Design for Sustainability: the perspective of EU residents
MetadataShow full item record
Introduction. As the design stage determines over 80% of the environmental impact in a product’s lifecycle, the introduction of sustainability dimensions in product design is fundamental. Eco-design is a method that focuses on including environmental aspects of sustainability in product design. However, going beyond eco-design, Design for Sustainability (DfS) integrates all three pillars of sustainability - people, planet, profit. Research on eco-design and DfS has primarily focused on technocratic perspectives. To advance knowledge on public attitudes towards DfS requirements, the following research question was addressed: How do EU residents value requirements for Design for Sustainability? In addition, the alignment of these values with positions of consumer organisations and policy was analysed. From this analysis could be concluded how the preferences of EU residents are embodied in current practices. Theory. A conceptual framework was developed that shows how residents, consumer organisations, business organisations, and the EU policy landscape on DfS interrelate and can further the adoption of DfS in the EU. Methods. A literature review was conducted to develop a comprehensive list of DfS requirements. To explore public attitudes towards these requirements, a survey was distributed in nine EU countries (Czechia, France, Germany, Ireland, Italy, the Netherlands, Poland, Spain, and Sweden). Finally, to analyse the alignment of public attitudes with the work of consumer organisations, interviews were conducted with consumer organisations across Europe. To align public attitudes with the current policy landscape on DfS, EU Directives were analysed using content analysis. Results. From the survey, could be concluded that EU residents particularly value durability, operational safety and efficiency, safe and fair working conditions, and premature replacement of products. On the other hand, requirements valued the least by residents were job creation, reducing the impact of transport and storage, cooperation between actors, waste management, and the use of product-service systems. Overall, it can be concluded that the attitudes towards DfS requirements of the three stakeholders align moderately well. Discussion and conclusion. The ultimate aim of this research was to provide input for the EU political agenda on DfS. Policy recommendations were formulated for requirements where misalignment between valuation can be found or where additional efforts may be beneficial. Ultimately, this study has provided a foundation for more research into DfS preferences by establishing a comprehensive list of DfS requirements. Subsequently, by adding the previously unexplored perspective of EU residents, a more holistic view of DfS requirements is provided.