changes at design, production
and user levels aimed at moving
the following elements into a
need for the
towards sustainable development:
The process through which all the Resource-use efficiency: in product.
physical and spiritual needs of the terms of both energy and materi-
people of the planet will be perma- als used in the manufacturing,
nently satisfied. Improving (and in and use phase. It also includes
some cases, maintaining) the present the selection of materials,
socio-environmental conditions. favouring the use of local,
renewable, recycled and low
Most of the current focus is on
energy materials and avoiding
reducing the problems of current
those which are scarce or
products, such as:
contain toxic materials.
· improving energy efficiency
Product quality: includes the
in washing machines
use, need and function of the
· making products easy to
product, durability, optimisation
disassemble for re-manufactur-
of the life span, energy
ing to avoid waste problems
efficiency, proper use of
· minimising the amount of
materials and finishing.
materials used in packaging.
Production organisation and
However, there is also an
efficiency: includes optimising
increasingly serious and main-
human and technical manufac-
stream discussion of how we
turing processes in terms of
can make progress towards more
resources, labour and machinery,
fundamental changes, eg. ‘Factor
and the use and development of
x’ levels of energy and resource
appropriate technologies and
renewable energy.



Local culture and capacities: markets for newly designed

Due to lack includes the understanding and products. Product quality
application of local culture and improvement, simplification
of resources, indigenous knowledge, local of product manufacturing
people's needs, traditions, tastes processes, reduction of produc-
information, and capacities (technical and tion time and costs, product
economic) throughout the whole re-design or new product design,
education and process. This means maximising
opportunities for the use of local
can all contribute to the expan-
sion of the market or to help to

isolation, most products for local consumption. identify a niche in the market.
Market: includes the analysis Quality: promoting import
artisans in and search for market opportu-
nities that can make the process
substitution by manufacturing
quality products to replace the
developing economically sustainable. imported products that
‘End of life’: includes considera- consumers might normally buy.
countries tend tions regarding the possible Quality products do not neces-
sarily mean expensive produc-
reuse, disassembly, recycling and
to reduce final disposal of the products. tion processes and machinery –
which will not be available to
In summary, SPD considers the
the majority of the small enter-
economic risks intensity and optimisation of
prises. The production of quality
resource-use for product design,
goods can be achieved by using
by copying while involving local culture and
tastes, and the overall produc-
or adapting existing appropriate
affordable technology. The
what others tion efficiency with the aim of
improving the product’s quality
design of a quality product
should be completed, whilst
to increase market opportunities.
are producing. The incorporation of the long-
considering the existing techno-
logical capacity. Copies of
term environmental, social and
inappropriate designs from
economic considerations at each
other countries will not help
step of the process gives it a new
the process.
dimension. Moreover, SPD
recognises the central responsi- Needs: developing locally made
bility that designers have in goods that are more appropriate
helping to prevent global pollu- to the specific needs and condi-
tion, destruction of tropical tions of the country. Every single
forests, emission of greenhouse product reflects the lifestyle and
gases, through the products they the production environment of
design. the culture in which it was
The introduction of SPD could designed. Participatory training
contribute to the development of local artisans in SPD will
of small enterprises in develop- enhance the local culture
ing countries in eight different expressed in the products and
ways: consequently increase the sales
of those new products that will
Markets: expanding and creating
better respond to the customer's
new national and international
needs and way of life.



Employment: fostering the job countries tend to reduce limited number of designers
creation process. As a result of economic risks by copying what working with small enterprises
the local market creation and others are producing. The devel- in developing countries.
expansion through SPD, more opment of new products tends Moreover, there is a lack of
apprentices will be required in to be the result of a random recognition and awareness about
each workshop, and new jobs process rather than a continuous the design profession by the
will be created. and guided activity. main actors in the sector.

Appropriate technology: Today rural people are faced Due to the recent recognition of
introducing and disseminating with situations they have not the value of SPD in the develop-
'appropriate manufacturing previously encountered, due to ment of small enterprises in
technologies'. New or improved rapid change. In many cases, developing countries, there is
product ideas will lead to the they have reached the point very little experience in SPD
need for, in most cases, the where they cannot sustain their training. Training in SPD can be
creation of technological livelihood within the framework provided to single artisans,
improvements or for the of their existing knowledge, groups of artisans, co-operatives,
necessity of a new technology resources or institutions. In a and artisan associations.
and vice versa. wide range of situations rural
A combination of ‘on the job’
people need assistance to main-
sessions with visits to peers and
Sustainable production: tain the sustainability of their
market places, with a few theo-
reducing the environmental local biomass economy. (van
retical presentations proved the
impact of small enterprises by Gelder and O'Keefe, 1995:8)
most successful approach
making product and production
SPD, as any new activity, amongst the Purépecha people
processes more efficient and
implies a change in the current of Mexico. This new approach
linked to the sustainable
production patterns of small rejected the notion that facts are
production of local forests,
enterprises. It requires a process taught, and encouraged experi-
as well as reducing the use of
of understanding and training ential learning. The training is
toxic materials.
that needs to be initiated and organised with artisans working
Income: increasing the average promoted by organisations in the same sub-sectors ie. furni-
income of artisans by improving concerned with small enterprises ture workshops and metal work-
the product quality and market- and should include professionals shops, with visits to peers and
ing channels as well as reducing trained in the subject (designers). market places designed to
raw material consumption. The role of the designers in SPD increase the artisan's exposure to
training and small enterprise new products, production
‘Quality of life’: contributing to development needs to be recog- processes and customers. This is
the achievement of sustainable nised and enhanced. The pres- critical for artisans that have
development by reducing the ence of designers during the limited access to information.
environmental impact of small training is likely to be a key
The suggested SPD training
enterprises, enhancing commu- element in its success. It is
process should fulfil the
nity participation and contribut- surprising to notice that many
following characteristics:
ing to a better ‘quality of life’ in training projects around the
rural communities. Practical: to be as practical and
world that tackle product devel-
participatory as possible, based
opment are carried out by
on the artisan's own experience
general trainers or professionals
Implementing sustainable and knowledge.
without a design background.
product development This is because design schools Short: to be as short as possible
Due to lack of resources, infor- tend to focus on the creation of to enable participants to be away
mation, education and isolation, designers that suit the needs of from their work as little as possi-
most artisans in developing large industries. Hence, there is a ble, as they rely economically on



Figure 1: ‘Casas Blancas’ chairs

their own labour for income. An example of improved and pine-oak associations). Local
Thinking: to stimulate a process furniture developed by local forests are highly diverse for
temperate areas, presenting more
of thinking and designing, not a artisans in the Purépecha
single product solution. than 10 species of Pinus, and 12
region of Mexico as a result
of Quercus, among many other
Language: to be conducted in of SPD training tree species. Currently, however,
the language of the participants,
The Purépechas, the largest a rapid deforestation process,
not of the trainer.
indigenous group of people in reaching close to 2%/yr (1880
Feedback: to encourage feed- the Michoacan state in Mexico, ha/yr), and a degradation of a
back from the participants have a long and established tradi- large fraction of the forested area
Focused: to work with groups of tion of making wood handicrafts. is taking place (Caro, 1990;
artisans from the same sub-sector It is estimated that more than Alvarez-Icaza and Garibay, 1994).
(eg. carpenters). 150,000 people rely on the Large portions of formerly
Design: to be taught by a production of furniture, wooden forested land have been
qualified trainer with background toys, copper handicrafts, pottery, completely eroded. A combina-
in industrial design and/or and a variety of other products tion of issues creates a very
relevant SPD experience. for their livelihoods. On average competitive context that reduces
one out of four and, in many profit margins to a minimum
Applied: ‘on the job’ training
villages, all residents, work in and poses serious threats to the
and other practical techniques
these small enterprises and most sustainability of the forest
should be used in preference to
earn meagre wages (Castañon, resources in the region: the large
to classroom training sessions.
1993). The area is endowed with number of small enterprises
Market: to expose participants important natural resources (esti- (more than 10,000 – of which
to the market. mated to be 79,000 hectares (ha) 2,800 are furniture workshops)
of forest resources, mostly pine and their regional concentration;



Taking into
that the
products (old
and new) are
almost entirely
made out
of timber
originated from
Figure 2: Comparsion among new and old products
the low product quality and
diversity; inefficiencies in the
livelihoods through the sustain-
able management and use of
forests, the
manufacturing processes; lack of local natural resources. During
technical training; lack of its implementation ‘eco-produc- amount of
support from official institutions; tion’ was developed as an
lack of organisation and training integrated and interdisciplinary timber used is a
opportunities; and lack of manufacturing and planning
financial resources. The search approach. ‘Eco-production’ can good indicator
for cheaper prices for raw provide alternatives to the entire
materials has favoured the use
of illegally harvested timber
wood production cycle, includ-
ing the sustainable management
of their
because of its lower price. These
conditions are also reflected in
and supply of forest resources,
improvements in the small
the products which tend to be
of poor quality and are very
enterprises production processes
and a search for alternative
impact at the
similar in shape and style. market opportunities.
In the region, the author – in As part of the SPD training
co-ordination with a local NGO
called GIRA A.C. and with the
several products were developed,
Figure 1 shows a chair that was
active participation of local arti- developed by artisans of Casas
sans – started a project aimed at Blancas, a small village in the
exploring alternatives to sustain- Purépecha region devoted to the
able development by suggesting production of chairs. The chair
ways that allowed local entre- was produced as a response to
preneurs to earn adequate the critical economic and



