Eco-design is a concept that encompasses the form and function of a product and also its whole life cycle, including the post-consumer phase. Good design can reduce waste and generation of toxic products by usng lightweight, sustainable and recyclable materials. The Glassrite wine bottle is a new design sponsored by WRAP and is 40g lighter than the previously lightest UK product. The consumer cannot tell the difference and performance is on a par. If the new bottle ws adopted throughout the country, 153,000 tonnes of glass would be saved annually and CO2 emissions would be cut by 119,000 tonnes.
How products are dismantled is also part of good eco-design. Using screws rather than glue makes it easier to recover furniture or electronic goods for reuse or recycling. Linc is a concept phone designed in the US that can be returned to manufacturers each year for refurbishments and hardware updates. When it finally becomes life expired the Linc will be easier to dismantle for reprocessing.
Eco-design will only become mainstream if designers become aware and assume responsibility for the full product life cycle. Waste electronic and electrical equipment and vehicles are subject to extended producer legislation and EU directives have been issued specifying minimum product standards for energy and resource efficiency and imposing restrictions on the use of certain materials. Voluntary agreements can also play a part and they have helped to encourage UK retailers to work towards minimising packaging in product design.