Written evidence submitted by the Design
Council (SIM 19)|
1.1 The Design Council welcomes the opportunity
to respond to the House of Commons Science and Technology Committee
inquiry into strategically important metals.
1.2 The Design Council is the UK's national strategic
body for design and government advisor on design.
1.3 Our response is built on the breadth of our
experience and expertise of working with business, universities
and the public sector. Our views are drawn from our Design
Industry Research 2010
and a strong evidence base from our design support programmes
including technology start ups, and technology transfer offices
in leading universities to help develop new products, services
and commercialise new technology.
1.4 Recover, reconstruct and rekindle should
be the keywords for a new, more environmentally conscious economic
1.5 With 80% of the environmental impact of today's
products, services and infrastructures being determined at the
designers have a critical role to play in tackling these issues
more comprehensively, fully integrating a green approach into
their standard practice.
1.6 There should be a greater integration of
design and design thinking methods with STEM and business curricula
at all education levels.
1.7 Government should embed cradle-to-cradle
thinking and look at an innovative approach to devising end-of-life
strategies as part of its Growth Review, bringing innovation,
technology, manufacturing and skills closer together.
1.8 Our response highlights: the value of design
to UK plc, how design could help tackle resource and material
scarcity through designing for deconstruction, nonpollution and
designing to last and how strategic use of design could help changing
business models and improving supply chains.
2. VALUE OF
2.1 The UK has a world leading design industry
worth £15 billion to the UK economy. An estimated 232,000
designers work in the UK, this is a 29% increase on 2005. The
industry is mainly made up SMEs and 93% of design businesses work
for clients in the UK.
2.2 The importance of design as a tool for innovation,
productivity and economic growth is accepted. Research has consistently
shown a link between the use of design and improved business performance
across key measures including turnover, profit and market share.
Between 1995 and 2004, the share prices of design-conscious companies
outperformed other firms by 200%.
For every £100 a design-alert business spends on design,
turnover increases by £225.
2.3 The UK creative industries, including design,
are a major and growing contributor to the UK economy. The UK
design industry is renowned worldwide and a draw for big business.
Multi-nationals base their design centres in the UK to take advantage
of the skilled design professionals and leading edge design, including
Yamaha Music Corporation, Nissan, Samsung, Nokia and Motorola.
2.4 Research indicates £15 billion was spent
on UK design in 2009 via in-house design teams and freelancers
and the added value of design to the wider economy is greater
than for any other sector in the creative industries.
The UK needs to play to this strength.
2.5 The UK government has made a strong commitment
to knowledge driven-economy rooted in new discoveries and with
a strong emphasis on green technology. They have ring-fenced the
science budget, committed to establishment of new Technology Innovation
Centres, and announced a new Green Investment Bank. However, our
research and practical experience at the Design Council has shown
that design is too often the missing link in turning new discoveries
into workable business propositions.
3. GREEN CHALLENGE
3.1 Inevitably, as oil prices keep rising and
the rate of oil production enters terminal decline, materials
and resources will become ever more expensive, pushing further
the drive for more environmental efficiency.
3.2 According to Dr Mike Pitts at the Royal Society
of Chemistry, since 1900 the UK has increased its consumption
of consumables by 40 times. The mass of raw materials extracted
to make them comes from an even bigger mass of minerals (it takes
1.5kg of raw material to make just one toothbrush, and the US
landfills 25 000 tonnes of toothbrushes every year), creating
a huge amount of CO2 emissions in the process.
3.3 Dr Pitts talked at Greengaged
in 2008 about other "peaks" in mined materials. He presented
a memorable slide of the periodic tablea visual representation
of every known element on the planetshowing how, if we
continued using and designing without easy (and safe) disassembly
and recycling, we would banish a big chunk of these essential
building blocks to landfill very soon. Five to 10 years' time,
in some instances.
3.4 So there is need for more responsibility
in the way we choose materials, and for a wider outlook for new
opportunities to turn waste into someone else's raw material.
4.1 What designers can bring to the party is
much more than a reactive approach. Generic principles such as
efficiency, nonpollution, whole-life design and dematerialisation,
can be used in any area of design. The more creative and more
ingenious we are, the quicker and bigger the positive environmental
paybacks. However, our design industry is slow on the uptake of
designing for deconstruction.
4.2 Mobile phones are case in point. Our wish
to upgrade to the next model is fuelled by tantalising ads and
seductive designs. Would this be such a problem if we designed
the phone so all the materials could be separated out? It becomes
an issue when considering how many different elements are built
into modern mobile phones. It is not to say that elements like
indium or gold will disappear completely, but designing in such
a way that we cannot get them out is irresponsible for future
needs. In 2005, more than $400 million (£255 million) worth
of metals were locked away in unused mobile phones, according
4.3 Appreciating raw materials is one half of
the processthe other is understanding production cycles
and reconfiguring them for optimum environmental efficiency. Innovation
in sustainable technology is happening at such a fast rate that
it is hard to keep up, but keep up we must, for new, sustainable
technology requires knowledgeable designers.
4.4 Examples abound in the field of packaging.
Nick Cliffe from Closed Loop plastics recycling plant reinforces
the need to understand what is actually able to be recycled with
what can technically be recycled, illustrating that you cannot
just substitute one material for another without understanding
4.5 For example, many designers and clients now
opt for a bioplastic bag. This is plastic with added degrader
in the mix (usually titanium). But this plastic is getting into
the recycling stream before the recycling infrastructure is ready,
often resulting in contaminated batches.
4.6 Some designers still don't understand the
consequences of decisions that are sometimes purely concerned
with aesthetics. Simple things like co-moulding two different
plastics in a toothbrush design or laminating a piece of paper
can predetermine its painful and slow landfill demise. This will
be where new alliances for the design, waste and materials industries
4.7 Some industriessuch as the automotive
sector, with its design of better vehicleshave become much
more efficient. And in areas where products are directly accountable
for using or emitting pollutants, there have been improvements.