Figure 3: New products

Sustainable Product Development (SPD)

Local culture Resource use

and capacities efficiency † Forest
Environmental quality
– impact +
‘End of life’
Product quality
Product organisation
development + Conservation
+ capacity
+ +
Access to
new markets Access to
|+| of life’
Product + Profit
price margins

Figure 4: SPD contributions to small enterprise development



environmental situation that was

highlighted after the initial
sustainably managed forests. The
amount of timber used is a good
The ‘Casas
phases of the SPD training. The indicator of their environmental
chair achieved a series of impact at the production level. Blancas’
improvements from a technical,
environmental and design point
The ‘pesos by unit of material
used’ is an important indicator
chair is just
of view (compared to other
for the economic sustainability
regional products). This has been
of small enterprises. As it is in an example
reflected in its rapid success
direct relation to the increment
among customers.
of the artisan's income (see of the
In order to analyse the character- Figure 2).
istics of the newly designed
The market success of the chair potential
‘Casas Blancas’ chair, a compara-
is also an indicator of the prod-
tive method was used. To deter-
mine the level of improvement
uct quality and the accuracy of benefits
its market orientation. The profit
and reduction of environmental
impact of the new product, it
margin indicates an improvement that the
in the production efficiency. ‘End
was analysed in relation to other
similar chairs. Therefore, this
of life’ considerations in the new
chair included the ease of
comparative analysis provides
information on the new chair
replacement of the seat and
back, through the use of simple
but also contextualises it by
referring to other similar
screws in the assembling process.
products that are regularly The new chair consumes four
produced in the region. times less timber than the
common Opopeo model and half
of SPD training
The comparisons include a series
of ad hoc indicators such as
of other locally produced chairs.
In terms of ‘pesos by board foot
can have in
material intensity, profit margins
used’, the returned value per unit
and ‘pesos by board foot of
of timber used was four times developing
timber’ used. Material intensity
higher than other models.
refers to the extent to which
materials are used in the produc-
Finally, the profit margins countries.
achieved with the ‘Casas Blancas’
tion. The material intensity
chair were 65% compared to
reflects whether or not an opti-
40% average of other models.
mal or economic use has been
made of the material(s) involved. The analysis used focused on the
It also refers to the amount of environmental impact during the
material per unit of product. manufacturing stage of the
Material intensity is particularly products and the economic
relevant in the context of a benefits to the producer (because
region with limited natural it has been carried out from the
resources such as the Purépecha perspective of the local artisans).
region – as it needs to make the Other considerations included
production processes as efficient the need to:
as possible. Taking into consider- · reduce the volume during
ation that the products (old and transportation
new) are almost entirely made · ease of repair and disassembly
out of timber originated from



Sustainable Product Development

Local culture Resource use

and capacities efficiency † Forest
Environmental quality
– impact +
‘End of life’
Product quality
|–| Environmental
Market aspects
Product organisation
development + Conservation
+ capacity
+ +
Access to
new markets Economic Social Access to
aspects aspects education
|+| of life’
Product + Profit
price margins

Figure 5: Impact of SPD

· use of local materials Sustainable product

· no chemical finishing development contributions
· regional distribution. to forest-based small
The ‘Casas Blancas’ chair is just
an example of the potential Figure 4 (see page 34) presents
benefits that the introduction how active involvement of small
and dissemination of SPD train- enterprises in SPD can
ing can have in developing contribute to improving the
countries. Indeed, the produc- conditions of many forest areas
tion and marketing of a new that face similar challenges to
environmentally sound product those of the Purépecha region
that doubled profit margins was and also help to promote
also essential to reinforce the sustainable development. The
commitment of the local figure was developed using the
artisans to work towards forest oval diagramming technique.
conservation. Oval diagramming describes a
problem as a set of complex
relationships among system



variables and variables in the

system environment, and provides
communities’ conservation capac-
ity together with the implementa-
an explicit statement of cause and tion of product development
effect relationships within a activities reduce the environmen- together with
system and between the system tal impact of the small enterprises
and its environment. Variables are which has a direct effect in the increment
in ovals and the connecting improving the forest quality.3
arrows link them together. It
Figure 5 (page 36) underlines the
in investment
allows the analysis of complex
impact of product development in
causes and effects in sequences
social, economic and environ- capacities
that start from a key variable.
mental terms. The economic
The diagram can be read starting elements are represented by the improves the
at the SPD box (top left of page product price, the market, the
34). The implementation of SPD profit margins and the investment possibilities of
increases the possibilities of capacity. The social aspects are
accessing new market channels
and increasing prices by improv-
represented by two variables, a
very general one of ‘quality of
enhancing the
ing products’ quality and design.
The resulting increment in the
life' and the access to education.
Finally the environmental aspects
capacity to
product price (reducing the are represented by the conserva-
production costs by improving the tion capacity, the environmental preserve the
production organisation and tech- impact of small enterprise
nology) increases the profit production and the forest quality. local natural
margins which at the same time The SPD process presented in
increase the investment capacities Figure 4 (page 34) cannot grow resources by
of the artisans2 and the possibility forever and it is limited by the
of carrying out SPD activities. The production volume of small improving their
process tends to be economically enterprises which is determined
self-sufficient by increasing the
artisans’ opportunities to pay for
by the sustainable production
potential of the local forests. The
SPD activities. Moreover, a
continuous increment in profit
local production volume of small
enterprises should not be larger
of the environ-
margins can in the long run than the sustainable forest poten-
increase the ‘quality of life’ of the tial. If the production of small ment and in
artisans by allowing them to have enterprises increases to a level
access to better housing and which requires more timber than many cases
services, and by increasing their the sustainable potential of local
access to education. Education forests, the process will be going back to
together with the increment in reversed. However, this final
investment capacities improves
the possibilities of enhancing the
scenario should be avoided by
sustainable forest management
local traditions
capacity to preserve the local
natural resources by improving
and product certification which
should limit production volume.
of forest
their understanding of the envi-
ronment and in many cases going
use and
back to local traditions of forest
use and management. The incre- Most people in developing coun- management.
mental improvement of the tries depend on small enterprises



for their living. However, the enterprises in developing ing for small enterprises in
markets being served by small countries and the role that developing countries
producers tend to be saturated by designers play in the process. · The results obtained in Mexico
low quality and material inten- Four main points arising from are encouraging and should be
sive products, and suffer from the analysis should be under- replicated in other areas. •
lack of product diversification. lined:
This situation leads to a reduc- · SPD training is essential in the
tion of the profit margins of reduction of the environmental
producers and to pressure over impact of small enterprises in 1
For the purpose of this article
environmental resources. developing countries. It small enterprises are all manufac-
Few studies have focused on the contributes by considering the turing enterprises with less than
role of SPD in improving the low intensity and optimisation of ten employees and an annual
performance of small enterprises resource-use for product turnover of less than
and how designers can improve design, while involving local US$ 15,000.
the process. Furthermore, the culture and tastes, and increas- 2
Artisans are all technically
environmental impact related to ing the overall production
skilled people that work in small
small enterprises’ production efficiency with the aim of
activities has also received improving the product's quality
to create market opportunities The plus sign (+) between
limited attention.
brackets stands for a direct
· Artisans require training to
In this context this article repre- threshold effect. Variable A has
be able to improve their
sents a first step towards a more to increase significantly before
current situation
comprehensive understanding of variable B increases. The vertical
· Designers should get more
the benefits that the implementa- arrow sign stands for an irre-
actively involved in SPD train-
tion of SPD can bring to small versibly increasing relationship.



