Design for Environment: Innovating to Compete
Table of Contents
- Drivers and Adoption
- Context and Benefits
- Final Remarks
- Annex I
It is estimated that over 80 percent of all product–related environmental impacts are determined during the design phase of a product.1 Businesses that design environmentally friendly (i.e. highly recyclable or energy efficient) products for their customers are successfully differentiating themselves. This trend emphasizes the importance of using Design for Environment (DfE) practices to help Canadian product design and development service providers and their supply chain partners introduce new and innovative product concepts and compete both domestically and internationally.
DfE integrates environmental considerations into the product design and development process. Firms use DfE practices to improve the environmental performance of products while reducing cost, boosting their competitive advantage, and stimulating innovation.2 The DfE process can involve designing products that use environmentally friendly materials, fewer resources, and/or less packaging. DfE can also focus on designing products that are more easily recycled, reused, or upgraded.
Goals of DfE3 can include:
- Reducing or eliminating waste throughout the product life cycle;
- Meeting or exceeding regulatory goals;
- Reducing energy consumption throughout the product life cycle;
- Improving logistics to minimize transportation throughout the product life cycle; and
- Maximizing the use of recovered materials and energy throughout the product life cycle.
In general, investment in a new business process such as DfE should be supported by a business plan that outlines a demonstrable return on investment. For this reason, Industry Canada has partnered with the Design Exchange (DX) and Canadian Manufacturers and Exporters (CME) to initiate research on DfE practices and their business benefits. Specific business benefits include greater product differentiation, successful compliance, increased sales, new access to foreign markets, better customer retention, and improved cost reduction.
It is expected that this research will help inform policy makers of current and future industry needs by identifying industry perspectives, issues, and drivers related to DfE practices.
In particular, this report assesses the:
- Use of DfE practices by industry;
- Internal and external pressures involved in adopting DfE practices;
- Specific DfE strategies that businesses use; and
- Business benefits that Best–in–Class (BiC) businesses gain.
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