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Firms must embed sustainability within their product-design processes: Report


Modern technology products that are built in a complete commercially-driven framework often turn out to be harmful for the environment. Hence, organisations must embed sustainability within their product-design processes, due to its potential for positive environmental and social impacts as well as improving financial performance, according to IT consulting firm Capgemini. 

Sustainable design can be defined as “maximising environmental, social, and economic benefits over a system’s lifecycle, while minimising associated social and environmental costs.” Here, the performance of a system is measured not only by the profit it generates, but also by positive impact on people and the planet. 

In a recently released report Capgemini said, around 67% of organisations have seen a reduction in carbon emissions due to the implementation of sustainable product design strategies, while 73% have seen an improvement in revenue growth, followed by improved customer satisfaction (70%), and improved employee engagement (79%) alongside carbon emissions reduction (67%). 


The report, which surveyed 900 senior product design and engineering executives from large organisations across industries including consumer tech automotive, industrial manufacturing, aerospace and defense, high-tech, and medical devices, said that some 80% of the environmental impact of products can be attributed to decisions made at the design stage. 

While companies are aware that product emissions can account for a major share of organisations’ overall emissions that can be mitigated only by sustainable design strategies, yet just 22% of organisations have made sustainability a primary component of product design, and only around a quarter of organisations conduct regular environmental (26%) and social-impact (25%) assessments when creating new products.  

“In order to reach their carbon reduction targets and to deliver on overall sustainable development goals, organisations need to think beyond isolated design problems and consider the system as a whole, from the early stages of product design to selection of materials and end-of-life management. This necessitates a series of different approaches across the entire product lifecycle, including systems thinking, circular design thinking, and regenerative approaches,” said Roshan Gya, Global Head of Intelligent Industry at Capgemini. 


“Organisations must also keep in mind that many sustainability initiatives are characterised by a short-term pain followed by long-term gain, such as up-front investments to avoid larger costs in the future,” said Gya.  

Companies must also collaborate with stakeholders across the value chain to jointly determine sustainable design decisions, invest in partnerships to build new competencies and utilise technology more efficiently, to support their sustainable product design initiatives, he said.  

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