Alvarez-Icaza, P., and Garibay C. . Cernea, M.M. Primero la Gente. Masera, D., and M. González,
Producción Agropecuaria y Forestal. Variables sociológicas en el desar- Aprovechamiento de la Madera en
Plan Patzcuaro 2000. Toledo V. et al., rollo rural. Fondo de Cultura Talleres Artesanales de CarpinterÌa.
México: Fundacion Friedrich Ebert Económico/Economía Pátzcuaro, Michoacán. México:
Eds, 1994, pp91-133 Contemporánea, 1995, 642 p. Méx. GIRA A.C., 1997.
Bakker, C., Environmental Masera, D., and R. Okangaa, Scrap
Information for Industrial Designers. INEGI, Encuesta Nacional Ejidal vol Metal Recycling, a Product
Rotterdam, The Netherlands: II. Mexico: INEGI, 1988. Development oriented study of the
Technische Universiteit Delft, 1995 Informal Sector. Undugu Nairobi.
Unknown, Michoacán Hablantes de
Kenya, 1995.
Barret, L., and E. Datschefski, Lengua IndÌgena. Mexico: INEGI,
A Manager’s Introduction to Product 1996. Masera, D., and J. Sana, Product
Design and the Environment, The Development for the Informal Sector.
Lélé, S. M., A Framework for
Environment Council. 13pp, London, Kenya: Undugu Society of Kenya,
Sustainability and its Application in
1997 1994.
Visualizing a Peaceful and
Becker, C. D., and E. Ostrom, Human Sustainable Society. Berkeley, Unknown, Produt Dvelopment
Ecology and Resource Sustainability: California: University of California, Training Module. Kenya: ILO, 1992.
The Importance of Institutional 1991.
Putz, F. E. Approaches to Sustainable
Diversity. Ecological Systems 26:
Unknown, Sustainability: A Plural, Forest Management. Indonesia:
1995, pp113-33 .
Multi-Dimensional Approach. International Forestry Research
Burger, K., Rapid Market Appraisal Berkeley, California: University of (CIFOR). 1994, 7pp.
for Micro and Small Enterprises: California, 1993.
Redclift, M. Sustainable
background and first experiences.
Masera, D., Recycling and re-using Development: Exploring the
Amsterdam: FIT, 1995
in Kenya. UK: Appropiate Technology Contradictions. London: Routledge,
Caro, R., La Problem·tica Forestal en Magazine vol 3 n.2, June, 1997. 1987.
la Meseta Tarasca. Los Problemas
Unknown. Product Development for Roy, R., Proposal For an Educational
Medio-Ambientales de Michoac·n
the Informal Sector in Kenya. UK: Module on Sustainable Product
Zamora, Michoacán. México: El
Appropiate Technology Magazine Development. Holland: United
Colegio de Michoacán, 1990
vol2 n.2, September, 1994. Nations Environment Programme
Castañon, L. E., Artesanos Working Group on Sustainable
Masera, D., and F. Bedini, Local
Purépechas. Análisis Económico y Product Development, 1997.
Farmers Innovate in Irrigation: The
Social de los Determinantes de la
Development of Low-Cost Sprinklers Upton, Ch., and St. Bass, The Forest
Productividad. Pátzcuaro,
in Kenya, Indigenous Knowledge and Certification Handbook. UK: St. Lucie
Michoacán: INI, 1993
Development Magazine 2, no. 1, Press, 1996
van Gelder, B., and O’Keefe P., The
New Forester. London, UK: IT
Publications, 1995.



Launch of the ‘Smart’, environmentally

considered city car

The fuel-efficient ‘Smart’ car from German car maker

Daimler-Benz was launched in October 1998 with a
prominent message of environmental protection and
resource conservation.

The Smart’s life cycle phases incorporate strict

environmental concerns from development and production
through to use and recycling. Daimler-Benz are ISO 14001
accredited and thus all activities are supported by an
environmental management system. A 100% powder
paint coating system is being used for the first time which
emits no solvents, uses no lead or cadmium and creates
no hazardous waste such as paint slurry.

Visible exterior and interior

areas and even some highly
stressed parts contain a high
percentage of recycled materials.
Recyclability is encouraged by
using single-material systems
(coloured thermoplastic) and by
standardising joining elements.
Finally, the modular construction
means that the Smart car can
be dismantled at low cost
and its parts can be recycled.



All green for orange – the Flymo experience

Flymo/Partner – Europe’s largest lawnmower manufacturer

recently celebrated its ISO14001 accreditation. A priority for
Flymo is to develop products with lower weight and materials
usage, lower operating noise, and, with an increased product
and packaging recyclability.

In the manufacturing process, Flymo reports significant

improvements following the implementation of environmental
management systems. Particularly significant has been the
minimisation of waste through the segregation and recycling
of waste materials. Overall, process waste has been reduced from
3.7% in 1996 to 2.6% last year. Waste to landfill is down from
51% in 1996 to 36% in 1997 and the percentage of waste recycled
is up from 47% in 1996 to 62% in 1997. Solvents have also been
eliminated from the production process. Packaging has been
another area of environmental improvement with 80% now using
recycled cardboard.

left: Venturer 320 lawnmower, efficient in its use of

materials and with an operating noise of only 77db

Plastic bottle cap to office chair

HAG has produced one of the world’s

first office chairs made from recycled
plastic (polypropylene). Through the
Norwegian bottle return system, used
bottle caps separated from returned
bottles are collected, ground up and
converted into new plastic raw material.
This is then sent to Dynoplast, HAG’s
business partner, to produce the seat and
back shells for HAG’s new ‘Scio’ chair. It is
estimated that 100 tonnes of plastic bottle
caps are used every year by this project.



Cyclic, solar, safe –

BioDesign's solution
requirements for
Edwin Datschefskii
Founder, BioThinking International, UK

Most environmental problems are metabolic boost in the form of

caused by the unintentional side- fossil and nuclear power, and
effects of the manufacture, use and which ecologists might charac-
disposal of products. Improvements terise as ‘nucleo-fossilivore’
achieved via eco-efficiency is a driven, as opposed to photovore
good start, but by itself is not (plant) driven. Mankind relies
enough. Only by mimicking natural on both flows for its continued
Edwin Datschefski is the founder systems can we create an industrial prosperity.
of BioThinking International, a system that is truly viable and
The tree is an excellent model
non-profit organisation that uses sustainable. Tomorrow’s bio-
for a sustainable materials
biological principles to develop new designed products will match or
processing system. Its inputs
thinking for industry, management, exceed the look and performance
and outputs are part of entirely
government and education. of today’s products and will be
closed-loop cycles, it’s solar
After studying Biology at Bristol cyclic, solar and safe.
powered and produces no
University, he spent five years
persistent toxins.
working on business and
environmental protection issues
Introduction Industrial systems are deficient
for The Environment Council, and here are two main materials in those cyclic, solar and safe
five years as a consultant for
blue chip corporations, central
T flows on this planet, both
driven by collections of free
characteristics. One implication
is that resources will eventually
and local government. Since 1994, agents. The first is made up of run out, and although the time
Edwin has trained over 4000 people. DNA (deoxyribonucleic acid) horizon on this, typically 250
organisms, which has been years by most estimates, is longer
operating for 3.85 billion years than current planning cycles, it
and is ‘sustainable’ by anyone’s does mean that this industrial
definition. The second is model is already halfway dead.
comprised of companies that More importantly, the toxic by-
compete for energy and materials products of mineral resource
flows in much the same way, and flows are affecting natural habi-
which has been operating for tats and reducing the value of
only 250 years. The ‘biothinking’ renewable material and genetic
approach is to regard the global resources.
industrial system as another life To use a timely metaphor – the
form – one which has an extra global operating system is giving



us lots of error messages

because our software is not
does not make environmental
problems disappear, and because
The ‘biothinking’
compatible. of threshold effects, may not
alleviate environmental approach says:
problems at all – for example,
Only 0.001% dumping less pollution into a when activity
Only about 0.001% of industrial river can still kill all the fish…
products and services on the
Environmental Management equals damage,
market today could be described
Systems (EMSs) such as ISO14001
as having good environmental
performance or being ‘bio-
offer a framework to drive don’t try to
progress. But many firms have
compatible’. A relative handful
of firms have already come up
not been sufficiently rigorous in reduce
identifying their environmental
with eco-product innovations –
and there are may be 1000 truly
aspects, and so their system
simply manages a smaller subset
bio-compatible products on the
market – out of an estimated
of the real problems. EMSs don’t
do much to foster innovation,
impact by trying
100 million products on sale
are not suited to smaller firms,
worldwide. Pressure for change
and can tie up staff time in
to reduce the
is coming from legislators,
setting up systems and monitor-
customers and campaign groups,
ing and reporting progress, amount of
but somewhere down the line
rather than developing and
somebody has to come up with
better products, services and
using new solutions. activity –
The idea behind ‘Factor X’ is
processes – the role of product
and business concept design is laudable, but ecological theory change the
crucial. shows us that ecosystems,
whether industrial or DNA based, activities so
strive to maximise throughput of
Efficiency in energy and energy and materials. While each that they are
materials use is a blind alley product or species may develop
Being eco-efficient has clear
through competition to become
very efficient in their use of
cost benefits, primarily because
a firm can sell the same chunk
energy and materials, the
number of individuals will
and cause no
of material to more people.
increase, as will the number of
Environmental benefits also
accrue in theory because there
species, giving the whole system damage.
the same, or more likely an
is a reduction in upstream
increased, level of total energy
production impacts. But in the
and material throughput.
end eco-efficiency does not
deliver sustainability. There are The ‘biothinking’ approach says:
limits to efficiency gains, limits When activity equals damage, don’t
which are both practical and try to reduce environmental impact
thermo-dynamic, and further by trying to reduce the amount of
improvement becomes harder activity – change the activities so
and more expensive per kg or that they are biocompatible and
kWh saved. Reducing emissions cause no damage.



