Improve Products and Services


Improve products and services: understand and improve the sustainability of products and services both in terms of their production and their performance.


To what extent do you make efforts to understand and improve the sustainability performance of your products and services?

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Whole Systems and Lifecycle Thinking

This short clip provides a great introduction to applying whole systems and lifecycle thinking to a product using the example of a clothes dryer. It was developed as a part of the Autodesk Education Community's Sustainability Workshop. The page also has a slide deck and video script, as well as links to information on Life Cycle Assessment, The Rocky Mountain Institute's 10xE design principles, and biomimicry.

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Handbook for Product Social Impact Assessment

This comprehensive handbook outlines a method for analyzing the social impacts of a product across its entire life cycle. It presents a number of indicators you can use to make impacts more visible and potentially identify hotspots, risks, and opportunities for improvement. It was developed by The Roundtable for Product Social Metrics, a business-led working group that works in collaboration with academia, NGOs, government, and industry organisations.

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Biomimicry in Action

Janine Benyus shares a few stories about taking design advice from nature in this TED Talk. Biomimicry, a discipline developed by Benyus, is about sustainable innovation inspired by nature. Whether it’s waterproofing, optimizing packing space, repelling bacteria naturally, optimizing energy use, filtering water, or even using CO2 as a building block in cement, nature has answers.

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The Higg Index

This is an open-source set of assessment tools from the Sustainable Apparel Coalition developed for apparel and footwear companies to assess the sustainability of their value chain. It is intended to enable companies to standardize how they assess their sustainability performance. The tools were originally released in 2012, but were revised and released as the Higg Index 2.0 in 2013.

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Model Behavior: 20 Business Model Innovations for Sustainability

Skim over this report if your organisation is considering how to start innovating for sustainability. It offers insight into twenty different approaches along with examples from a diverse range of organisations. The report was developed by SustainAbility, a think tank and strategic advisory firm.

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Okala EcoDesign Wheel App

This "brainstorming tool" is a great prompt for early thinking on improving the sustainability of a product or service. Taken from the Okala Practitioner Guide, it organises different strategies for minimizing ecological impact around the stages of the product life-cycle.

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Circular Economy Snapshot: Philips Light as a Service

This brief case study from the National Zero Waste Council discusses how Philips, the Dutch lighting, healthcare, and customer life cycle company incorporated a circular economy business model by offering its product as a service. Phillips did this by offering a service to install LED lamp systems and implement smart energy meters and ultimately achieved 55% energy savings. Through the consistent improvement of their products and services, Philips has grown to be the world's largest lighting supplier.

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