Environmental labels on products and services have been increasingly significant in influencing consumer purchasing and represent a crucial communication of the environmental credentials of products and companies. Yet their importance to industrial designers, who are recognised as having significant influence over the environmental impact of products, is less known. The overall aim of this research project is to investigate factors affecting the implementation of UK environmental labels by in-house industrial designers in UK Small and Medium-sized Enterprises (SMEs). A review of the literature on industrial designers and environmental labels found that there was a gap in knowledge surrounding the factors affecting how and whether in-house industrial designers implement labels in their work, and what understanding they have. In response to the literature review a number of research questions were generated, which influenced the direction of this emergent, exploratory research. A Preliminary Study was set up to collect qualitative data from practicing industrial designers in UK SMEs on their recognition and use of environmental label schemes. A mock-up Resource was consequently developed that provided the information the Preliminary Study participants claimed to need. During the Main Study the Resource was used as an elicitation tool to further probe designers‟ understanding and use of labels. Subsequently, three Case Studies were conducted with UK SMEs who have implemented labels on their products, to identify elements of best practice. The in-house SME designers in the study appeared to have knowledge of environmental label types and schemes. Both this and designers‟ position within their companies especially in terms of their input on design briefs moderates their ability to implement labels. The cooperation and contribution of colleagues is also significant to the effective application including driving their use and being willing to include them in the product development process from early stages to impact on success or effectiveness. It is suggested that a whole company approach is needed. This thesis provides an original contribution to knowledge on in-house designers' capability to implement labels; understanding of designers' current knowledge and use of labels; and the role of designers in all SMEs, not just those engaged in ecodesign or using environmental labels.
A Doctoral Thesis. Submitted in partial fulfilment of the requirements for the award of Doctor of Philosophy of Loughborough University.