The industrial design challenge: Reduce, Reuse, and Recycle.
The importance of designing sustainable and environmentally friendly products is on everyone’s lips. However, with plastic being such a ubiquitous part of modern life, designing products that reduce their environmental impact can be challenging.
The challenge is to design products that use plastic only where necessary or eliminate it. But how can you do this, and what should be prioritised?
Level 1: Reduce
The first step is to prioritise reduction. Using less or no plastic at all is the best thing you can do.
This means minimising the amount of plastic used in the design of a product. This technique involves creating thinner and lighter plastic parts without sacrificing functionality. Removing unnecessary plastic components can also help to reduce the amount of plastic produced and the amount of plastic waste generated.
Alternatives to plastic could be glass, paper, or metal. It might seem challenging, but reducing plastic usage should always be the priority when designing new products.
Level 2: Reuse
If reduction or elimination isn’t possible, enable reuse. This means creating products that can be used repeatedly instead of disposed of after a single use. Designing for reuse can take many forms, from creating refillable containers to developing multi-use products.
People have witnessed a change from plastic to more eco-friendly materials such as metal, bamboo, glass, and recycled coffee grounds. This is to reduce the use of single-use plastics. We’re luckily also seeing this movement in ink cartridges, which can be refilled.
Designing for repairability also keeps the bulk of the product in use for longer, further reducing waste.
By designing products with a longer lifespan, you can reduce the need for replacement and, in turn, reduce the amount of plastic waste generated.
Level 3: Recycle
If neither elimination nor reuse is possible, make it recyclable. This means creating products that are easy to recycle and ensuring that they are made from materials that can be recycled. Designing for recycling can involve using a single plastic resin type for a product, making it easier to sort and recycle.
The purer the recycled plastic is, the better it can be used in new products, reducing the need for virgin plastic and closing the loop on the plastic lifecycle.
Following these steps in your product development process to enable your product strategy to reducing, reusing, and recycling plastic. Using sustainable and eco-friendly processes in product production can help decrease the amount of plastic waste created. The decisions made early in the design process are critical to the sustainability of the final product. These choices can have a huge effect.
By using alternatives to plastic, single-use products, and plastic products in general, you can do your part to reduce plastic waste and protect our planet.
So, are you up for the challenge?