/ PULSE ON DESIGNING FOR SUSTAINABILITY
Designing for sustainability is gaining traction
As companies everywhere amp up their ESG efforts, the idea of designing for sustainability is catching on in the engineering ranks. The majority of respondents in a recent Avnet survey said that they view it as an opportunity as part of their company’s business strategy.
The survey conducted by Avnet in June 2023 explored the actions companies are taking today around designing for sustainability. For the purposes of this survey, we defined “designing for sustainability” as a strategy for creating products that takes into consideration environmental impacts from concept to end of life. The survey was conducted among n=149 global recipients based in the Americas, EMEA, Asia and Japan.
of respondents who view sustainable product design as an opportunity have made progress in implementing it.
Low-power design and longevity are two key tactics
Globally, respondents found many sustainable design tactics to be important, with low-power (76%) and product longevity (77%) cited the most frequently as either a current tactic they are implementing or one that they plan to. The use of AI and the avoidance of non-renewable resources were least popular, presumably because AI is an emerging technology and material substitutions in electronics are costly and in some cases present unacceptable tradeoffs. (Note the data does not add to 100% as “not applicable” was deleted from the data.)
It’s important to note that all of these tactics to achieve sustainability in product design should be considered at the very start of the product development process.
of respondents plan to design products that last longer.
Customer demand will accelerate the adoption of sustainable design
Any departure from a longstanding practice to a new way of doing things—especially if higher costs factor in—typically requires a combination of mechanisms to influence that change, whether it’s through regulation or market opportunity. Survey respondents said that customer demand (40%) will be the most significant factor in advancing their own company’s adoption of design for sustainability tactics. Government regulations (15%) were also cited, along with the desire to gain a competitive advantage (10%).
The electronics industry has some work to do in the area of sustainability
Survey respondents feel that the industry performs best in providing visibility around component lead times (52%) and component end-of-life management (50%), citing that they are somewhat to extremely satisfied in these areas. However, more than half of respondents are not very or not at all satisfied with industry in important areas such as the availability of eco-friendly alternatives, information on the environmental impact of components and the availability of cost-effective alternatives. Coming in last on the list was efficient reverse logistics for recycling, with almost 70% of respondents expressing dissatisfaction with industry’s progress.
Many tactics are important for the electronics industry to make an impact on sustainability
In order for the electronics industry to make the biggest impact on design for sustainability, survey respondents say that it needs to be a multi-pronged effort: Visibility around product lead times tops the list with nearly 90% of respondents saying it’s extremely or very important, with component end-of-life coming in second with nearly ¾ of respondents saying it’s extremely or very important.