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  • Writer's pictureMike Wynn

THE OPPORTUNITIES OF DESIGNING SUSTAINABLY WITH DUKU

Updated: Mar 8


Sustainable design with Duku

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HOW DID WE GET HERE?


Within the last decade, there has been a noticeable shift towards prioritising sustainability within product development and design. Increasing carbon emissions and the vast amount of waste created from single-use plastics have made it particularly important products are built with the future in mind.


Designs must now turn away from poor-quality mass-produced plastic products, that were given rise in the '80s and '90s, and instead move with the changing consumer awareness around the damage these products have done to our environment.


However, the materials used are just one part of the jigsaw that makes a truly sustainable product. This article outlines areas of sustainability and the opportunities within design that you may not have considered for your product.


Here at Duku, we are proud to have worked across all areas of sustainability in the last decade and have included some examples of our previous success stories.

 


BE ONE STEP AHEAD


For many businesses and entrepreneurs, it can be difficult to think about sustainability early in the design process. It's easy to neglect the product's life cycle when creating initial concept designs and prototypes because the focus is on functionality or aesthetics.


Thinking about the product's sustainability early in the process provides opportunities that could be overlooked. Making products reusable or more inclusive can provide you with a competitive advantage over your rivals trying to solve the same problem without these features.



BARTS HEALTH - MEDICAL TRAINING MANIKIN Hospitals and Universities spend thousands on expensive medical manikins to train practitioners for specific procedures. We reconsidered the process entirely, creating a product that creates manikins at very low cost. Inspired by a jelly mould and Tupperware ©, the design creates a mould into which a disposable (water-soluble) gelatin manikin can be created to produce a reusable,sustainable design.

BARTS HEALTH - MEDICAL TRAINING MANIKIN
BARTS HEALTH - MEDICAL TRAINING MANIKIN


RECYCLING AND RECYCLABILITY


Source and end-of-life must be considered when choosing your product's materials. Fully or partially recycled plastics make use of what would otherwise become landfill, be incinerated or worse, end up as rubbish in our environment. There can be limitations to what these materials are capable of in terms of their strength, appearance, durability and resistance to chemicals/UV; however, at Duku we will advise and guide material choice.


When considering the product's end-of-life, you must establish whether your chosen material can be recycled or deconstructed. Similar to kerbside recycling, products need to be put into groups based on their materials, i.e. aluminium, plastics etc. If your product is unable to be disassembled, it's unlikely to be recycled.  Additional finishes, paints and adhesives can also prevent parts from being recycled. Our team have experience in working to maximise the ease with which a product can be disassembled, so that it can be more widely recycled.



LEAN & MEAN - DESIGNING FOR PRODUCTION

 

Once you have established your initial design, it's important to consider how the product will be produced and how it will reach the end user following manufacture.


Designing your product to be compact while performing the same design functionality will enable you to reduce the amount of raw materials required to make it, and subsequently reduce the product's weight, meaning that it can be transported much more efficiently.


At Duku we have a history of producing minimalist designs that look stylish and sleek. We can also work with a client's existing product to make it more compact. We have also become experts in photorealistic renders, which reduce the need to create physical prototypes if they are not necessary.



View our 'Product Visualisation' service

KORETEK - Unique full body exercise equipment
KORETEK - UNIQUE FULL-BODY EXERCISE EQUIPMENT


TRACEABILITY & CIRCULAR DESIGN


It’s important to know where materials come from and the workforce involved in assembling your product to ensure it is truly sustainable. Knowing your supply chain and trusting the manufacturers of your product is key.


During the '70s and '80s, a reduction in export tariffs from the Far East – accompanied by low-cost labour – meant many businesses chose to off-shore production to countries such as South Korea and China. For the vast majority of plastic-based products, this remains the case, however, in the last few years, there has been a major movement to 're-shore' production to reduce harmful emissions. This has been accelerated by supply chain issues following the pandemic and BREXIT.


At Duku, we have established relationships with manufacturers that conform to environmental standards such as ISO 14001 and ethical sourcing to make sure the supply chain and sourcing of materials and parts can be understood and verified.


View our 'Manufacture' service


KITT MEDICAL Manufactured in the UK and including re-useable functionality via a subscription service, our work on an anaphylaxis prevention device helped our client achieve multiple awards, with the product since rolled out into hundreds of schools throughout the country.
Read more.

 

KITT - ANAPHYLAXIS TREATMENT DEVICE
KITT - ANAPHYLAXIS TREATMENT DEVICE


THINK INCLUSIVE


Inclusivity is often forgotten in the world of sustainable design. For years products have been designed without considering those who may be less able-bodied, including the elderly. With the rise in the ageing population, particularly across the UK, designing this way needs to become a centralised consideration. It is much better for the environment to create one product that can be used by all, rather than multiple designs that can only be used for particular groups of people.

 

We have had success in this area of sustainability after creating the UK's first fully accessible EV charger. By designing a product which is better for everyone, it has broadened the commercial applications and created very transferable technology to other related industries. This project has been recognised at both a regional and national level, leading us to speak at several high-profile events about the commercial benefit of this approach.



DUKU EV -  ACCESSIBLE EV CAR CHARGER
DUKU EV - ACCESSIBLE EV CAR CHARGER


THE BENEFITS FOR YOUR BRAND


For many of our products, sustainability has become part of their appeal, enabling them to tap into new markets and differentiate themselves from their competition. Here at Duku, we recognise that sustainability is integral to your product's success and will always consider it at the early stages of the product development process. Environmentally friendly design will help your product stand out; with good-quality manufacture and sustainably considered production, your product will be built to last and earn a reputation for quality and care.



HOW CAN WE HELP YOU?


If you need help to make your existing product more sustainable or need an experienced design consultancy to turn your idea into something that will stand the test of time, click below.



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