A-level Graphic Products/Edexcel/Unit 3 :Designing for the Future/Sustainability/Cleaner design and technology

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Sustainable product design[edit]

Designers now need to consider the following when creating their products:

  • Easy to dismantle for re-pair, reuse to extend the life-span.
  • Easy to dismantle and part the different material for recycling
  • Easy to remove separate parts that have a different repair criteria.
  • Reduction in the material used to produce the product.
  • Label the material in order to sort them correctly
  • Avoid coating the material with something that would make it more difficult to recycle.

In the book, "The Total Beauty of Sustainable Products", there are five factors that make a product sustainable:

  • Cyclic
Made from biodegradable materials, or mineral that are recycled, E.g. Biopol®
  • Solar
Products that only consume renewable sources of power. E.g. Solar cells
  • Safe
Products that don't do any harm the environment. E.g. They don't emit emission during manufacture.
  • Efficient
Products that require less energy than they did previously. E.g. click here
  • Social
Products that support human rights and natural practices. E.g. Fairtrade products.

Raw materials[edit]

Material have an economic and environment cost; for example metals are abundant, but they need a lot of energy to get them out of the rock, and a lot of money to pay people to use expensive machinery to take it out.

Table of the environmental impact of raw materials for packaging[edit]

Packaging material Raw material Extraction Processing
Paper and board Trees Click here for details Chemical pollutants used in chemical wood pulp production/bleaching
  • Aluminium from Bauxite ore
  • Steel from Iron Ore
Mining, Energy use, Open-cast mining and transport Large amounts of energy put into the processing of these ores which gives out carbon emissions.
Polymers Crude Oil Drilling, Energy use, destruction of habitat Large amounts of energy put into the processing of these polymers which gives out carbon emissions.


Ways to reduce use of materials in manufacturing:

  • Make a simpler design
  • Different materials to reduce weight or quantity needed.
  • Materials that use less energy to process.
  • Simpler components
  • Better work flow.

The Coca-Cola '202' drinks can[edit]

This is a can developed by Coca-Cola Enterprise Ltd that replaced the 206 can. The difference is that the top of the can went from a diameter of 206, to a diameter of 202, thus making a material reduction.[1]

This small change resulted in:

  • £1 Saving per 1,000,000 cans
  • £2,300,000 saving per year from 1995 onwards
  • Made the can more light weight, better for delivery.

Another way they made material cost changes was that they changed the way that the aluminium sheet were cut, rather than a square tesselation, they interlocked each circular shape, this saved them around 12.1% of aluminium.


The main problem is a lot of energy is needed and that a lot of carbon emissions are released, with congested roads not helping. Other forms of transport could be used like a train.

If a delivery lorry wants to reduce the fuel used, then the following could be changed:

  • Move the manufacturing company to a better location, nearer to delivery location(s).
  • Reducing the amount of products
  • Lightening the load, make lighter products
  • Driving sensibly
  • using alternative fuels

Alternatives to fossil fuels[edit]

A good solution for the distribution problem would be to use an alternative eco-friendly fuel, however, there is currently a lack of availability.

Table of alternative fossil fuels[edit]

Fuel Type Advantages Disadvantages
Liquefied petroleum gas (LPG)
  • Good availability
  • Large supply
  • Range of kits available
  • Reduction in emissions
  • Low cost
  • Reliable performance
  • Doesn't work with diesel
  • No factory-fit models yet
Bio ethanol
  • Reduced emissions
  • Increased power
  • Factory-fit models available
  • Renewable fuel
  • Poor availability
  • Limited availability of vehicles
  • Not cheap
Compressed natural gas
  • Works with diesel vehicles
  • Similar economy to diesel
  • Reduced emissions.
  • Poor availability
  • Limited availability for vehicle kits
  • No emissions
  • Renewable
  • Poor availability
  • Limited availability for vehicle kits
  • Zero Emissions
  • Little range
  • Slow charge times

Use and maintenance[edit]

Issues in current product are that they are too difficult to fix if they are broken, meaning that the whole thing needs to be thrown away, this is a waste. For more on this, see: built-in obselecence