Topic 2 History of eco design

Eco-design emerges in 1980s, when the two main enviromental problems became evident: scarcity of natural resources and pollution. As a potential solution, two fields of action are identified: production processes and products, and two business-oriented concepts were born: Cleaner Production and Ecodesign.

Then, in 1992 when IDSA (Industrial Designers Society of America) published a catalogue of 12 Facts of Ecological Design.

12 Facts of Ecological Design
1. Make it durable.
7. Make it simple to separate the recyclable components of a product from the non-recyclable components.
2. Make it easy to repair.
8. Eliminate the toxic/problematic components of a product or make them easy to replace or remove before disposal.
3. Design it so it can be remanufactured.
9. Make products more energy/resource efficient.
4. Design it so it can be reused.
10. Use product design to educate on the environment.
5. Use recycled materials.
11. Work toward designing source reduction-inducing products (i.e., products that eliminate the need for subsequent waste).
6. Use commonly recyclable materials.
12. Adjust product design to reduce packaging.

At the same time, in 1992, the European Ecolabel – a voluntary scheme – had been established to encourage businesses to market products and services that are kinder to the environment, products and services awarded carry the European flower logo. One year later, in 1993 the first international ecodesign competition was held in Austria.

In 2001 and 2003 the European Commission established the integrated product policy (IPP) by a green book and a white book (see e.g., Hübner et al. 2004), being basis for the sustainable consumption and production policy action plan (European Commission 2008) and as a part of this policies an amendment of the Ecodesign Directive (European Commission 2005, 2009).

As traiditional design techniques aims at short-term satisfacition of customers, eco-design approach looks further, beyond the product/service life cycle. Eco-design as defined in ISO 14062 (2002) is a design approach aiming to reduce the environmental impacts of products and services throughout the whole lifecycle, while assuring similar or improved services to the end customer. The idea is still to meet the consumer’s requirements, but in a more sustainable way.

One of the main steps in eco-design activities is environmental assessment to evaluate the existing environmental impacts of the product or service, whilst environmental improvement is focused on the search for environmentally friendly solutions.

Look at the video below on responsible manufacturing by Patagonia:


After watching the video on responsible manufacturing by Patagonia, try to answer the following questions:

🡪Would you be open to paying more for a responsibly manufactured product? Why yes, why no?

🡪Did you know that Patagonia has a self-imposed Earth tax, 1% for the Planet, providing support to environmental nonprofits working to defend our air, land and water around the globe?