Because it has been assumed that continuous ‘closed loop’, with hand.
all industrial products must cause the emphasis on re-use rather
Re-use and recycling are not
some environmental damage, than reprocessing. Leasing,
always strictly cyclic, especially
the focus has been simply on rather than selling, products
for organic materials. For exam-
reducing throughput as a proxy containing such materials elimi-
ple, in December 1998, some
for reducing impacts, instead of nates the concept of waste –
over-enterprising florists in
working towards bio-compatibil- customers may use them as long
Newcastle, UK, were caught
ity. as they wish, but when the end-
taking flowers from graves,
user is finished with their TV,
Now there is a shift towards and then selling them again.
carpet or washing machine, it
breaking down industrial A laudable example of product
goes back to the factory for
products into two categories: takeback, but it earned them a
remanufacture. Materials that are
· those which are biocompatible nine month prison sentence. It
grown should be processed in a
· those which are not. was also more about materials
way that allows their eventual
life extension than being truly
digestion by animals, plants or
cyclic. If they mulched down the
BioDesign for micro-organisms when they
flowers when they finally died
reach their programmed ‘end of
industrial systems and put them as compost of the
life’. Products that have combi-
next crop of daffodils, then that
How can we set about a re- nations of these two types of
would have been cyclic.
design of the highly complex material must include a system
industrial system in a practical for disassembly by the end-user The rise in takeback will benefit
way? The idea that man-made or on takeback. firms involved in reverse logistics
systems and natural ones can be – whoever will be the new
Examples of fully cyclic products
made compatible is not new. ‘Fedex of Waste and Takeback’
include returnable glass or poly-
Hardin Tibbs defined the goal will double their business!
carbonate drink containers,
of industrial ecology to be
Interface’s ’Evergreen’ carpet
‘to model the systemic design of
leasing product, and ’film with Solar
industry on the systemic design
lens' cameras. Using recycled
of the natural system... to improve The solar requirement means
materials in manufacture is a step
efficiency of industry and find more that all materials flow and energy
towards full cyclicity, and some
acceptable ways of interfacing it use is powered by photosyn-
firms, such as IBM’s keyboard
with nature’. thesis, muscle or renewable
division, have adopted ‘closed
energy. This covers products
What ‘biothinking’ offers is a loop’ recycling for elements of
with mounted photovoltaic (PV)
simple framework: their products. German choco-
solar cells, or those hooked up
· cyclic late maker Loser makes use of a
to a mains supply powered by
· solar handy consumer bio-digestion
wind, wave, biomass, or PV,
· safe system – the trays in its boxes
through to products that are
are made of edible wafer.
which will guide product grown or operated by hand. This
development towards the Financially, product takeback also applies to ‘embodied
essentials of sustainability. means that manufacturers can energy’ – the energy used to
sell the same thing twice – provide or service or to manu-
something that current laws tend facture and distribute a product.
Cyclic not to encourage, and which
PV cells are being produced for
The cyclic requirement means refurbishers such as Xerox, Dell
power stations in unprecedented
that materials are either recycled and ICL are having to work on –
numbers, and prices per installed
in a ‘closed loop’ or are edible their refurbished products are
Watt are tumbling. A PV-
or compostable. There is no technically the same standard as
powered PV factory has been
option for landfill or incinera- new ones, but in some countries
designed, known as a ’solar
tion. Minerals are cycled in a the law regards them as second-
breeder'. Cells built into



BioDesign: ten tips to be cyclic, solar and safe

Almost all environmental innova- 4 Mimic nature’s materials are harvested and they are
tion so far has been in one or two with their elegant solutions to made into cricket bats. All
of the Cyclic, Solar, Safe, and structural problems. Spider’s products are disposable in the
Efficient categories. The next step webs, feathers, mother of pearl, end, so plan for takeback even
is to achieve high levels in all four deer antlers and butterfly wings if it’ll happen in 20 or 50 years.
parameters at the same time. Here are just a few examples that Alternatively, try to be immortal,
are some tips for design inspired have inspired recent innova- like the 800 year old Japanese
by nature: tions. temple which is still regarded
1 Get microbes to do the work as totally original even though
5 Exquisitely fine control is
such as digestion by bacteria every bit of the building’s fabric
found in the metabolism of
for compost toilets, bioremedia- has been replaced over the
living systems, something which
tion clean-up of toxic waste, centuries, or like Porsche and
maximises the use of materials.
and cardboard coffins. Or use Rolls Royce cars, almost all of
Make systems respond on
higher animals, such as eel which are still on the road.
demand (like the Ecoflush toilet
farms making use of warm with a dial for High, Medium 8 Muscle power is a form of solar
waste water, and edible pack- and Low settings), use senses energy, which is used in the
aging. and feedback loops (like ther- Brox human power vehicle,
2 ‘Gene’ recombination is the mostats and presence sensors), Eco-Drive quartz watches and
key to nature’s innovation. and make use of everything which can be stored with
Recombine existing, proven (like Chinese cookery or the clockworks, compressed air
approaches instead of pioneer- printworks which makes bird- or flywheels.
ing substantially newer tech- boxes out of pallets that are
9 Photon power is the secret to
nologies. Evolution always beyond repair). The solar-
life on Earth. Photosynthesis
takes what is to hand and then powered fan in the sun roof of
can be a key energy provider
builds the unexpected from a parked Audi automatically
via biofuels and biomass, and
reliable parts fitted together in matches demand – as the
plants are being used for a wide
new ways. The same is true of hotter the day, the more
variety of industrial purposes
business innovations. Of over cooling is needed and the
such as oils, fibres and plastics
1.5 million patents analysed in faster the fan rotates.
– for example soya crayons,
Genrikh Altshuller’s TRIZ study, 6 Generalists are more adaptable Unpetroleum Jelly, Citrasolv
over 90% were found to be than specialists, especially in degreaser, Earth Shell packag-
variations on solutions already times of change. Think of ing, and cornstarch pens.
in existence, often from within crows, foxes, and coyotes Photovoltaics (PV) are
the same industry. An example adapting to city life. particularly useful for local
– use biogas to power a fuel Multifunctionality also ensures and mobile applications.
cell. maximum utility, rather than
10 Seasonal variations are
3 Revive and recolonise – having a specialist tool which is
inevitable, so work with them.
sometimes a locally extinct used once a year, for example.
Natural systems are tolerant of
species or product may reap- PC/TVs and fax/scan/printer/
flux and have strategies for
pear if conditions are right, like copiers are other examples.
feast and famine, winter and
otters on the Thames in the UK, 7 Think ahead a long time. In summer, and so should new
cargo sailing ships, native south-west England, land- products. PCs now hibernate
herbal remedies and the owners sometimes plant a when not in use. Grass roofs
Jurassic Park dinosaurs. Look stand of willow trees when a insulate in winter and the
through the amber of history for daughter is born, to pay for her plants’ transpiration cools in
potential new product DNA. wedding – when the willows summer.



A 1998 study
Cyclic (C)
by Cornell
C-So Biocompatible
in the US…
estimates that Safe (Sa)

40% of deaths So-Sa

Solar (So)
are caused by Figure 1: The BioDesign solution space

pollution such appliances have also appeared on
calculators, robot lawnmowers,
(OECD) guidelines. Testing
products in use, their breakdown
radios, watches, refrigerated products and relevant mixtures
as air pollution lorries, mobile phones, boats, would be very costly – testing
bikes, cars, smoke alarms, just one substance costs £3
and water hearing aids, cameras and million. The implication is that
even cappuccino makers. some or many of these untested
contamination. Human-powered technologies compounds are toxic, and of
are also enjoying a renaissance particular concern are those
with the clockwork radio and compounds which are persistent
‘kinetic’ quartz watches. and bioaccumulative. A 1998
study by Cornell University in
The business implications of
the US – to be taken with a
renewables are long term but
‘pinch of salt’ but placed here
profound – it’s basically energy
for context – estimates that 40%
for free.
of deaths worldwide are caused
by environmental pollution such
Safe as air pollution and water
’Don’t kill your customers’
seems like a sound maxim. But To be safe a product or process
the European Environment has to be free from toxic releases
Agency (EEA) reports that for at all stages. So what is meant by
75% of the 2–3,000 large volume ‘safe’? The legal definition of
chemicals on the market there ‘special waste’ in the UK is
is insufficient toxicity data defined in the Control of
publicly available for the most Pollution Act (1974) Special
basic risk assessment under Waste Regulations (1980) as
Organisation of Economic ‘materials which, if a 45 cubic
Cooperation and Development centimetre sample was ingested



by a child of up to 20kg in · % solar – % of total energy example, Rohner Textil’s fabric is

