The future in ecodesign
Product quality, reduction of environmental impact and saving of resources, at the basis of a new “eco-sustainable” way of designing
According to the US think tank Global Footprint Network, which every year calculates the consumption by the population and estimates the biocapacity of the planet, we are all living as if we had little more than one and a half Earths available.
This overexploitation is primarily due to the increased ecological footprint and deforestation.
In 2022, compared to last year, a 6.6% increase in the carbon footprint and a 0.5% decrease in global forest biocapacity was calculated.
It is in this perspective of collective responsibility that the concept of eco-design or sustainable design was born and has been popular for some years now.
Ecodesign is a virtuous model inspired by the circular economy, which is based on the efficient use of resources and materials, reducing the environmental impact associated with production and helping to reduce the amount of waste and garbage generated.
In fact, this practice is not limited to creating products with sustainable materials, but applies to the entire life cycle of a product, from its design, to manufacture, to its use and disposal.
It is a modus operandi that not only reverberates on the environmental and climatic sphere, but also directly affects the social and economic one, proposing a new cultural paradigm.
Eco-design is conventionally based on six fundamental principles:
- use of sustainable materials, made using renewable energy;
- production processes that promote energy savings;
- product quality and durability;
- reduction of waste generated during the production and use of the product;
- simplification of disassembly, recycling and reuse of the materials that make up the product;
- Use of renewable resources, possibly local and sustainably managed resources that are compostable once use is over.
Sustainable design was strongly inspired by the Bill of Rights for the Planet, the nine Hannover principles relating to eco-design, developed during the 2000 Expo. This bill of rights is based on concepts such as the elimination of waste, constantly pursing improvement, recognizing the interdependence between humans and nature, and understanding the limits of design.
In Europe Ecodesign is regulated by directive 2009/125 / EC, by directive 2018/851 on the subject of circular economy and by ISO 14006, 14040 and 14044 standards. The latter, in particular, thanks to the LCA (Life Cycle Assessment) process, allows to evaluate the whole life cycle of products and their interaction with the environment, regulating the management of the supply chain, upstream and downstream of the production process, with a view to saving and recovering energy and materials.
In this light, it is also important to evaluate the additives that are incorporated into materials, since the presence of some chemicals can limit or prevent the recycling and reuse of products that reach end-of-life.
In conclusion, we can rightly affirm that sustainable design represents the new frontier of design that finds application in all productive fields, on a path towards the ecological transition that will lead to a new generation of products and materials designed to be more durable, upgradeable, repairable and replaceable, acting only on the part subject to technical-aesthetic-functional wear.
All this involves the spread of new “collaborative” business models, which shift from the product concept to that of “service to the product”, for which life-cycle extension and use-phase optimization strategies will be central.
This will be a highly rewarding element for companies with strong ethical and qualitative connotations, as opposed to others that still work from the consumerist and quantitative perspective of planned obsolescence.