Ecodesign in industrial design consultancies: comparing Australia, Germany, China and the USA

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Abstract
This paper presents the results of an empirical study, investigating the uptake of ecodesign by industrial design consultancies (ID consultancies) in Australia, China, Germany and the USA. Designing products for a low environmental load, usually termed as ecodesign, offers high potential to reduce the environmental impact of our society, aiming for a sustainable development. However, there still appears to be no widespread uptake of ecodesign into product development praxis by industrial designers, with most ecodesign activity focusing on the engineering phase. Especially seldom are the necessary radical interventions to significantly improve the environmental performance of products. The literature review revealed that ID consultancies might be in a position to improve this situation. This paper presents the findings of a website content analysis, investigating the extent of ecodesign uptake by ID consultancies in Australia, China, Germany and the US. Those four countries were chosen to see if different, country specific frameworks impact on the attitude of ID consultancies towards ecodesign. The paper verifies that ID consultancies have a high potential to improve ecodesign uptake by using their influence especially on early phases of the product development process and by addressing also non engineering related issues for ecodesign. This potential does not appear to be fully embraced yet. The paper concludes by identifying the highest representation of ecodesign on websites of Australian ID consultancies and the lowest on websites of Chinese ID consultancies. The way ID consultancies practice ecodesign is very country specific. Understanding the differences and developing recommendations how ID consultancies can better unfold their ecodesign potential requires deeper investigations in the case specific factors.
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Author(s)
Ramirez, Mariano
Behrisch, Johannes
Giurco, Damien
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Publication Year
2011
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Conference Paper
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