weight, it is likely to cause death and embodied energy that is fully biodegradable, but will it
or serious tissue damage’. In from renewable sources actually get separated from the
vernacular terms, ‘safe’ means · % safe – % of lifetime releases chairs (which are made by
that a person should be able to that are non-toxic. another firm) at the end of their
eat a handful or drink a glass of life and properly composted?
it. It also implies that a factory’s It is then possible to average Are renewables used to power
water inlet should be down- these scores to give a single all the factories in the chain?
stream of its waste pipe. number sustainability index.
Craft products and organic
There is a mistaken assumption The BioDesign solution space can smallholdings, locally sold, are
that to be effective, a ‘nasty be imagined as being an xyz 3D among the tiny handful of
chemical’ is necessary. In a graph with the axes being cyclic, today’s products that meet all
now-famous example, Rohner solar and safe (see Figure 1). three requirements. Yet we are
Textil commissioned an analysis Some solutions are Cyclic and on the cusp of seeing many
of 8,000 chemicals used in fabric Solar, some are Solar and Safe, more. Several of the examples
manufacture, and found only 38 some are Cyclic and Safe, and the above would qualify if their
that were completely free of any furthest corner of the volume is local utility company was hydro-
concerns about being mutagenic, Biocompatible. electric or other renewable,
teratogenic, causing birth or if they could contract with a
defects, genetic mutations, or specialist renewables-only supply
cancer. Fortunately, they could Business benefits firm where the local market is
get all the colours and meet all of BioDesign deregulated.
the performance criteria such as There are five key business An entirely biocompatible
fire retardance and strength with benefits for firms which adopt industrial system would look
fabric made using just these 38 cyclic, solar and safe processes: very similar to that of today.
compounds. The other superior
· avoidance of non-compliance Biomaterials are showing
aspect is that the effluent coming
and liability and related costs enormous promise. The ‘carbo-
out of the plant met Swiss
· higher labour intensity and hydrate economy’ is already
drinking water standards, causing
upsizing starting to displace unsustainable
pollution inspectors to think
· more value from a given mass incumbents with fuels, drugs and
their equipment was broken.
of raw materials plastics that are grown from
Needless to say, the absence of
seed. For example, cars would
compliance requirements and · superior product performance
run on fuel cells powered by
pollution abatement equipment and consumer acceptability
biogas, or solar-generated hydro-
meant useful cost savings. · early colonisation of new
gen. Trains would look identical,
product and service areas.
but be run with renewable elec-
Sustainability indicators tricity, and their interiors would
Conclusion – a be built from plant fibres (a
If all an organisation’s activities
biocompatible future luggage rack is being piloted in
are 100% cyclic, solar and safe,
Denmark already), the seating
across the full lifecycle of all Meeting one or two of the fabrics would be organic and
materials used, then that organi- ‘biothinking’ requirements safely dyed, and the metals
sation would be sustainable. represents a major step forward would be part of an ongoing
This means that we can score any for any product. But to be a true ‘closed loop’ reprocessing
organisation or product accord- component of a sustainable system. Food would be grown
ing to: industrial ecosystem, all aspects using manure and sewage cycling
· % cyclic – % of total materials of the product’s life must meet systems, and would have no
that are continuously cycled all three requirements. For persistent or accumulative



chemical applications or known as ‘maximum power’. The the maintenance of biodiversity,

artificial fertilisers. constraints on energy and mate- and choices about allocation of
rials will simply be the ability to land and water, and access to
Once the whole of the industrial
pay for them – in other words, light, but the fundamental prob-
system is biocompatible, some-
classic supply and demand or lems of our current unsustain-
thing which may happen by
ecological competition. For a ability – toxics, fossil fuels and
2100, then energy or materials
crowded world, it may well be linear resource flows – will have
saving will become redundant as
that many products and been solved. •
a method for reducing environ-
processes will be more efficient
mental impact – a good thing, as
than today – but efficiency by The Environmental Innovator’s
energy saving is fundamentally
itself will not be the main route Resource provides a free on-line
unnatural. Any ecosystem will
to environmental improvement. course and over 100 product examples
tend to maximise its use of
energy and throughput of mate- There will still be important
rials – an ecological effect environmental concerns about




· Plastic bags, wellington boots, recycled into a fibre for carpets heavily-trafficked areas such
video cassettes, computer and clothes. as hotels, airports and offices.
keyboard casings, letter trays, Instead, under its EverGreen
· Leasing of carpets and office
plant pots, and benches are lease, the carpet squares are
chairs allows them to be
among many products made rotated frequently for even use,
returned to the supplier for
from recycled plastics. and, when worn out, returned to
remanufacture, creating a
the company, which someday
· BioComposite fibre boards are closed loop.
hopes to depolymerise the
made from waste cartons
· Toner cartridges are now carpets and use them as the
(Tectan by Tetrapak, as used in
routinely remanufactured and raw materials for new ones.
some Sony speaker cabinets),
refilled, albeit in relatively small
or soy flour and recycled · Retailers are increasingly
numbers at present.
newsprint (Phenix adopting Reusable Secondary
Biocomposites), which can · AT&T’s Definity Telephone Packaging in the form of stack-
be milled, sawed, drilled and is designed for disassembly and able plastic containers. Firms
nailed and is harder than oak. recycling at the ‘end of life’. such as Boots and Marks &
Spencer (M&S) use these to
· Compost is made from old · Companies are ‘closing
transport goods from the depots
German banknotes. the loop’ by taking their prod-
to stores, sending back empty
ucts back at the end of (their)
· Refurbished equipment such containers on the same vehicle.
useful lifespan and using
photocopiers (Xerox), car This saves considerable
them to create valuable new
engines and computers (Dell, amounts of cardboard, and the
products. For example, GE
Compaq and ICL) makes use constainers last for many trips.
Plastics in Pittsfield, US, has
of old machines, saving them
created durable, lightweight · Pallet pricing is a technique
from the landfill and reducing
Lexan milk bottles that can be used to ensure that pallets are
manufacturing costs – while
sterilized and reused up to 100 returned for re-use – otherwise
still achieving desired product
times, then melted and used for the customer loses the deposit
other high-value products, so money (of about $20 per pallet).
· Erasers are made from that the original polymers may However, some ‘clever people’
recycled car tyres by still be in use 100 years from have noticed disparities in the
Tombow in Japan. now. amount charged per pallet –
and played the resulting
· Recycled polyethylene (PET) · Interface no longer sells its
system, by developing profits
from old fizzy drinks bottles is carpets, which are used in
of up to $10 per pallet net!




· Solar calculators, lawnmowers, from crops such as rapeseed. · Electric vehicles, both battery
radios, watches, refrigerated While they give off carbon and fuel cell driven are included
lorries, mobile phones, boats, dioxide (CO2) when burnt, this here because their power will
bikes, cars, smoke alarms, CO2 is part of the current eventually all be provided by
hearing aids, cameras and even carbon cycle, not adding to non-fossil and non-nuclear
cappuccino makers are all it as fossil fuels do. sources. In Japan, Toyota has
examples of current uses of sold more than 10,000 of its
· Straw bale construction
photovoltaic (PV) technology. hybrid-electric 51mpg ’Prius’
methods result in huge
Over their lifetime, these cars in Japan in the first 6
savings in embodied energy.
devices are typically replacing months since its launch in
battery-powered versions · Solar PV wall cladding is December 1997.
which would otherwise cheaper than polished granite
· Folding bicycles by Brompton,
consume ten or twenty times or marble.
Bernd, Moulton and Birdy allow
their own weight in disposable
· Seiko’s Kinetic Watch and cyclists to take their bikes on
batteries, or perhaps twice their
Citizen’s Ecodrive range provide trains and keep them inside
own weight in rechargables.
quartz accuracy without offices, removing two of the
· Bio-fuels are made from batteries by converting body major barriers to urban cycling.
fermented sugar alcohols or oils movement into electricity.


· Greenfreeze fridges have no and occupants, and reducing · Cockroach removal using the
chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs), smog-forming volatile organic Zap-Trap, a non-poisonous
hydrochlorofluorocarbons compound (VOC) releases. insect trap designed by British
(HCFCs) or hydrofluorocarbons entomologists uses an exclu-
· CARE refrigerants for air
(HFCs), but use a propane/ sive non-poisonous pheromone
conditioning systems are also
butane mix instead, resulting in lure to bring the cockroaches to
free of CFCs, HCFCs and HFCs.
zero ozone (O3) depletion a safe electrified trap and sticky
potential and about a hundred · Correction fluids are now glue tray.
times less global warming almost all lower solvent or
potential. water based.

· Solvent Free Paint, especially · Soy ink, waterless printing,

gloss paint, produces no and laser film are the current
emissions on drying, reducing current best practice
impacts on health of painters techniques in printing.



