Ecodesign Report – The Results of a survey Amongst Australian Industrial Design Consultancies


Many pursuing activities are in focus that can significantly reduce the negative environmental impact on the society. If we look at the present-day product growth most of this practice does not necessarily devotes any attention to making the products with a much ecological criterion in mind. This activity is termed as ecodesign.

For a better ecodesign development, the industrial designers and most of the industrial design consultancies can play a vital role in it. But how? Also, it is unclear as for how far this potential unfolds in the world of real product development process.

In this detailed report, proper findings from a research project which has investigated the eco-design practice of Australian industrial design consultancies has been pulled out, and the data has been collected via online survey and was previously supplemented by the analysis of commercial websites of industrial design consultancies.


The Commercial websites of Australian industrial design consultancies have been identified by using all the databases that are available on the internet for free. Some of the core sources include Core77, Yellow Pages, Australian Design, Awards and Design Institute of Australia. However, to include in this analysis these design consultancies need to have a working website along with a crystal-clear focus on industrial design. This report has excluded all such companies whose emphasis was on rapid prototyping, architecture or some similar data. Overall, 96 industrial design consultancies were identified to be applicable for this analysis and were approached via email containing a request to be added to the online survey. Though the response rate was 19%, still enough data was collected to give a clear picture of eco-design activities of the entire Australian Industrial Design Community. All of the findings have been supplemented properly by analyzing all of their capability statements and portfolios.

Involvement of Industrial Design Consultancies in Ecodesign activities

The survey taken by the industrial design consultancies had 83% work on ecodesign projects. Overall, 33% of respondents who haven’t practiced ecodesign so far are also promoting it to their customers. It must be noted that they are not convincing them to invest in their ecodesign services. From the survey respondents, only 6% had no potential offering in ecodesign service. This means they had no interest at all or may be to some extent but almost negligible.

We also found that the data from website content analysis also showed a very low ecodesign involvement of 45% among the Australian industrial design consultancies as compares to the survey participants who were 83 in percentage.

Most of the industrial consultancies work for clients who belong to various industries, and the survey reviled that the ecological considerations are quite frequently added in the packaging projects (67%) and the projects for the electronic industry as (47%).  Similarly, the furniture was 40%, Sports equipment 7%, Electronic Goods 47%, Medical devices 20%, Transportation design 13%, Machinery and investment good 13%, Packaging 67%, Recycling Systems 7%, Creative product 7%, Consumer Product 7% and Homewares also 13%.

Popularity of Ecodesign Interventions

For reducing the environmental impact of the solution, multiple ecodesign interventions can be easily followed. There is an extensive list of ecodesign interventions that has been published in the manual “Ecodesign-a-promising approach to sustainable production and consumptions.” This list has been structured in 8 main categories with further 33 subcategories. Obviously, the list cannot be complete and exhaustive as designing is quite a creative and complex process and there are always new ways to solve different problems. The research conducted below had a list that was primarily used as a starting point, and the survey allowed all the participants to suggest their respective ecodesign interventions and no further suggestions were listed by any of the respondents. This list has further investigated that the clients of the industrial design consultancies quite often sought for specific ecodesign interventions. The fame of these ecodesign interventions that were sought by the clients also varies in the same as the frequency of application of ecodesign interventions. It was concluded that the least popular area of intervention was ‘Optimising the distribution system.' Not to mention that this was the only area where the clients had demanded outstripped provision by the consultancy. “Low-impact materials selection” and “Materials usage reduction” were the most popular among this study.

In the popularity of ecodesign interventions, some data was either provided by the industrial design consultancy and some sought by the client. Here is a comparison of their percentage.

The Necessity of life cycle thinking and its application in practice

Eco-design interventions shouldn't be reproduced randomly within the desire of a better environmental performance. To secure a reduced environmental impact, the option needs to be informed by a Knowledge of the product’s predicted actual lifecycle, which ranges from the removal of natural Supplies within the product’s manufacturing, circulation and uses to its final disposal. This activity is Referred to as lifecycle thinking (LCT). To build up the required knowledge concerning the product’s Lifecycle, different methods could be adopted, which differ significantly in work as well as of detail they offer. These methods may vary from managing a full lifecycle assessment (LCA) on research items to simply instinct. On the connection with the individual, choosing the look treatment, it may be misleading to utilize less detailed analysis methods. Particularly counting on instinct just brings along a higher risk. Like biodegradable materials May, although they're regarded as being more “natural” than plastic, have a greater environmental impact. A good example for this is often located on the site, where an environmental load of single-use food shopping bags made of plastic or paper is compared. Although being produced from renewable sources and being biodegradable, paper bags are informed they have a somewhat worse environmental performance. Regardless of this danger, good sense works out to become the most used method for selecting appropriate ecodesign interventions. As well as checklists and guidelines, detailed impact Checks are utilized least often to recognize and choose appropriate ecodesign treatments.

