Product System Life Extension

Extending the life of a product can directly reduce environmental impact. In many cases, longer-lived products save resources and generate less waste because fewer units are needed to satisfy the same need. Doubling the life of a product translates into a pollution prevention of 50% in process transportation and distribution and a waste reduction of 50% at the end of the product's life.

Understanding why products are retired helps designers to extend the product system life. Reasons why products are no longer in use include:

• Technical obsolescence

• Fashion obsolescence

• Degraded performance or structural fatigue caused by normal wear over repeated use

• Environmental or chemical degradation

• Damage caused by accident or inappropriate use

To achieve a longer service life, designers must address issues beyond simple wear. A discussion of specific strategies for product life extension follows.

(a) Conventional Design

(a) Conventional Design

Municipal

Solid

Waste

(b) Green Design

Energy Efficiency Energy Efficiency

(b) Green Design

Energy Efficiency Energy Efficiency

FIG. 3.5.1 How product design affects material flows. Making changes in a product's design reduces overall environmental impact. The green design emphasizes the efficient use of material and energy, reduction of waste toxicity, and reuse and recycling of materials. (Reprinted from U.S. Congress Office of Technology Assessment 1992, Green products by design: Choices for a cleaner environment [U.S. Government Printing Office].)

Design for Recycling

Design for Reuse

FIG. 3.5.1 How product design affects material flows. Making changes in a product's design reduces overall environmental impact. The green design emphasizes the efficient use of material and energy, reduction of waste toxicity, and reuse and recycling of materials. (Reprinted from U.S. Congress Office of Technology Assessment 1992, Green products by design: Choices for a cleaner environment [U.S. Government Printing Office].)

Project Earth Conservation

Project Earth Conservation

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