Sustainable product design, the benefits for businesses

Report from the Capgemini Research Institute, over 7 out of 10 recorded improvements in terms of revenues, customer satisfaction and employee engagement

67% of organizations experienced a reduction in carbon dioxide emissions following the implementation of sustainable product design strategies, while 73% saw an improvement in terms of revenue growth. This is what emerges from the latest report by the Capgemini Research Institute, entitled ‘Rethink: Why sustainable product design is the need of the hour’.

The report highlights the need to step up efforts in this direction, placing sustainability among the strategic priorities of the product design teams. The decisions taken at product design level have a significant influence on the environmental and social effects of the products themselves: about 80% of their environmental impact can in fact be traced back to the design phase. Conceiving eco-sustainable products is therefore a fundamental lever to allow organizations to reach their transition targets towards net zero, considering that emissions related to products can be responsible for a significant percentage of all emissions produced by companies. However, only 22% of organizations have made sustainability a central component of product design and about a quarter periodically conduct environmental (26%) and social (25%) impact assessments when developing new products.

“To achieve the objectives of reducing carbon emissions and pursue the general objectives of sustainable development, organizations must look beyond the individual problems related to product design and consider the system as a whole, from the early stages of product and service design to selection of materials, up to disposal. To this end, it is necessary to adopt a series of different approaches along the entire life cycle of the product, including systemic thinking, circular thinking and regenerative approaches – said Paolo Giordano, Head of frog in Italy, part of Capgemini Invent – The companies they must also take into account that many sustainability initiatives are characterized by a short-term sacrifice followed by a long-term gain, such as initial investments to avoid higher costs in the future ”.

The report highlights, among other things, that 61% of organizations adopting sustainable product design practices or planning to do so are motivated primarily by pressure from regulators.

In many cases it is believed that sustainable product design is too expensive, so much so that this perception represents a significant obstacle to its implementation. However, Capgemini found that, across all industries, 23% of companies that implemented at least one sustainable design strategy experienced a decrease in costs, while 37% said costs remained unchanged.

The report shows that organizations must consider investments in sustainable product design from a long-term perspective: many companies are already reaping benefits, as confirmed by 51% of the sample interviewed. Organizations have registered greater revenue growth (73%), better customer satisfaction (70%) and a greater employee engagement (79%), in addition to one reduction of carbon dioxide emissions (67%). Sustainable product design also represents an opportunity to reduce costs along the entire value chain, thanks to strategies such as ‘dematerialization’ and ‘lightweighting’, which aim to reduce the amount of materials used within a product. . Other advantages include greater production efficiency, for example through the reduction of energy and water consumption and assembly times, as well as lower transport costs thanks to optimized product and packaging design.