Sustainable product design 'has long way to go' - Capgemini

Capgemini report says design decisions have a profound impact on the environmental and social consequences of products bit too little is happening here.

Sustainable product design has helped 67% of organisations reduce carbon emissions, yet 41% of currently have no plans to implement sustainable product design, or do not plan to do so at all, new research from Capgemini reveals. 

Design decisions have a profound impact on the environmental and social consequences of products. The report points out that around 80% of the environmental impact of products can be attributed to decisions made at the design stage.

The study explores the importance of thinking beyond isolated design problems, and instead looking at the early stages of product design through to the selection of materials and end-of-life management.

Sustainable design is often held to be too expensive, but Capgemini’s study found that 23% of businesses have seen a decrease in costs since implementing new sustainable strategies, while 37% of organisations found that costs remained the same.

Key Capgemini findings on sustainable design

Other key findings include:

  • Regulatory pressure overrides sustainability goals, with 61% of organisations fearing regulatory non-compliance.
  • Businesses don’t understand sustainability strategies. Just 16% of product designers say they have an accurate understanding of the useful life of their products.
  • Sustainable design practices provide a multitude of long-term benefits: Organisations have experienced increased revenue growth (73%), improved customer satisfaction (70%), and impoved employee engagement (79%) alongside carbon emissions reduction (67%).

Roshan Gya, Global Head of Intelligent Industry at Capgemini, said: “In order to reach their carbon reduction targets and to deliver on overall sustainable development goals, organisations need to think beyond isolated design problems and consider the system as a whole, from the early stages of product design to selection of materials and end-of-life management. 

“This necessitates a series of different approaches across the entire product lifecycle, including systems thinking, circular design thinking, and regenerative approaches. Organisations must also keep in mind that many sustainability initiatives are characterised by a short-term pain followed by long-term gain, such as up-front investments to avoid larger costs in the future.”

The report is the products of the Capgemini Research Institute, who surveyed 900 senior product design and engineering executives from large organisations across industries including consumer products, automotive, industrial manufacturing, aerospace and defence, high-tech, and medical devices. A total of 15 senior industry executives and academics were also interviewed. 


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