Title: Transitions in sustainable product design research

Authors: Casper Boks, Timothy C. McAloone

Addresses: Department of Product Design, Faculty of Engineering Science and Technology, Norwegian University of Science and Technology, Kolbjorn Hejes vei 2b, NO-7491 Trondheim, Norway. ' Section of Engineering Design and Product Development, Department of Management Engineering, Technical University of Denmark, Building 426, DK-2800 Kgs. Lyngby, Denmark

Abstract: By the early 1990s, sustainable product innovation (also known as ecodesign or design for environment) had gained sufficient critical mass in academic research to be identified as a distinct research area. In the past 15 years, stimulated by a growing environmental concern and awareness in the media, it has expanded considerably from a group of opportunistic eco-pathfinders trying to optimise products| recyclability into an acknowledged scientific research area regarding technology transfer and commercialisation. This paper proposes that this maturing process took place through a number of transitions; this is illustrated by discussing the characteristic aspects of each transition, which together provide a historic account of how academic research into sustainable product innovation has matured. In conclusion, several possible future transitions or extensions of the research area are discussed.

Keywords: sustainable product design; ecodesign; design for environment; DfE; design research; product development; sustainability; product innovation.

DOI: 10.1504/IJPD.2009.027475

International Journal of Product Development, 2009 Vol.9 No.4, pp.429 - 449

Published online: 26 Jul 2009 *

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