Efficiency: materials and energy

· British Telecom’s Residential casing materials, although the Michelin save 5% by reducing
Phone Book now has 4 columns chipsets inside are about the rolling resistance. Window
of text on each page, not 3, same as desktop machines and envelopes that can be resealed
due to a layout change and a so have similar impacts – the and sent back with payment are
typeface specially designed to manufacture of a single increasingly popular with
be legible at smaller sizes. pentium chip produces about energy and water companies,
20kg of CO2, 300 litres of waste saving an envelope with each
· Concentrated washing
water and 90g of hazardous bill – probably saving 200
powders save up to 40% of
waste. tonnes of paper a year in the
packaging and transport
UK alone.
impacts · Thinner copier paper that is
75gsm instead of the typical · Inflatable furniture such as
· Volkswagen’s Ecomatic model
80, 90 or even 100 grammes per IKEA a.i.r. means an armchair
of their popular Golf model has
square metre means instant weighs 95% less than a
an engine which cuts out going
savings as the environmental conventional armchair, a
downhill! Instantly started again
impact of paper manufacture is massive saving on materials.
with a tap on the accelerator,
directly proportional to the Previous inflatable chairs and
this car has revealed that the
mass of paper made. Using less sofas used PVC, but these new
engine typically can be
paper by weight (rather than by designs use an olefin plastic
switched off 30% of the time.
number of sheets) can make which improves on leak
· Toner-only laser printers such more of a difference to the performance and has an
as those made by Kyocera and environment than worrying attractive texture as well.
OKi have a long-life drum, about the differences between
· A ’bag for life’ is being tried by
unlike most other types of Elemental Chlorine Free (ECF)
supermarkets such as Waitrose
printer, where both the drum and Totally Chlorine Free (TCF),
in order to try and reduce the
and toner are replaced each for example.
amount of disposable plastic
· Waterless urinals save 40% shopping bags used. The
· Packaging has seen many of office water use – they are customer purchases an
’lightweighting’ innovations, cost-effective and don’t smell! especially sturdy plastic bag
for example: J Sainsbury’s Currently in use at the UK for 10p (15 cents) and uses this
garlic bread dispensed with the Environment Agency’s own for shopping, and if it wears out,
cardboard outer, and now only offices, as well as tabloid the bag is replaced for free.
has a plastic sleeve, saving 80% newspaper The Sun and many
· ‘Quality’ products in general,
of packaging. Duracell’s battery other sites.
from Barbour jackets to Swiss
packaging is now cardboard-
· Presence sensors for watches, cost more but last
only, making it recyclable. It is
escalators (in the Vienna longer – however, they also
also tamper proof, something
Metro), flushes, and lighting tend to be more solidly built
which had previously only been
allow energy and water to be than their cheaper alternatives,
achieved by using a polyvinyl
matched exactly with demand. so the mass: lifetime ratio may
chloride (PVC) blister pack.
not always be more favourable.
Marks & Spencer (M&S) mince · Bagless vacuum cleaners such
pies are sold in a corrugated, as the Dyson save a bag each · Multifunction equipment can
rimless foil cup which is 10% time, and new models are mean considerable savings in
lighter than the conventional available which are made manufacturing impacts, the
rimmed type. from recycled plastic and increasingly popular fax/
remanufactured parts. scanner/copier/printer
· Laptop computers use 90%
combination being a good
less energy, and use 90% less · Energy saver tyres eg. by



Customers – the
forgotten stakeholders
Emma Prentis and Hedda Bird|
Director and Managing Director Conservation
Communications, UK

Emma Prentis is a Director of The paper suggests that considera- these include:
Conservation Communications. She tion of customers is usually · supply chain management
was previously European Environmental excluded from strategic environ- · operational cost avoidance
Manager with in Nortel’s corporate mental thinking. However, and cost savings
environment and sustainability function customers hold the key to the
· continuous improvement
with responsibility for developing environment team’s strategic
and quality management
strategy and programmes to support ‘added value’ as they drive the
· stakeholder dialogue
Nortel’s marketing aned strategic business. The authors give practi-
· ‘Design for Environment’
business planning functions. Prior to cal advice on how to ‘green’
joining Nortel, Ms Prentis worked with marketing, using an example of
BT for seven years. She has a Masters work completed with Nortel.
All of these are valid activities
in Environment Science and is a that can deliver environmental
Director of the UK Institute of and financial business benefit.
Environmental Management (IEM).
However the authors of the
nvironmental activity in
Hedda Bird joined Conservation
Communications in 1986 and was
E organisations must demon-
strate market (ie. customer)
paper argue that while benefits,
can and do, accrue from these
appointed Managing Director in actions the business value of
value if they are to deliver the
1988. She has developed the these activities are rarely strong
genuine, fundamental change in
company from a specialist promotor of enough on their own to
business behaviour that is
recycled paper products to a leading influence strategic business
required by the concepts of
environmental communications and thinking and direction. For
‘Business Sustainability’ and the
research consultancy. Ms Bird has an example, cost savings rarely
‘triple bottom line’. The need to
MSc in Mathematics and Philosphy transform overall company
clearly identify market value
from London University and recently results. Indeed corporate strat-
from environmental activities is
obtained an MBA from Warwick egy makers regard continuous
well understood; however, it is
University in the UK. cost improvement as part of
often regarded as being too
operational performance indica-
difficult or just plain impossible.
tors. A Board of Directors will
Indeed the ability to make a
not cost reduce itself into a new
bottom-line case for strategic
strategic direction! Thus if
environmentalism is fast becom-
‘Environment’ is about cost
ing the Holy Grail of the envi-
cutting, it will not be presumed
ronmental business movement.
to have anything to add to strat-
A variety of methods are egy development.
currently used to show the
Similarly stakeholder dialogues
financial benefits of improved
by many organisations do not
environmental performance;
include customers in the



process! Even though it is ‘Bulldozing the Green Wall’ rarely move into environ-
clearly their customers _stakeholders are identified as mental roles
requirements and products ‘local community members, · failure of ‘green’ products
and services the media, financial markets, in the market place.
that are central to the focus investors and employees’.
The question then is how can
of business strategists. Not a customer in sight! The
we overcome barriers such as
Without ‘Customers’, the arguments for not including
these to become market
findings of stakeholder customers are usually –
dialogues, no matter how customers don’t understand
interesting, are of minimal the issues, customers cannot
strategic focus to the rest of be expected to know our Market analysis –
the organisation. As the quote business, its too technical, the business case
from a Tomorrow Magazine customers are only interested
The discussion so far has
article (Frankel, 1998) on city in price and always – they
demonstrated that environ-
analysts stated, a key strategy don’t care. The authors’ expe-
ment teams must be market
is to: rience is that such an attitude
and customer focused if they
‘increase demand-side pressure. will not enable the environ-
are to be of strategic impor-
When the world markets start to ment team to be a success in
tance to the business. Being
demanding environmentally superior influencing the business.
market focused means estab-
performance, the investment Some of the reasons why lishing environment as a core
community will take notice’_. reluctance to engage value with product, procure-
customers has developed are ment and marketing managers
outlined below:
Customers – the of your key customers. To
· early environmental achieve this, the authors
value strategy
pressure was focused on recommend a combination
The authors contend that manufacturing organisations of market analysis and direct
while the strategies from NGOs and not directly customer contact (through
mentioned in the introduc- from customers carefully managed workshops/
tion ‘add value’ to the busi-
· long distribution chains for focus groups).
ness through cost reduction
goods and services place
and enhanced corporate The ultimate objective is to
many organisations at a
image, in terms of core busi- have your key customer’s
distance from their end
ness activity the value is value and become engaged in
user customers
marginal. However add to the process of environmental
· many direct customer improvement of your prod-
these activities a strong
contacts on environmental ucts and services. In order to
customer, market focus and
issues are perceived as get access to your customers
environment teams will be
negative ie. customer to begin the process of
in a position of power.
complaints or queries engagement it is advisable to
· environmental teams undertake an integrated envi-
Customer focus – may perceive talking to ronmental market analysis.
environment blind spot customers will only stir up This will provide a clear view
more complaints, misunder- of environmental market
Environment teams are used
standings or expectations trends, risks and opportunities
to going to every stakeholder
which cannot be fulfilled and provide knowledge on
group to seek support except
· environmental people tend which customers to start with
customers. Indeed, not all
to be technical, scientific by and how.
environment teams even
training rather than commu-
identify customers as relevant The market analysis should
nication, marketing focused
stakeholders in consultation include at a minimum:
processes. For example in · sales and marketing people



· customers The objective of the market Techniques for engaging

· competitors review was to demonstrate to customers
· legislation business managers that environ-
Customer data is a crucial part
ment can be a market force
and in addition you could add: of any market dynamics
capable of influencing Nortel’s
· voluntary standards research. However, the process
product and services, that is to
· technical opportunities of first engaging customers needs
say Nortel’s core business activ-
to be carefully managed. If these
· investors ity. The reality remains that for
initial contacts within the
· best practice. most managers ‘environment’ is
customer base are not carefully
not a significant market driver on
The final list will be dependent handled you are likely to find
a ‘day to day’ basis. However the
upon the specific nature of your yourself back into the
combined review of environ-
own organisation and its busi- ‘customers don’t care’ mode
mental market dynamics in rela-
ness objectives. of operation.
tion to Nortel’s business strategy
A key point is to analyse the proved to them it could be, and, An important point to remember
environmental information with in a few small markets it might is that you need to identify the
respect to the strategic direction be already. ‘right’ customers ie. individuals
of your business. Demonstrate within the customer organisation
Nortel business managers were
where environmental excellence who have either influence or
used to hearing about legislation.
will contribute to achieving key power over procurement deci-
The competitor and customer
business objectives and always sions regarding your products
data linked to the business
use the same language as that and services. There are many
objectives helped them to
used by the Businesses Units you surveys that point to the increas-
understand the context of how
are seeking to influence. A case ing trends in environmental and
changing societal attitudes,
will make this clear. ethical consumerism; there are
regulatory trends and voluntary
also numerous corporate envi-
standards could have a genuine
ronmental reports, which indi-
bearing on core business activity
Case example: Nortel cate customers are active on
and even present competitive
Nortel has an excellent environ- environmental issues. However
mental reputation with its peers the reality is general customer
While techniques for market trends and reports are rarely
and in support of its policy to
analysis are well documented enough to persuade business
remain an ‘environmental
and understood, traditional managers to make fundamental
leader’ has its corporate team
marketers and business planners changes to their business strat-
working to ensure sustainable
do not have the skills to under- egy. It is necessary to be able to
development becomes part of
stand which environmental demonstrate that their key
Nortel’s business ethos. Nortel’s
aspects they should be consider- customer contacts (the decision-
environment team recognise that
ing when reviewing market makers and influencers) are
to achieve this they need to be
issues, nor do they know how interested.
customer and market focused,
to interpret the information
that is to say aligned with Nortel understood the need to
gathered. This is the value that
Nortel’s key business strategies work, not only with environ-
the environmental teams bring
and objectives. In 1997 in order mental counterparts, but also
to their organisations. They can
to support this focus Nortel’s with the business managers in
take the existing business tools
corporate environmental team the customer base. It was also
and apply them appropriately to
began a comprehensive review understood that in order to get
the environmental market issues
of environmental market to the business managers and to
and interpret them in ways the
dynamics. secure benefit from these meet-
business is able to use to its
ings Nortel’s own account



