Working with development of more sustainable products

By Ann-Christin Pålsson, Johan Widheden, Sofia Petersson, Johan Tivander & Ulrika Palme

In the product development, much of the sustainability performance of the product is determined and set through selection of materials and suppliers, design of functionality and intended use, as well as for end-of-life. The development is made based on consumer and customer insights and expectations.

Thus, to actively improve the sustainability performance of products, sustainability aspects need to be included into both the strategic and day-to-day work with product development. This can give a competitive advantage to meet and respond to future challenges, such as increasing customer or consumer demands, stricter legislation, increasing raw material prices or general societal concerns.

Generally the development of products within an organisation involves both short term and long term more research oriented considerations and activities. It is vital to account for future changes in the market of the products, but also future changes in the market for raw materials and their availability as well as energy and technologies.

The work with development of more sustainable products can include the following tasks:

The work involves a close cooperation between different functions in the company, between R&D, sourcing, manufacturing and marketing & sales. It also involves close cooperation and communication with suppliers and customers.

Note: The development of products and the development of manufacturing processes are very much interlinked. The examples below are, however, focused on the product development. The development of more sustainable production processes is further described in the activity: Own manufacturing at this website.

In the getting started guide for Life Cycle Assessment (LCA), some information is available on how LCA can be applied to support work with product development.


Review your product portfolio

Incorporate sustainability into product development processes