As a Product design student I developed a strong interest in sustainable design and joining the Ecodesign Centre team was the opportunity to expand on my area of interest beyond ‘making things out of cardboard’ and understand what sustainability means in a professional world. I met with Frank the morning of my arrival to discuss areas of interest around design for the circular economy. We quickly decided that it would be good to investigate the life cycle of the disposable ball point pen, and the surrounding sustainable issues and possible opportunities to improve them, hopefully raise some interesting points along the way. My preconceived ideas on the investigation were that the ballpoint pens (the Biro) are clearly an unsustainable product and my goals were to find out how unsustainable, and what could be done to make it sustainable. During my time here however it became clear that in the world of sustainable design there is no simple black and white, and solutions are not straightforward. To gain a real understanding I had to analyse the life cycle in more detail. Luckily for me there is a wealth of knowledge on BIC® the company that revolutionised the biro and in particular their Cristal ballpoint pen (it’s got its own Wikipedia page). It made for some interesting reading as according to Wikipedia, up to 2004, 100 billion Cristal ball point pens had been manufactured, and as BIC® themselves admit their ’products are generally not designed to be recycled’, as the singular product is not significant enough in weight and volume to be considered recyclable (Societe BIC, 2005). It begs the question ‘where are they all now?’ To put that into context, if you were able to collect and stand each pen end on end, there would be enough to reach the moon and back 20 times and would weigh approximately 590,000 tonnes.
Around 30 delegates representing the European Commission, United Nations and a host of other international organisations and governments attended the successful launch of the European Network of Ecodesign Centres (ENEC) at Mechelen on the 28th of November.
The event included a keynote from Michael Bennett (Policy Officer-Ecodesign, DG Enterprise and Industry, European Commission) on the critical role ENEC can play in supporting the Commission meet the challenges of a more resource efficient Europe. On behalf of the Commission Michael congratulated the founding members for taking the initiative in launching this first of its kind interregional collaborative network, inviting ENEC to work closely with them in ensuring Europe is at the forefront of stimulating demand for ecodesign.Tweet Read More
European based Ecodesign Centres lead the way in making ecodesign happen through launching a first of its kind interregional collaborative network.
Given the challenges of a more sustainable Europe five prominent Ecodesign Centres and their respective regional governmentshave joined forces to create a collaborative platform to generate, disseminate and apply ecodesign and life-cycle thinking knowledge. This first of its kind agreement has been termed the European Network of Ecodesign Centres with the network launch, in partnership with the European Commission, at Ovam in Mechelen (near Brussels) on the 28th of November.
The respective founding centres are Ecodesign Centre (Wales), in partnership with the Welsh Government, Basque Ecodesign Center part of Ihobe (Basque Country), Ovam Ecodesign (Flanders), Effizienz-Agentur (North Rhine-Westphalia) and Pole Eco-conception (Rhone-Alpes).Tweet Read More
In the last week we responded to two Welsh Government consultations – one on the Innovation Strategy for Wales and the other on the Sustainable Development Bill.
To support these consultations, we produced a position paper on how these policy areas are linked and what role ecodesign plays in these links.
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Watching the salterbaxter infographics on food waste made me wonder what role packaging plays in creating all this waste. For me the infographic demonstrates that we need to redesign the whole systems in order to get rid of waste. But if we were to just look at individual components such as packaging how would they look different to the current traditional designs. I’ve pulled together some latest developments in packaging to get a better understanding of what makes packaging sustainable.
On Wednesday I attended an Insider breakfast event hosted by Douglas Friedl at the Mercure Holland House Hotel, Cardiff. The event was well organized with a particularly good turnout from Welsh industry. Structured around a panel debate, to launch Made in Wales Awards 2012, the audience had been invited to submit questions in advance. The questions covered a broad range of issues including skills, infrastructure and the wider perception of Wales as a brand. My question centred on the panel’s view of environmentally and socially responsible design within their vision of sustainable growth. Their responses to my question are summarised here.
I presented at Business In The Community’s annual Mayday Summit last week. The key message I wanted to communicate was the value of creativity, through design and innovation, in delivering a Zero Waste Wales. The evolution of Orangebox’s product portfolio clearly demonstrates design as both a tool and a strategy for waste reduction across the lifecycle of a product.Tweet Read More
The ‘do’ chair is the latest in a line of ecodesign-led products from Welsh contemporary office seating company, Orangebox, who are no ordinary seating company. They take their environmental and social responsibility seriously. They care, and design accordingly. In fact design is at the core of their business model.
The ‘do’ chair is their most impressive offering yet. It looks great, has been designed to carefully consider its full life cycle (through to strategies for reuse), and shows without any doubt that ecodesign and good design are one and the same thing. The chair has a clear focus on less materials, parts and product miles without any compromise on style, quality or functionality.
