The environmental profile of goods and services that satisfy our individual and societal needs is shaped by design activities. Substantial evidence suggests that current patterns of human activity on a global scale are not following a sustainable path. Necessary changes to achieve a more sustainable system will require that environmental issues be more effectively addressed in design. But at present much confusion surrounds the incorporation of environmental objectives into the design process. Although not yet fully embraced by industry, the product life cycle system is becoming widely recognized as a useful design framework for understanding the links between societal needs, economic systems and their environmental consequences. The product life cycle encompasses all activities from raw material extraction, manufacturing, and use to final disposal of all residuals.
The entire life of a product can be described as one set of activities and processes, while every one of them consumes a certain amount of resources and energy, goes through a series of transformations and triggers emissions of various kinds. The product life cycle is another way in which the environmental and social effects during the life-time of a product can be studies, assed and intervened for more sustainable outcomes.