How to Design Sustainable Products

Use the following eight strategies to design products and services that are more environmentally and socially responsible.
Lauren Turner September 24, 2017

Insights from a Systematic Review of the Research

Developing new products – or improving existing ones – is hard. The following eight strategies can help companies design products and services that are more environmentally and socially responsible.

You can view these strategies as a linear, life cycle process, beginning with new product design and ending with product disposal.

Alternatively, you can pick the individual strategy or strategies that best apply to your company or product depending on your specific phase(s) of development.





This graphic is based on Brezet and Hemel’s (1997) Sustainable Design Strategies as adapted by Colby (2011). For more detailed information about sustainable product design, see Innovating for Sustainability: A Systematic Review.
Brezet, H. & Hemel, C.V. 1997. Ecodesign: a promising approach to sustainable production and consumption. Paris: United Nations Environmental Program (UNEP), Industry and Environment.

Colby, C.C. 2011. The relationship between product design and business models in the context of sustainability. Masters thesis. University of Montreal.
Research Insight

Two tools—life cycle analysis and input-output analysis—can help managers assess the environmental impact of products.

NBS
Research Insight

Consumers will pay more for ethically produced goods, but they'll "punish" a company for unethical practices by more than they will reward ethical ones.

Pam Laughland
Research Insight

In small businesses, size and flat hierarchies make ecodesign changes easier to implement.

Marie Demode