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This is a short article I wrote for publication in the Chartered Institute of Waste Management newsletter.
image adapted from: http://ec.europa.eu/environment/waste/framework/index.htm
Increasing the use of recycled content in products is a vital strategy to achieve the Zero Waste targets as set out by the Welsh Government. As part of my PhD research with Orangebox, we have been looking at how businesses working in furniture design and manufacturing can do this. This research has highlighted that there is confusion across the industry regarding the differences between what it means to recycle, reuse, or treat waste through energy recovery. This misunderstanding is leading to a grouping of these categories into a single overarching ‘recyclable’ label that combines all three. More often than not, the evidence shows that reuse is better than recycling, is better than energy for waste, which is better than landfilling. Companies need to be more specific about how products and materials can be treated at the product’s End of Life.Tweet Read More
Last week I gave a presentation to approximately 50 designers, manufacturers and other business people in Latvia via the web. It was part of a workshop run by the British Council but planned and facilitated by Guy and Helena from Sprout design, Jonathan Chapman and myself. It was great to be able to connect and share experiences with people in Latvia from the comfort of my house in Cardiff. The main aim of my presentation was to demystiy some of the complex issues of sustainabity and design while highlighting lessons from some designers and companies in Wales that have already gone on the same journey I expect these companies in Latvia will be going on now.
It was an extra special honour to present to Latvian industry because my Msc thesis addressed the issues of design for sustainability in transition economies with a particular interest in Baltic states. I was fascinated by the shifting cultural context in post communist countries and how this would impact on design and sustainable development. It was great to see these same issues being discussed by companies in Latvia now. In fact, the event was way oversubscribed with more than 100 companies wanting to join.Tweet Read More
My presentation focused on the idea of waste as a social crime and proposed that everyone needs to take responsibility and show leadership to significantly accelerate the rate of required behavioural change. I put forward the case that we should move away immediately from using the term waste and instead view everything as resource. I also suggested we need to ‘use’ instead of ‘consume’ resource and transform rather than destroy. I reminded everyone that we should not use the excuse of ‘that’s the way it is’.
I presented 3 case studies; our work with Harman International on ecodesigning car speakers which emphasised the importance of material selection and true system impacts and costing; our ongoing work with Orangebox on ecodesigning office furniture which emphasised the importance of being transparent and viewing all materials as resource; and an example from the John Lewis Partnership of a unimaginably over-packaged shoe rack, imported from China, that did not assemble, which was delivered to my home the previous week. I brought the packaging with me to maximise the impact and will write a separate post on this, as I also want to contact John Lewis to get their side of the story.
I really enjoyed the day, with its mix of talks, workshops and exhibition, and as I always find with these type of events I met some really inspiring, knowledgeable and committed people. Thankfully the theme of ‘no more waste only resource’ carried through the day, and became a key outcome of the conference.
I ended with the following quote from Thich Nhat Hanh to emphasise our interconnectedness.
“To be” is inter-be. We cannot just be by ourselves alone. We have to inter-be with every other thing.
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This is an interview I did with the newly formed design and sustainability group 342collective . . . 342collective are a group of second year graphic design students at UWE. It’s reassuring and impressive to see such initiative from a group of undergraduates – Well done 342!
1. How have you changed your practice over time to become more sustainable?
This is a difficult question to answer as EDC do not actually design any products as such. We are a primarily a research centre that generate knowledge and best practice approaches for businesses, government and education. Because sustainability is so complex we need to work with businesses to help them to do ecodesign, with government to inform the right type of policies to then support the businesses, and with education to educate future designers in the right way!
The most directly design related approach is with businesses, to support them in adopting environmental practices. This includes for instance, helping them to understand the impacts of the materials they are using, implement environmental assessment methods for products and implement ecodesign techniques from early in the design stage.Tweet Read More
Earlier this week I had the pleasure of speaking at the Cylch Conference 2011 in Llandudno, along with attending the Wales Recycling Awards. I always feel inspired by the commitment, enthusiasm and activities of Cylch’s members network of social enterprises. This event was no exception.
My presentation focused on the role of ecodesign, particular in the context of the enterprises that recover and reuse products, such as furniture, electrical goods and clothing. I spoke about retaining material value through smarter recovery, adding value through design and the need for real partnership between sectors (e.g. designers, manufacturers, social enterprises, educators and government). I also reminded them that they are successful businesses in their own right.
I also posed the question “how are you contributing to the sustainability agenda?” reminding them that good intentions are not enough. We need sustainable businesses and sustainable results. I challenged them to go out and lead the way, retain their values and inspire others to follow.Tweet Read More