Other positive impacts have come from legislation: the waste disposal
drive from Europe, through the EU Waste Electrical and Electronic
Equipment Directive, and higher landfill taxes have forced alternative
thinking on a product's afterlife.
5.1 Companies can strive to build more durable
products to ensure they last longer.
5.2 As an example, the furniture company Vitsoe
has become a market leader with a product designed to last a lifetime.
The 606 Universal Shelving System's stated aim is to "help
people live better with less that lasts longer." Its highly
flexible modularity allows owners to install and extend their
shelving easily themselves. For a nominal fee Vitsoe also offers
a service dismantling and rebuilding its system for relocation.
Also, designing product components for easy removal
and replacement encourages people to repair parts rather than
replacing the whole object when it breaks down.
5.3 The Aeron ergonomic chair shows how successful
these principles can be. It has 66% recycled parts and 100% of
its aluminium parts are recycled, making it about 95% less destructive
to materials, energy, water and air. All its plastic parts are
labelled with International Standards Organisation (ISO) recycling
symbols and the chair is easy to disassemble, with 94% recyclable
parts. Repair is simple and the chair has a 10-year life-spanabout
double that of an ordinary office chair. It has been a worldwide
success and has been recognised as a design classic by the Museum
of Modern Art in New York.
6.1 At the moment, when waste is re-used, it
is often downgraded. Cars are routinely melted down without separating
out useful metals such as copper, meaning these become unusable
in the resulting alloy.
6.2 Xerox, as well as saving resource by making
multi-functional products that scan, copy, fax and print, also
remanufacture their old products. They estimate that this results
in their products having up to seven lives. Xerox began remanufacturing
operations in the early 1990s and is now a world leader in this
Evidence suggests remanufacture can be twice as profitable as
manufacture, but few companies currently use it.
6.3 Another example is a design-led business
Remarkable pencils. In 1996 entrepreneur Edward Douglas Miller
decided to make pencils from recycled plastic cups. His company
Remarkable rethought waste, and developed a new product design,
supply chain and manufacturing process. Remarkable collaborated
with a specialist university research unit and also with external
design agencies to come up with a brand identity that communicated
the essence of the company's values. Since its launch Remarkable
has sold more than 100m pencils and has achieved listings with
numerous high profile retailers. Douglas Miller said: "Design
was integral to the whole thing."
7. CHANGING BUSINESS
7.1 In the long term the green economy will see
the UK develop new industry sectors, in which product and service
design will be crucial. In a knowledge based economy, the UK will
also need to develop whole new business models, supply chains
and ways of working, and here the use of strategic design methodologies
will be vital.
7.2 Over the last three years the Design Council
has used its roster of world-class Design Associates to work with
1,800 CEOs and their Boards to strengthen management awareness
of design as a strategic tool. On average every £1 spent
delivers £10 of economic value recorded in profits, sales
and jobs as Gross Value Added (or GVA).
7.3 One recent example is a young company that
has invented a mouldable silicon called Sugru that can be used
to repair household goods. With help from their Design Associate,
the MD has gone from a standing-start to attract investment and
her product has just been named by TIME magazine as one of the
best inventions of 2010.
7.4 A radical re-design was undertaken by the
car manufacturer Riversimple, who undertook to transform its business
model not just its product, production process or supply chain.
Riversimple designed a new car through "open source"
and they are going to lease this rather than sell it. This has
moved Riversimple from manufacturing into service provision, making
them an exemplar manu-service company.
7.5 Industry has utilized design skills to improve
the sustainability of the whole supply chain. In an effort to
reduce the impacts of cars on the environment and society, Toyota
has created an "Eco-Vehicle Assessment Systems" (Eco-VAS).
Eco-VAS is a design tool, which Toyota's engineers use to measure
vehicle impacts through their "life cycle"during
their design and production, distribution, use and disposal.
8.1 Definitions of Design
definition (2010): "Design is not simply aesthetics; it's
the rigorous process that links new technologies to businesscreating
things that work properly."
The Cox Review (2005):
"Design is what links creativity and innovation. It shapes
ideas to become practical and attractive propositions for users
or customers. Design may be described as creativity deployed to
a specific end."
Design as a driver of user-centered generation
(2009), the EC Commission's working document:
"Design for user-centred innovation is the activity of conceiving
and developing a plan for a new or significantly improved product,
service or system that ensures the best interface with user needs,
aspirations and abilities, and that allows for aspects of economic,
social and environmental sustainability to be taken into account."
20 January 2011
44 http://www.designcouncil.org.uk/our-work/Insight/Research/Design-Industry-Research-2010/ Back
over 2,000 companies across different sectors went through the
Design Council's Designing Demand programme to date, for more
info visit: http://www.designcouncil.org.uk/our-work/Support/Designing-Demand Back
How to do Ecodesign: A guide for environmentally friendly and
economically sound design, German Federal Environment Agency (ed),
Design Index, Design Council (2004) Back
Value of Design, Design Council (2007) Back
Labour Force Survey, ONS & Design Industry Research, Design
Council (March 2010) Back
Creative & Cultural Industries Economic & Demographic
footprint research, Creative & Cultural Skills (2008) Back
Thomas, S. Recovery mission: Vision 2011, Design Week,
December 2010 Back
A sustainability design forum hosted by the Design Council at
London Design Festival 2008, http://greengaged.com Back
Thomas, S, It's time to act, Sustainable Design Supplement,
Design Week, 2010 Back
Remanufacturing and Product Design, Caspar Gray, 2006
Caspar Gray interview with Rolf Steinhilper, 2006 Back