groups had to be part of the · both customer and supplier

process. The question then was are engaged in dialogue. In the tradition
Nortel’s environment group
Those experienced in of business
stakeholder dialogue processes
presented a business case to
relevant account teams using
will see immediately how this
sort of a process enables all
speak, the
preliminary results from the
market research including an
participants to move forward
together. At the end of the
analysis of all the environmental
queries Nortel had received from
· the customers are much
customers over the last 3 years.
better informed about the
This presentation was enough to
issue in hand workshop is a
encourage the selected account
· the supplier has a better grasp
teams to agree to ‘face to face’
sessions with key customers.
of likely market values that ‘win-win-win’
customers will put on environ-
mental options for the
Environmental customer · there is (nearly always)
workshops recognition by the suppliers environment
that the customers do care
Environment teams are accus-
tomed to running educational · there is (nearly always) team, the
workshops for employees on recognition by customers that
specific issues, to attending the process has given them a sales and
external workshops, to partici- much better understanding of
pating in stakeholder consulta- the issues.
tion and a wide range of
Within the supplier, marketing
dialogue type activity. This activ-
ity is an excellent methodology
and account management teams team and the
involved in the process are much
to apply to customer focused
market research. The ‘Customer
more likely to take up the envi- customers.
ronmental ideas discussed and
Environment Workshop’ has the
build environmental thinking
following aims:
into their daily processes. envi-
· it explores an environmental
ronment teams then have a clear
concept in some detail
role as expert advisor to the
· it establishes the environ- marketing teams. The
mental values of each Environment teams themselves
participant acquire a much greater under-
· it is an educational event standing of the market dynamics
for all participants within which their organisation
· the facilitator is usually an operates.
expert in environmental and
The customers have usually
relevant commercial issues
provided substantial input to the
· experts from both commercial supplier, but often perceive that
and environmental perspectives they have gained even more for
are present themselves in terms of enhanced
· there is usually a section of understanding. A tremendous
informed input amount of goodwill is generated.



In the tradition of business The success of these first work- Conclusion

speak, the customer environ- shops has enabled the environ-
To get to an environmentally
ment workshop is a ‘win-win- ment team to offer their services
sustainable business you need to
win’ for the environment team, to other major account teams in
influence core business strategy
the sales and marketing team Nortel, including North
and process. To influence core
and the customers. American Accounts. These key
business processes you must
account groups are eager to
Nortel’s experience of focus on where the business
undertake similar sessions as a
customer environmental focuses ie. Customers and
precursor to development of
workshops Markets. This is not to say opera-
structured environmental
The initial customer workshops tional improvements, cost reduc-
customer communication
undertaken by Nortel and tion and DfE are not appropriate
managed by Conservation – but they need the customer
Communications included 100 Benefits of a market focus and market focus to support and
key customer contacts; a mixture to Nortel’s environmental direct the business case for these
of product and marketing progress important activities. Up until
managers from customers The results of the initial work- now much has been achieved in
throughout Europe, the Middle shops were included in the final these areas – but the customer
East and Africa and version of the environmental has been neglected. Now is the
approximately 50 Nortel’s market drivers research which is time for the environmental
Account Team members. Given being used to open doors to the teams to bring the forgotten
these were the first Nortel had most senior business people in stakeholder back into the fold –
run, detailed follow-up was the Nortel organisation. It is because as Nortel is finding out
undertaken to determine how providing the team with an customers really do care! •
the customers valued the experi- opportunity to present the envi-
ence. The feedback was ronmental opportunities of This is a slightly edited version of a
outstanding with 83% of partici- product and service changes and paper originally presented at ‘Towards
pants giving the workshops a operational improvements with Sustainable Product Design’ 3rd
value rating of 4 and 5 out of 5 what is starting to look like International Conference, 26–27
and 81% asking for regular envi- genuine customer and market October 1998, DTI Conference Centre,
ronmental communication from support. As a result serious London, UK
Nortel on an ongoing basis. discussions at the heart of
Remember these were hard Nortel’s business activities are
nosed business managers, and yet now starting to consider how References
with skillful planning and organi- fundamental environmental
sation Nortel’s environmental product and service improve- Frankel, Karl; Sept-October; If
team were able to demonstrate ments can be achieved. It is still You’re So Rich, Why Ain’t Ya
$mart, Tomorrow Magazine,
that real customers do care and early days but the initial
1998, pp50–51
value environmental issues from successes of a market-focused
a business perspective. strategy are such that it is one Moxen & Strachan ;
Nortel’s environmental team Bulldozing the Green Wall,
intends to keep. in Managing Green Teams,
Greenleaf Publishing; (1998)



O2 Challenge
Martin Chartern
Coordinator, The Centre for Sustainable Design, UK

The Journal of Sustainable Product ‘Design for Environment’ implementing DfE on a global
Design has developed a partnership scale. The results of the study
with the O2 Global Network to further will be introduced and discussed
disseminate information and ideas on The German ecological design
with experts in two workshops
eco-design and sustainable product agency Econcept, Cologne, and
in 1999.
design. O2 Global Network is an the Office for Ecological Studies,
Contact: Ursula Tischner, Econcept
international network of ecological Tuebingen, are completing a
designers. The O2 Global Network is research study about existing
organised into national O2 groups guides for ‘Design for
which work together to provide various Environment’ (DfE), which has Bosch: recycled portable
services such as: O2 Broadcasts, which been commissioned by the electronic tools
report live from O2 events using email German Federal Environment
Scissors and torches made from
and the Worldwide Web (WWW); O2 office in Berlin. Researchers will
plastic recycled from Bosch hand
Text meetings, a meeting place on the collect and analyse the most
tool products have been
Web; the O2 WWW pages, which important national and interna-
produced by Bosch as promo-
provides an overview of activities; O2 tional guidelines, tools and
tional products for their clients
Gallery, an exhibition of eco-products instruments for environment-
and partners.
on the Web; and, an O2 mailing list. friendlier design as well as exam-
ples of sustainable design and The approach
For further information on the above the implementation of DfE in 1993: Bosch tools were collected
activities and the O2 Global Network industry and SMEs. The objective by German retailers and sent to
contact: O2 Global Network of the project is to develop new a recycling centre.
Tourslaan 39 instruments and combine exist-
5627 KW Eindhoven 1996: A total of 412 tonnes of
ing guidelines and criteria for
The Netherlands material were collected, 83% was
DfE, so that a helpful toolbox
tel/fax: +31 40 2428 483 recycled including 30 tonnes of
can be developed for ecologi-
plastic. 6.5 tonnes of plastic was
O2 Global Network new homepage: cally-oriented engineers and
used to make corporate gifts for designers that can be
Bosch and was presented in
e-mail: implemented in companies
promotional catalogues.
mailinglist: worldwide. Such a DfE toolbox
uk/lists.o2global.db will make it easier to communi- 1998: Further products made
cate environmental requirements from recycled material were
‘O2 News’ will update readers of
along the supply chain and launched: measuring tape, multi-
the Journal on the latest eco-design
throughout the whole life cycle bladed knife, alarm clock, Swiss
issues from around the world and
of products. An internationally watch, ball point pen, calculator,
on O2’s national activities.
harmonised communication etc.
basis is very important for



These ‘green’
the feasibility
of recycling
projects if they
are managed
creatively and

Above: Bosch recharger unit

Below: Bosch secateurs



The results
Environmental: the results for
the environment are difficult to
evaluate from this ‘one off’
experience. It is necessary to
compare the recycling of these
tools with their classical ‘end of
life’ treatment (incineration
followed by the recuperation of
ferrous metals from the
residues). In the absence of
rigorous LCA, 02 France believes
that the products have relatively
low environmental impact.

Corporate: these ‘green’ prod-

uct examples demonstrate the
feasibility of recycling projects
if they are managed creatively
Above: Detail of Bosch recharger unit and efficiently. As a result of the
process nearly nearly 100
Below: Detail of Bosch secateurs
products made of recycled
material have been presented in
a travelling exhibition through-
out Europe.

