We have a beautiful challenge: switching to abundant natural energy resources like wind and sun, using only non-toxic materials in products, designing products for long term use and creating closed circles of material use.Product design has partly influence on these aspects. A new way of thinking is required on marketing and corporate levels as well, new business models need to be explored. From our side we take on the challenge and made a start.
Do more goodFirst of all by creating only useful products, that are beneficial for people. Practically this means that we sometimes have to turn down a project request. In such a case we might find that a product is not very meaningful to people, might damage nature on a larger scale or does not match our values.
Long term useSecond by designing products that should last long. We understand that this might be in conflict with your marketing and sales targets. Yet the best way to be sustainable is to create, manufacture and earn on products that last extremely long. So it might require a re-thinking of your business model.
RethinkAnd third by taking more time to think and design concepts about what will happen to the product when it is not used anymore. Can it be send back to the manufacturer? Can we eliminate waste and re-use all or most of the parts and materials? How can we rely on natural energy? Can we eliminate toxic materials and substances that might enter our products in base materials, coatings, glues, etc.
Developing a sustainable single-material product from a bio-plastic is quite easy. The products we develop are always more complex, with more materials, complex structures. We do not proclaim we will find a 100% sustainable solution. Yet we challenge you to make a start together with us to do more good, take more time to think and consider new ways of approach.
Sustainability efforts with clear deliverablesIn practice it is easier to create unsustainable toxic products. Some technical plastics and rubbers like neoprene contain toxic substances, yet they are well known and perform well. Creating new business models, research into non-toxic glue or coating solutions, concept development into return-stream clues and logistics takes more creativity, effort and time.
On the long run it will pay back. It might help to attract better people that want to work for your organisation because you made a start to do more good. It might create a return stream of material that cuts costs on material purchase. It can improve your cash flow when switching to a service based business model.
Integrating the "sustainability" theme invisibly into a design project is one approach. The danger is that other aspects might appear more pressing: getting functionality right, running more tests with prototypes, so that sustainability is forgotten about. We propose to make the sustainability efforts that we do visible, with a separate budget and with clear deliverables. It's up to you to take on the challenge and leave this stage in the project.
Case: inline skate wheels, in a circular designThe patented wheel is build in two parts: a high quality aerospace alloy aluminum rim that will last for decades, with a durable nylon and TPU tire construction that allows the user to change tires, he does not need to dump the total wheel.
The tires can be collected and recycled, turning them into new tires. The nylon can be separated from the TPU, both of the materials are non-toxic.
"The interchangeable rim/rubber concept is a perfect example for ecological engineering. "
Case: Volvo L350 Hybrid wheelloader studyFuel consumption accounts for up to 30% of the total owning and operating cost of a wheel loader in this size class. The Volvo L350I Hybrid is equipped with an efficient diesel engine in combination with plug-in hybrid technology, offering lower fuel consumption.
During test drives and driver observations we found that operaters do not understand the energy consumption of the hydraulic system and in multiple cases keep lifting and lowering the load while driving, thinking that this does not consume energy.
The new plug-in hybrid system concept consists of innovative electric cylinders with powerful electro motors, to replace the need for hydraulics. While lowering the load, new electric energy can we generated by the same cylinders. Also braking will result in energy generation, while accelerating is assisted by the electro motor. Short jobs can be done completely electrically, after which the batteries can be charged again with a fast charger.