Rethinking Product Design with the Ecodesign Evaluation Framework for Sustainable Innovation

Linked Sessions:

Poster Number:  28 

Main Presenter:    Kristina Kerwin 

Co-Authors:   Deborah Andrews     Benjamin Lishman      Elizabeth Newton                                    

Despite the efforts to encourage sustainable product design, the linear design approach still persists in the creation of many products. At present, there is still a limited number of genuinely sustainable products on the market, especially when it comes to the design of e-products. This is due to ambiguity of policy related to eco-design and the absence of a standardised framework and tools which prevent the real shift towards a circular economy design practice.
A free online tool (a Circular Data Centre Compass) developed by the CEDaCI project has an integral component called The Ecodesign Evaluator based on an eco-design evaluation framework that was created specifically to assist the development of CEDaCI Circular Economy-ready server. The Ecodesign Evaluator works by aiding the design process via the assessment the circularity of the design during the R&D stage. It offers an accessible, consolidated and standardised way to follow the eco-design guidelines, and provides an instant visual assessment of the design/s which makes it easy for the designers to follow. The CEDaCI project demonstrated a successful application of the eco-design evaluator framework by designing a Circular-Economy-Ready server, illustrating the pivotal impact it can have on product development.

The framework that underpins the CEDaCI Ecodesign Evaluator has the potential for a wider application, providing a standardised method for designers to evaluate their designs against the relevant eco-design policies and guidelines. Such a tool could potentially initiate a much-desired shift in the prevailing linear design mindset by promoting sustainable design thinking, leading a change by encouraging designers to revert to first principles and embrace “whole-systems” thinking in their design processes.
Moreover, implementing the principles of the CEDaCI Ecodesign Evaluator during the R&D stages of various e-products has the capacity to reduce overproduction, enhance design circularity, and reduce the use of critical resources while minimising e-waste output. Hence, helping to achieve the underlying goal in fostering a circular economy mindset among the designers across the industry.
The principles of the framework were developed to underpin eco-design of a very specific product group. This study explores the potential for use across different product groups as a means of encouraging more sustainable design thinking and practice especially in relation to e-products.

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