The Melbourne-based Plastics and Chemicals Industries Association has joined forces with government agency Sustainability Victoria to promote green product design and recycling.
PACIA Chief Executive Officer Margaret Donnan said Design for Sustainability, or D4S, recognizes that the environmental benefits and impacts of any product are locked in at its design stage.
Donnan said a new program, D4S with Plastics, is developing sustainability guides. Donnan said a dozen guides are expected to be posted on the PACIA Web site by March.
She said the guides will be used as reference material by designers and manufacturers to ensure sustainability is taken into account over the full life cycle of a product from the materials used to its potential for recycling.
Topics covered by the guides will include the design of building products and furniture, plastics recycling, packaging design, degradable polymers and the implications of a carbon-constrained economy.
``This program is important because plastics and chemicals are at the hub of every production chain,'' Donnan said. ``In addition, product design will increasingly become the biggest opportunity to deliver significant improvement in our response to pressing challenges like climate change and water scarcity.''
Diana Gibson, manager of sustainable products and services with Sustainability Victoria, said that because the D4S guides will be published on the Internet, they will be accessible by designers and those in the plastics industry throughout Australia.
She said the D4S with Plastics program highlights the importance of collaboration across every stage of the product chain.
``Our research shows many groups are involved in making decisions about a product's design, including manufacturers, suppliers, retailers, brand owners, recyclers, consumers and designers,'' Gibson said.
``All these groups have the power to influence the design and therefore the sustainability of a product.''
Gibson said the design guides will highlight the long-term environmental and economic benefits of D4S.
``Examples include products being wrapped in lighter packaging so they are more efficient to transport, products such as durable plastic water tanks that enable us to conserve water, and shorter-life products that have been assembled in such a way that they can be recovered and dismantled for recycling,'' she said.
For information on D4S with Plastics, see www.pacia.org.au/ _uploaditems/docs/4.d4squick start.pdf.