“Innovation”- Five Reasons to Commit to Sustainability in a Volatile Economy
During uncertain times, businesses will be tempted to shift their attention to budget cuts and other cost-saving steps with sustainability programs likely being among the casualties. Those who embrace sustainability as a part of mainstream product development, however, realize that it provides a path to a competitive advantage. Here is reason #2 to aggressively pursue sustainability in a shaky economy.
Sustainability Spurs Innovation!
Driven to reach both business and sustainability goals, engineers are rethinking all aspects of products and packages from the physical design itself, to the materials used. How might substituting one material for another impact weight, cost to produce, and quality? Will the new design negatively impact aesthetics or appeal? Reducing weight will save manufacturing and shipping cost; but do we compromise structural integrity and risk product damage, excessive warranty claims, personal injury or mitigation?
Today’s sustainability software tools allow engineers to answer these and other questions in the early upstream design stages. Designers quickly analyze a number of design iterations calculating and determining trade-offs between cost, weight, aesthetics, manufacturability, and environmental impact.
One chair designer set out to rethink materials. Understanding that the sole purpose of a chair backing was to provide support, the search began for alternative materials. Among the goals:
- The chair would have to perform its basic function
- Safety would remain paramount
- Could be manufactured with more sustainable, and less costly, materials.
The designer discovered that chalk was a renewable mineral that could be combined with plastic. This would allow the chair to be manufactured using more bio-based material. The result was a product that met all performance requirements, was less expensive to manufacture, and contained more renewable materials.