In a probable future of legislated Extended Product Responsibility (EPR), Carbon offsetting, and growing concern for increasing landfill levels, the necessity for a shift in design systems is becoming increasingly apparent.
The notion of designing for the innovative reuse of existing components within highly agile manufacturing systems, or what has been called ‘re-design’, provides the basis of a sustainable design methodology which utilises devices such as information and communication technology (ICT), rapid manufacturing and component reuse to encourage ‘dematerialisation’, or a net reduction in material consumption, in society. It alters the way products and the consumption processes are perceived and opens up unprecedented possibility for product longevity.
The underlying premise of the methodology is the consideration of an individual product as an assemblage of functional modular components with multiple life spans, rather than a complete, stand alone object with a singular finite. These modular components can potentially be deconstructed, reconstructed and re-skinned in a number of different ways, turning the focus away from ‘product longevity’ to ‘component longevity’. Ultimately, the volume of materials entering waste and recycling streams may be reduced.
Re-design could also assist the growth of new industries and manufacturing techniques. For instance, provide mechanisms for bottom-up re-design, and the integration of existing components into new, low-volume products. The potential for product personalisation, distributed manufacturing systems and minimisation of product miles emerge as strong potential benefits for sustainable manufacturing, increasing both efficiency and reducing costs.