This goal of this thesis is to present an overview of thedesigners situation in Swedish companies in relation toenvironmental work in the product development process. Theoverall aim is to describe the designers situation andhis/her potential to minimize the environmental impact ofproducts.
Awareness of the environmental problems has led to a newapproach to product development, and today EcoDesign is beingintegrated in many Swedish companies. However, if products areto be improved from an environmental aspect, it is not onlynecessary to integrate the issue in the product developmentprocess, but designers themselves must also be given thepossibility of actually designing environmentally friendlyproducts. This makes the designer a key actor in EcoDesign.
There are different levels of support for designers duringthe various stages of product development. The most commonenvironmental work within Swedish companies is to perform LifeCycle Assessment (LCA) or to introduce an environmentalmanagement system (EMS), most commonly ISO 14000. In order tooptimize a product from an environmental view, it is necessarynot only to know how the product affects the environment butalso how to evaluate different solutions and concepts. In orderto do this, LCA can be a support but it does not lead to thefinding of new solutions or concepts. There is control of theproducts content and restrictions on substances thatcannot be used. The focus of the products environmentalimpact is not only in the manufacturing and use phase but alsoin the end-of-life phase. This focus is due to a new type oflegislation, the producer responsibility law. The overall aimof this regulation is to increase reuse and recycling. To makethis economically possible, the present efforts to adaptproducts to recycling must be vastly increased.
Finally, in order to integrate the environmental issue inthe everyday work of designers it is necessary to have thefollowing conditions:
Environmental expertise available
An evaluation tool in order to confirm and choosealternatives
Education and information for designers to spreadknowledge and to motivate them
Constant stress on the importance of environmentaladaptation
Documentation routines and guidelines connected to theproduct development process to ensure that the issue isconsidered at every step
Integrating the issue in the product development process canclearly make significant environmental product improvements.For all companies, however, the overall aim is to make as muchmoney as possible, and it is evident that any major productchanges also have to lead to an increased customer benefit. Ifsignificant product changes are necessary for environmentalimprovements, further driving forces, such as governmentalregulations, may be needed in order to develop suchproducts.
Keywords:EcoDesign, designers, environmental productdevelopment, design for environment.
Stockholm: Maskinkonstruktion , 2003. , viii, 60 p.
EcoDesign, designer environmental product development, design for environment