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Introduction - Usage

The aim of this strategy is to reduce the replacement frequency and improve the product efficiency for resource consumption. In principle, an extended lifetime of a product leads to a reduction of the environmental impact of our consumption pattern. However, if the product is consuming resources such as energy, water or other materials then the product lifetime needs to be optimised, against product efficiency to ensure the overall environmental impact is minimised. (Nes and Cramer, Cooper, van Hemel, Kostecki)

For example, consider the “7 year pen” Link, little energy is consumed in the use phase, therefore extending product lifetime is environmentally sound as it avoids buying replacement pens. Although, using replaceable ink cartridges could lower the impact even further. Conversely, consider a hairdryer designed with a 20 year lifetime. If energy efficiency trends show that power consumption for a typical hairdryer will be 50% lower in 5 years, does the hairdryer need to be designed with such a long lifetime?

The overall environmental impact throughout the entire product lifecycle needs to be assessed and optimised. If you do so, your customers will thank you for it as you’ll be saving them money.


  • Total cost of ownership for customer reduces
  • Reduced overall environmental impact from lower resources consumption and emissions produced
  • Ability to offer additional services like maintenance, upgrades and additional modules
(van Nes and Cramer, 2005)


Longer lifetime could impact sales and profits (van Nes and Cramer, 2005) Longer life span could reduce sales and profits Improved value to the customer and possibility to offer additional services such as maintenance, upgrading and selling additional modules
The product lifetime is primarily determined by the user, not by the manufacturer (Stahel, 1986) Customer’s might dispose of products before the end of life due to fashion or keeping up with technological advances Design for modularity to keep products up-to-date and incentivise customers to keep products for longer
Investment required to improve lifetime or efficiency of product (Kleyner and Sandborn, 2007) Initial investment required for design, development, testing, production and post-sales support Offering optimised product lifetimes can be a competitive differentiator and can bring new sales

Product Design

Product must be dependable which includes:

  • Reliability
  • Availability
  • Maintainability
  • Quality
  • Safety
(Fernandez, 2001)

Whilst being dependable the product should also be consuming resources efficiently such as energy, water and other materials.

Case studies

  • Graphic Design

    Dyson have developed a new airblade hand dryer has reduced electricity consumption through a totally new design, changing the motor and air outlet, drying hands quicker and more hygienically. The new hand dryer also saves 69% of energy costs in comparison to a regular dryer. Link

  • Graphic Design

    Flint and Tinder will soon launch their “10 year hoody”, designed to last a lifetime, guaranteed for 10 years. The hoody comes with free repairs in this time, giving the customer piece of mind and great value for money. Link

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