Integration of ecodesign in the product development process

Ecodesign factors need to occur by classification throughout the product development process. This method could be split into two major stages:

- The product phase, which describes the key idea that'll be created, as well as the drivers for doing this

- The strict development phase, which develops an agenda for actually making the merchandise

The largest effect on all of the product’s qualities, including its environmental impact is taken in the product planning phase. It thus is most appropriate to apply ecodesign early. This also best helps to mediate potential conflicts between environmental and other requirements as well as best discovering possible win win situations. It, therefore, is essential to know how Much industrial design consultancies have an impact on this early stage of the product development process. It had been discovered that 73% of the study participants, who performed an ecodesign project, said The ecodesign implementation occurred at both levels. General, 89% of the survey-members state to possess some impact around the merchandise planning stage and they all seem to have an effect on the rigorous development stage. In contrast to results in the site content Research, which revealed only 40% of the commercial design consultancies providing services For your product planning stage, the participants of the study possess a stronger focus on this Section.

Ecodesign Projects

Individuals of the internet study were expected to reveal about one representative ecodesign project. In 43% of those tasks, creating an environmentally friendly solution the main concern. In another Jobs, ecodesign was of lower significance. In 86% of the circumstances, the project was conducted As well as a client who performed in 58% of the circumstances the crucial role for developing ecodesign into the product development process. Over fifty percent of those customers (60%) are small businesses with 2-25 employees. The tasks were divided between being created for the national market (45%) and global marketplace (55%). In 73% of the circumstances, the related ecodesign data was supplied by the industrial design consultancy.

Advertising of Ecodesign Services

To persuade customers and prospects of utilizing their ecodesign services, industrial design consultancies may use various communication channels. Most members of the Internet Study state to make use of personal stations before you start a design task for this purpose. Illustrations are presentations of the organization page (50%) or task briefing discussions (56 %). Showing free additional ecodesign ideas in a later phase of the task (13%) or getting involved in ecodesign contests (0%) are least common. Previous collaboration between both companies (33%) in addition to tips (25%) are described most often as useful Components to determine the required rely upon the customer organization to start an ecodesign project. Many individuals may perform a job for applying ecodesign into the product development process. They're of unique significance for that commercial design consultant as well as the client company. The next chart shows the most often mentioned driver for industrial design consultancies to take the effort to rehearse ecodesign.

Evaluation of the representative ecodesign projects

Individuals of the study were expected to judge the result of the ecodesign projects. Therefore many of them (92%) were confident the project led to an environmentally improved performance of the answer. Many tasks (92%) were done on-budget and all them to the satisfaction of the customer (100%). Many study participants said the project not only increased their relationship using the customer (100%) as well as helps them to attract new clients (92%). The bigger share of study participants confirms the performed ecodesign projects Increased the picture of the commercial design consultant (92%) in addition to the image of the customer company (100%).

Concluding Remarks

This study indicates that commercial design consultancies may perform a job for ecodesign uptake Within the product planning stage in addition to within the rigid growth stage and they and their clients can take advantage of this. The ecodesign treatments, utilized from the industrial design consultancies primarily reflect those, required by their customers. Industrial design consultancies generally seem to use good sense to direct their ecodesign efforts. When they don't have the necessary experience, this situation might hurt the appropriateness of the ecodesign interventions they apply. The lack of reveal and organized impact assessment Moreover, makes environmentally friendly advantage of the developed design questionable. Regarding client satisfaction, affordable advantage and status improvement ecodesign projects are Regarded as effective from the industrial design consultancies. Nevertheless, ecodesign doesn't seem to perform a significant role for many industrial design consultancies. To build up knowledge how to enhance this case, more detailed insight into Real life ecodesign projects needs to be acquired.

Further Research

This study is a part of a bigger task in the University of Technology, Sydney. It investigates where industrial design consultancies must direct their attempts to improve ecodesign practice. Also to take advantage of providing ecodesign like support for their customers. The following area of the project Can pay more focus on the customer perception and examine the relationship between the client company and industrial design consultancy in more detail in addition to the required modifications which happen in both companies. The information is going to be obtained by doing various case studies, investigating specific ecodesign projects.