Product Design and Collection: Keys to Shaping Sustainability – Environmental Leader

Overcoming the Barriers

Obviously product design or redesign must be intentional, with proper end-of-life disposal as a primary consideration to solidify the important initial bookend of a product’s sustainable lifecycle.

While improving product design concepts may seem to be a simple fix (just redesign them), it is a much more complex issue for all stages of the supply chain. Product stewardship organizations—sharing their broad-spectrum perspective on disposal best practices—may help shine a spotlight on this issue. However, consumers and lawmakers may first have to demand change before manufacturers will adopt environmentally responsible design as standard protocol.

Secondly, communication must be improved to optimize the return of a particular product. It’s a two-pronged effort that requires a combination of consumer education and consolidated messaging.

This should start with education, helping all consumers understand the larger environmental benefits of “enhanced product design + recycling”. This has the potential to significantly increase consumer demand for products that have been thoughtfully and intentionally designed with the end in mind. And, an educated user may also insist on improved access to collection options, which means recycling becomes more accessible for everyone.

Working together, recycling and sustainability leaders can consolidate messaging–connecting recycling of a specific material to a broad and universal message–to maximize collections. This type of unified effort can work across product categories to raise awareness about broader issues of accessibility and proper disposal.

Each bookend on its own supports the product lifecycle. But, by incorporating improvements in design and communication, we can help ensure that all aspects of recycling and environmentally responsible product disposal are advanced and preserved.

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