Life-Cycle Thinking and Sustainable Design for Emerging Consumer Electronic Product Systems

Authored by: Erinn G. Ryen , Callie W. Babbitt , Alex Lobos

Routledge Handbook of Sustainable Design

Print publication date:  July  2017
Online publication date:  July  2017

Print ISBN: 9781138650176
eBook ISBN: 9781315625508
Adobe ISBN:


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Rapid globalization and technological innovation has created a consumption conundrum: increasing production and consumption of goods and services has the potential to improve worldwide economic development and quality of life, but often at the cost of overextending natural resources and damaging global ecosystems. Rapid proliferation of consumer electronic products is a prime example of this challenge. In 2015, global spending on electronics was estimated to exceed $1 trillion by the Consumer Technology Association. This investment in digital infrastructure has created significant expansion in social and economic systems. For example, “smart” appliances and electric grids hold promise for resource conservation and climate change mitigation (Graedel and Allenby 2010). In developed economies, electronic products are the backbone of innovation and foster the transition to knowledge economies (Dutta and Mia 2009). Deploying electronics globally has also been transformative in developing and middle-income economies, as a factor in achieving Sustainable Development Goals: ending poverty, enabling quality education, and fostering economic growth (Batchelor et al. 2003).

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