Sustainable product innovation and development centres around the environmental, social, and economic aspects involved, factoring in the lifecycle of the product. This entails, innovation planning, looking at the strategic areas and opportunities. Ideation, factoring in sustainability from the very start of an idea, and concept development, involving the consideration of materials, production, usage, and disposal. This follows on to product development.
Rather than sustainability be an after thought or added bonus, we can use sustainability to drive innovation.
The milk float was one of the earliest forms of sustainable product innovation, as the battery would charge during the daytime at the dairy, enabling milk deliveries to be conducted during the night with minimum noise impact. The criteria for sustainable product innovation are that those products must be efficient, competitive, and cost effective.
Here are some examples of sustainable innovation that may inspire your next product idea.
The Rocket Book Everlast is a 36-page notebook with pages that can be wiped clean with a damp cloth. The pages look and feel like paper, but they are actually constructed from a polyester composite. As the ink dries it forms a complete bond to the polyester so it wont smudge. Once you have filled up the book, just snap a photo of your notes and wipe it clean. This is a brilliant product for those who prefer traditional handwriting and could save a lot of trees.
The Million Mile Light is one of our very own products, created by the inventor Tom Lawton. The MML is a battery free running light, powered solely by kinetic energy, meaning it lights up when you move. It eliminates the need for batteries and is designed to last forever, truly a buy-me-once product.
Most of us with or without a Netflix account will have seen, or heard, of Seaspiracy, and we all know how problematic plastic straws are to ocean life. The Loliware straw offers an alternative. It is a straw made out of seaweed, a highly renewable and regenerative resource.
It is a durable product that can withstand 18+ hours of continuous use that will start to fully degrade once composted. Loliware aim to reduce the use of single use plastic. Their straws are part of the circular economy, as they are a hyper-compostable and food-grade product, converted back into energy at the end of use.
On the topic of plastic pollution, toothbrushes are a big culprit. Once the bristles on a toothbrush ware down, there really is no other option than to chuck it out and get a new one. NOS have developed a more sustainable option, a toothbrush with a clipping mechanism to replace bamboo bristles. Since the bristles do not contain plastic, they are completely compostable, and the toothbrush itself is made from recycled plastics.