Green product design, also known as design for environment (DfE), design for eco-efficiency or sustainable product design, is a proactive business approach to addressing environmental considerations in the earliest stages of the product development process in order to minimize negative environmental impacts throughout the product’s life cycle. Green product design can encompass material selection, resource use, production requirements and planning for the final disposition (recycling, reuse, or disposal) of a product. It is not a stand-alone methodology but one that must be integrated with a company’s existing product design approaches so that environmental parameters can be balanced with traditional product attributes such as quality, producibility, and functionality. Green products may be designed to be more easily upgraded, disassembled, recycled, and reused than their conventional counterparts as well as to use fewer materials and to break down into replaceable modular parts.

Implementing green product design can provide a number of benefits to a company both through focusing on resource efficiencies which, in turn, can reduce costs and often shorten production time and through bringing diverse functional groups to the design table, thereby driving product and process innovation. Green product design can also be a first step toward closing the loop on a company’s industrial processes by helping to couple the traditionally antithetical objectives of continued growth and environmental excellence. For this reason, more and more companies are making green product design a critical element of their sustainable business agendas.

Business Importance

Practicing green product design can produce direct bottom-line benefits such as reduced material costs and an improved product, which often results in increased market share, access to broader global markets, and decreased compliance fees. Less tangible benefits include enhanced corporate image, improved community relations, and increased access to investor capital. Ways in which companies can benefit from green product design include:

Recent Developments

Industry’s interest in, and its efforts to cost-effectively address the environmental impacts of products through design, can be directly tied to the need to compete in an increasingly globalized marketplace where regulatory requirements, voluntary initiatives, certification schemes and consumer demands can vary dramatically and have a direct impact on a company’s ability to do business in any given market. The following is a list of some recent developments: