Product and Industrial Design Environmental Impacts
What are the environmental impacts of Industrial Design?
The design and creation of products can require the extraction of natural resources, manufacturing, transportation and waste disposal at the end of life. As a product goes through these stages, energy and water are used, and waste, pollutants and greenhouse gas emissions are created. According to the United States Environment Protection Agency (EPA), 70-80 per cent of a product’s environmental impact is locked in during the design and development stage. By investigating the potential impacts of your product and then finding ways of reducing these issues through eco-design, you can create functional, aesthetically pleasing and successful designs without locking in unnecessary environmental impacts. Resource extraction
Everything we do involves natural resources at some point. The extraction of natural resources – whether through mining, harvesting or land clearing – generates carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions, uses water and land, and produces waste products that have to be disposed of in the environment. As a general rule, ‘natural’ materials grown on land (crops, trees etc) require the use of water, fertilisers and nutrients, and the extraction of natural resources means that the land can’t be used for other things such as food crops. Materials that are mined (such as metals and minerals) use energy and water, and often create toxic wastes. Materials from farmed animals (such as leather and wool) require large amounts of water and feed, and they produce significant methane – a potent greenhouse gas. Materials created synthetically from petrochemicals consume fossil fuels and invariably create toxic by-products and wastes. Material selection in design is important: selecting low-impact materials can reduce the environmental impacts of the product’s life cycle. But one of the most important things to consider is doing more with less – fewer materials...
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