The Habitat lamp

02 France developed a lighting
system for Habitat that incorpo-
rates a compact fluorescent light
bulb that uses less energy – the
CERunner. The lamp is
suspended from a cable running
between walls giving greater
flexibility in ‘use’, therefore
replacing the need for several
fixed lamps. The ‘system’
includes all the accessories
(cable, hooks, screw) to fix to
the wall.
Contact: Thierry Kazazian, 02



and sustainability criteria. In the

Van Nelle Factory, Rotterdam,
an auditorium, a party hall and
several design studios were
organised. The participants
worked in fifteen separate
project groups on a wide variety
of issues. A few examples of the
projects were ‘Moving People’,
which was led by the Japanese
designer Fumi Masuda,
‘Ecosthetics’, led by Jasper
Morrison and Adriaan Beukers,
and ‘Immaterial Kicks’, led by
the sociologist Hans van der Loo.

The first full day was one of
discussion and seeking. Several
groups had already found a
theme by the Friday evening, but
by Saturday, all the projects were
ready for presentation in the
Habitat: energy-saving lighting system design studios.
Despite the great diversity of
people and designs, there proved
The O2 Challenge Workshop Milano, Italy, stressed the oppor- to be several common themes.
on Sustainable Business tunities of bringing about radical For example, there were several
changes at a local scale, where schemes to make more efficient
Concepts, Van Nelle Factory,
ecological, social and cultural use of existing resources. The
values will make a contribution ‘Logic Logistics’ group came
Thomas Linders, the author of to sustainable development. up with ‘Parasites’, a business
the workshop report, is a partner Trevor Baylis, the inventor of the specialising in tracing wasted
in the design agency Linders & clockwork radio, explained the space in transportation and turn-
Van Dorssen. He was one of the difficulties of acceptance and ing it to advantage. The business
organisers of the 02 Event in 1993. achieving funding for his ‘green’ aims to ‘parasitise’ the many
invention. unused spaces in buildings.
The second major international
workshop organised by O2 The event attracted 150 design- Opportunities
Netherlands took place on ers, architects and policymakers
The ‘Online Forever’ group
5, 6 and 7 November 1998 and who spent two days brainstorm-
devised a scheme using the
followed on from the first work- ing sustainable business concepts
Internet in which people would
shop – the ‘O2 Event’ of 1993 – and then presenting and
be able to place individual orders
which centred around the theme discussing their results. The
for goods, which would then be
of sustainable lifestyles. participants were asked to imag-
produced in the most eco-
ine and describe attractive,
Broad scope friendly place using the most
progressive business activities
The keynote speaker, Ezio eco-efficient means of produc-
that satisfied both commercial
Manzini of Poletecnico di tion. Allowing the consumer to



was one area in which ideas

about sustainability have clearly
advanced since 1993. It has also
become clearer since the first
O2 Event that people must be
offered attractive sustainable
alternatives alongside – rather
than instead of – existing
A new feature of the ‘O2
Challenge’ was the expert
support available for participants
to develop their plans further
after the workshop, offered by
the Kathalys and Syntens
Institutes in the Netherlands.
The ideas now exist, but writing
convincing business plans is
another challenge altogether.
Several participants have already
applied for this support.

New media
Project leaders at the ‘O2 Challenge’
Another striking development at
the ‘O2 Challenge’ was the ease
with which both the groups and
assemble a customised product teleworkers with such facilities the organisers made use of the
instead of offering only a fixed, as a creche, a laundry service new media. ‘Refuse Refuse’
ready-made product was an idea and a shopping service. decided not to waste any materi-
that occurred to several other als on their presentation, and by
groups too. It was also thought Saturday they had created web
Many of the nuances of the
that better systems should be pages to present ten enterprise
discussions and ideas were
developed to recycle the prod- ideas. The journalist Jules
inevitably lost in the presenta-
uct, or to lease or update it by Marshall made use of the O2
tions. Still, an inspiring and
replacing obsolete components. Website to give outsiders a live
diverse landscape of new small-
This would clearly create oppor- report on the progress of the
scale and large-scale enterprise
tunities for countless service ‘O2 Challenge’. The website,
concepts emerged. A wide range
points, advisors (ie. sellers) and which is maintained by the
of concepts was presented that
other enterprises. Netherlands Design Institute,
aim to develop sustainable activi-
The ‘Small Business’ group trans- ties and services within existing played an important role in prior
formed the slogan ‘you take care structures, including several publicity for the ‘O2 Challenge’.
of your customers and we will projects to take advantage of the Those interested in reading the
take care of you’ into an attrac- present and likely future advan- ‘O2 Challenge’ reports are
tive new combination of existing tages in information technology. recommended to visit
services. Their ‘Home Work •
This rootedness in the real world
Centre’ aimed to provide




Ecodesign Navigator: he Ecodesign Navigator is the outcome of a three-year research

a key resource in the
drive towards environmentally
T project called DEEDS – Design for Environment Decision Support.
The partners were Manchester Metropolitan University, Cranfield
efficient product deign University, EPSRC, Electrolux, ICL. and ICER.
Matthew Simon, Stephen Evan, The project was grounded in the electronic and electrical industry
Tim McAloone, Andrew and aimed to create methods of practical benefit to these industries
Sweatman, Tracy Bhamra in achieving increased environmental and product performance.
and Steve Poole
Manchester Metropolitan The core of the work, 85 out of 151 pages, lies in a very comprehensive
survey of Eco Design tools: these range from Life Cycle Analysis (LCA)
University and
tools through to higher level strategic tools. This chapter is recom-
Cranfield University, UK
mended to anyone wanting an up-to-date overview of the offerings in
this field. The details of each product include brief pros and cons, price
and contact details where appropriate.
151 pages
The remaining materials generate less enthusiasm: the ‘Navigator’
attempts to serve too many different client groups, from complete
novices in the field of eco-design to experienced managers; further-
more, it relies very heavily on a single strategy, the ARPI framework –
Analyse, Report, Prioritise and Improve. This approach is similar to the
well-known idea of continuous improvement – an iterative cycle of
analysing the existing state of affairs, setting targets and making
improvements. It is a comfortable, safe way of gaining steady small
improvements. However, different approaches are necessary to bring
about uncomfortable, revolutionary changes. There are those in the
field of eco-design who feel that only the second, uncomfortable,
approach offers the prospect of change fast enough to save the planet
from unacceptable climatic perturbation.
The Ecodesign Navigator is at its weakest when it reaches out into
descriptions of the ideas that lie at the core of environmental studies.
Nowhere is this more misleading than the guide’s treatment of sustain-
ability. The authors appear not to be aware of the difference between
‘sustainability’ as crystallised in the Brundtland Report of 1987 and the
more political agenda of sustainable development encapsulated in the
Rio conference of 1992 and Agenda 21.
The statement of sustainability on page 1: ‘In essence, sustainability
is a simple notion: a product process or system is sustainable if it can
continue forever. Therefore, something that consumes even a tiny
amount of fossil fuel is not sustainable’ is worryingly misleading,
especially to the naïve reader for whom the guide seems to be written.
Bio-diesel, bio-alcohol petrol and other renewable energy sources
form a viable long-term solution to the provision of modest amounts
of liquid fuel.



In Chapter 3, the product development process, the map we are

offered begins with the idea of ‘Need’. However, the text is heavily
slanted to interpretation of ‘Need’ as our ‘Need’ for the next product.
From an environmental perspective the product is the problem!
The question should be, how do we identify and then satisfy the
underlying human need without the intervention of a product:
dematerialisation of products and services is the aim.
Finally, the addition of an index would make the guide more user-
As a comprehensive guide to both commercial and public domain
eco-design tools currently available, the eco-design profiler is
excellent; as an introductory guide to the issues in eco-design for a
naïve reader, I do not recommend it. •

Professor Eric Billett is the Pro-Vice Chancellor at Brunel University and holds the
Chair in Design.

Our Common Future, Brundtland Commission, 1987.
United Nations Conference on Environment and Development,
Agenda 21, 1992. (The ‘Earth Summit’, Rio)



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The Journal of
Sustainable Product Design

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

7 Creating an economic infrastructure for sustainable product design
Tim Cooper, Director, Centre for Sustainable Consumption, School of Leisure
and Food Management, Sheffield Hallam University, UK
18 Company-specific guidelines
Henrik Dahlström, Research Associate, IVF, The Swedish Institute of Production
Engineering Research, Sweden

25 Professor Han Brezet, Director, Section of Environmental Product
Development, Faculty of Industrial Design Engineering, Delft
University of Technology, the Netherlands
Martin Charter, Coordinator, The Centre for Sustainable Design, UK

28 Sustainable product development: a key factor for small enterprise
development – the case of furniture production in the Purépecha
region, Mexico
Dr Diego Masera, Product Development and Marketing Manager,
Micro-enterprises Support Programme, Kenya

40 ‘Smart’, the environmentally considered city car, the Flymo experience
and office chairs from plastic bottle caps

42 Cyclic, solar, safe – BioDesign's solution requirements for sustainability
Edwin Datschefski, Founder, BioThinking International, UK
52 Customers – the forgotten stakeholders
Emma Prentis, Director, Conservation Communications, UK, and Hedda Bird,
Managing Director, Conservation Communications, UK

O2 news
The Centre for Sustainable Design
57 ‘O2 Challenge’
Martin Charter, Coordinator, The Centre for Sustainable Design, UK
an initiative of
62 Reviews
The Surrey Institute of Art & Design
University College 64 Diary of events