The transition from the unhealthy consumptive patterns of modern technological life to a more sustainable mode of societal living has now begun. There is a clear need to re-address the manner, in which we develop and provide products to users and consumers, in order to be able to make leap-changes to the environmental profile of the products, rather than merely small incremental improvements. Or in other words, we need to move from focusing on the design and development of the simple artifact to the innovation of a whole product service system (PSS), including its socio-technical utility and behaviour problematic, in which the traditional producer-consumer relationship is rearranged, in order to deliver environmental and economical benefits for both customer and company alike. PSS development should result in enhanced consideration of utility, sustainability and societal values.
As market drivers shift from product-service, to use-service, to result-service, the design emphasis shifts from first-cost, to life-cycle-cost, to maximum-benefit. This evolution of sustainable service systems demands an increasingly holistic approach to the design process that requires the original definition of ‘the system’ to be extended to include a super-system. The development of Sustainable Service Systems requires innovative ideas, the involvement of new stakeholders and changes to innovation processes. Traditionally, innovation has been equated to ‘high risk’, and many organisations have been reluctant to devote precious resources to developing innovative new products, processes or services. Innovation projects with a ‘sustainability’ element are still treated with particularly caution. Sustainable product innovation is a new field and a business model which integrates economic, environmental, social and ethical issues is still to be developed (Charter and Tischner, 2001).
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