Design for product lifetimes focuses on the challenges surrounding the durability, reuse and recycling of products and their materials. The starting point, and implicit assumption, is that most of our current products don’t last long enough to justify the environmental impacts that accompany their production, distribution, use and end-of-life treatment.

With the recent European Commission’s initiative to make sustainable products the norm (EC, 2022), it is timely to focus research on how to make products last longer (what technologies, infrastructures and practices are needed for product lifetime extension) and on maximizing the environmental and societal benefits of product lifetime extension. At the same time, we need to investigate how to reap these benefits while avoiding potential pitfalls. And we need to critically examine our implicit assumptions: is product lifetime extension always the best way forward?

Research in product lifetimes draws on product design, service/business model design, cognitive psychology, social practice theory, sustainable consumption, life cycle assessment, economics, ethics, and other fields. The integration and cross-fertilization between these fields will hopefully lead to shared theoretical frameworks that will give direction to the research and bring benefits to society and the environment.

This session seeks contributions that describe novel design methods and/or theoretical underpinnings for product lifetimes and the environment.

Session owner: Prof. Conny Bakker, Delft University of Technology, the Netherlands.

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