As the world population is almost 8 billion, the old “buy, use, throw away” paradigm of the linear economy no longer makes any sense and is driving us towards an uncertain future. As consequence, sustainability became the most influential trend of our century, it affects the whole value chain: the organization of the material extraction as well as manufacturing, all the structure and people involved along the products’ lifecycle, including retailers and consumers, and especially the refuses’ disposal when they arrive at the end of their life cycle.
The green economy also shaped the job market, changing the way of working and creating new opportunities. An outstanding example is the born of the eco-design, a new global approach which principles were formally published in the ISO 2002, under the title of “Environmental management, Integrating environmental aspects into product design and development”.
Eco-design is both a principle and an approach. It consists of a production perspective that consists of integrating environmental protection criteria into every phase: from conception to development, from transport to recycling.
The main goal of eco-design is to anticipate and minimize negative environmental impacts of manufacturing, using and disposing of products. Simultaneously, eco-design also keeps a product’s quality level according to its ideal usage.
ECO-DESIGN FEATURES AND PRINCIPLES
- Fewer materials and less energy consumption in the manufacturing process, to protect resources and reduce emissions;
- Make the final product easy to recycle, ensuring materials that can be disassembled, reused and recycled;
- Use biodegradable materials or a single type of material;
- Shape and characteristics of a sustainable product should be long-lasting, in order to maximize the product life;
- Manufacture multiple use product, so they are suitable for reuse;
- Products should have a suitable size for the transport, in order to save material, consumption and reduce CO2 emissions;
- Exploit the best technological innovations available in the market to optimize product efficiency and sustainability;
- Eco-design spreads the idea of sustainability with messages intrinsic to the product itself;
- Focus the attention on the end of life scenario, making sure that, when the product becomes useless to the final consumer, it can be recycled efficiently.
The importance of the eco-designers is widely recognized, in fact the environmental benefits of sustainable production affect both industry and society. The United Nations advocates this system as a means to improve millions of people’s quality of life, mitigate poverty, boost competitiveness, and lower economic, environmental and social costs.