Sustainable materials are prevalent within design, but industrial design lacks mass-manufactured product examples. This research explores this gap in knowledge to understand the influences affecting the selection of sustainable materials and how UK industrial designers could be better supported.
A comprehensive literature review explores the selection of sustainable materials within the context of industrial design. Existing tools and resources designed to support industrial designers are analysed to understand the support provision and requirements. The research approach explores individual attitudes, and the influences towards and against selecting sustainable materials. Four UK companies were studied to understand how sustainable materials are considered and utilised for mass-manufactured products. Two frameworks were designed to support and facilitate sustainable material selection. The first depicts the overarching support requirements whilst the second presents the considerations and strategies. Both frameworks were evaluated by experts and previous participants. A workshop with designers evaluated the efficacy of the second framework when used as a tool
The majority of industrial designers were aware of general issues of sustainability but rarely considered selecting sustainable materials. All four companies had experienced significant changes recently, including increasing resources and internal initiatives towards the use of sustainable materials. The market for sustainable materials is improving, but risks exist, such as fluctuating availability and market instability. A lack of awareness and understanding has meant that, in order to succeed, some companies have designed methods to educate stakeholders whilst designers have requested support to educate clients. Personal interest of the individual is a key driver, creating champions who raise awareness and boost confidence amongst colleagues. There is a need, not only for greater education and support, but also to improve engagement with sustainable material selection amongst industrial designers and others involved in the process.
A Doctoral Thesis. Submitted in partial fulfilment of the requirements for the award of Doctor of Philosophy of Loughborough University.