In today’s world, sustainable product development and manufacturing practices are crucial for minimizing environmental impact. One effective approach to achieve this is by incorporating QR codes and barcodes into the design process. These technologies enable efficient tracking, recycling, repurposing, and waste reduction throughout the product’s lifecycle. This article delves into the significance of QR codes and barcodes in designing for disassembly, highlighting their potential to revolutionize various industries, including fashion and beyond.
QR Codes and Barcodes:
A brief overview: QR codes, initially invented by Japanese company Denso Wave in 1994, are two-dimensional matrix barcodes widely used for labelling automobile parts and other items. They store data for locators, identifiers, and even website visitor tracking. Barcodes, on the other hand, represent data in a visual, machine-readable format through variations in line widths, spacings, and sizes. They can both be decoded using specialized applications on devices or smartphones equipped with built-in cameras.
Enhancing the Product Development Life Cycle (PDLC):
To effectively integrate deconstruction and sustainability principles into the product development life cycle, designers and engineers must consider how materials can be recycled, repurposed, or dismantled. By incorporating QR codes or barcodes, manufacturers can showcase the deconstruction process and provide essential information on recycling and repurposing methods. This approach aligns with the growing demand for circular economy practices that prioritize resource efficiency and waste reduction.
The product development life cycle disrupted:
You need to establish where this changes (or fits in) the product development cycle, create a business case (cost\ benefit), scalability and implementation, identify opportunities for potential end users: direct customer \ recyclers\ reuser\ repurposing start-ups, tangible\ intangible benefits measurement. This is an example of a product development life cycle which would differ by industry\ product;
Stage 1: Develop the idea\ ideation-Stage 2: Validate the idea -Stage 3: Build a prototype -Stage 4: Create the messaging \ Marketing development-Stage 5: Build the product\ testing-Stage 6 product release-Stage 7: Improve the product.
If this is the product cycle where would you consider deconstruction ? This is not new thinking but my first thoughts about creating a framework\ methodology is to look at the building and construction industry as deconstuction design is quite mature, possibly not with the current sustainability\ environmental emphasis, but all the elements and considerations and literature exists (this is not a deep dive):
Design for Deconstruction – helping construction unlock the benefits of the Circular Economy https://bregroup.com/buzz/design-for-deconstruction-helping-construction-unlock-the-benefits-of-the-circular-economy/
Design for deconstruction – unlocking the circular economy https://www.designingbuildings.co.uk/wiki/Design_for_deconstruction_-_unlocking_the_circular_economy,
EU Design for deconstruction guidelines https://susproc.jrc.ec.europa.eu/product-bureau/sites/default/files/2021-01/UM3_Indicator_2.4_v1.1_18pp.pdf,
The ecodesign methodologies to achieve buildings’ deconstruction: A review and framework https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S2352550921003791
Promoting circular economy in fashion and beyond:
Fast fashion and other industries notorious for wasteful practices can benefit greatly from implementing deconstruction QR codes or barcodes. Instead of discarding unsold items, brands can explore redesigning and relabelling options, preserving brand equity while avoiding unnecessary waste. QR codes or barcodes can guide consumers \ mass recyclers \ entrepreneurs on recycling or repurposing options, encouraging mass reuse and responsible disposal.
Expanding to other Products and Industries:
Designing for disassembly is not limited to the fashion industry alone. Other sectors, such as consumer goods, can also adopt similar practices. Smarter designs that incorporate dual or triple end-of-life uses, like plastic bottles transforming into planters, vases, or hydroponic filters, can be enhanced with QR codes, providing users with ideas for mass reuse or recycling.
Addressing product waste and food byproducts:
The concept of designing for disassembly extends beyond physical products to waste management. By creating ecosystems within cities, QR codes and barcodes can facilitate disposal, collection, and volume reuse of materials like coffee grounds or food waste. For example, coffee grounds can be repurposed as a renewable energy source or used in natural repellents or to reinforce concrete Recycled coffee grounds can be used to make stronger concrete . QR codes can guide individuals on proper disposal methods and suggest innovative reuse ideas.
Incorporating QR codes and barcodes into the product development and manufacturing eco-system presents a remarkable opportunity to design for disassembly, promote sustainability, and reduce waste. By leveraging these technologies, companies can enhance recycling efforts, encourage responsible consumption, and contribute to a circular economy. QR codes and barcodes enable the dissemination of crucial information regarding the deconstruction, recycling, and repurposing of products, ensuring their proper end-of-life management.
Furthermore, integrating these technologies into an improved product development life cycle offers immense potential for entrepreneurs. By considering deconstruction and sustainability principles from the early stages of idea development, entrepreneurs can create innovative products with built-in recyclability and multiple end-of-life uses. QR codes and barcodes can facilitate communication with consumers, providing guidance on recycling methods, repurposing ideas, and even fostering mass reuse initiatives.
This evolution in product development opens doors for entrepreneurial ventures focused on sustainable design, circular economy practices, and waste reduction. Entrepreneurs can seize opportunities to develop new businesses that specialize in product recycling, repurposing, and eco-friendly solutions. By combining creativity with technological advancements, entrepreneurs can contribute to a greener future while catering to the increasing demand for environmentally conscious products and services.
In conclusion, QR codes and barcodes play a crucial role in transforming the product development and manufacturing eco-system. They empower businesses to design for disassembly, reduce waste, and promote sustainable practices. Moreover, these technologies create fertile ground for entrepreneurial endeavors, enabling the emergence of innovative ventures that align with the growing consumer interest in environmentally friendly solutions. By embracing QR codes, barcodes, and an improved product development life cycle, we can pave the way for a more sustainable and prosperous future.
Update! 25/09/2023 : It was brought to my attention by a reader Emma Ewing to look at https://www.websiteplanet.com/blog/qr-code-statistics/
- “QR code” – Wikipedia: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/QR_code#Adoption
- “Barcode” – Wikipedia: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Barcode
- “Product Development Life Cycle” – ProductPlan: https://www.productplan.com/glossary/product-development-cycle/
- “How to Recycle Your Clothes” – BBC Future: https://www.bbc.com/future/article/20230227-how-to-recycle-your-clothes
- “Fashion Brands Burning Unsold Clothes” – Good On You: https://goodonyou.eco/fashion-brands-burn-unsold-clothes/
- “Why Destroying Products is Still a Problem for Fashion” – Vogue Business: https://www.voguebusiness.com/sustainability/why-destroying-products-is-still-an-everest-of-a-problem-for-fashion
- “Why Do Luxury Fashion Brands Burn Their Own Unsold Goods?” – Fashion Law Journal: https://fashionlawjournal.com/why-do-luxury-fashion-brands-burn-their-own-unsold-goods/
- “Making Consumer Products Sustainable by Designing for Disassembly (Part 1)” – Cambridge Consultants: https://www.cambridgeconsultants.com/insights/making-consumer-products-sustainable-by-designing-for-disassembly-part-1
- “Making Consumer Products Sustainable by Designing for Disassembly (Part 2)” – Cambridge Consultants: https://www.cambridgeconsultants.com/insights/making-consumer-products-sustainable-by-designing-for-disassembly-part-2
- “Leftover Coffee Grounds as a Renewable Energy Source” – Ordermentum: https://www.ordermentum.com/blog/leftover-coffee-grounds-are-now-a-renewable-energy-source
- “Circular Economy: How Can Used Coffee Grounds be Reused?” – MTPak Coffee: https://mtpak.coffee/2021/06/circular-economy-how-can-used-coffee-grounds-be-reused/#:~:text=The%20used%20coffee%20grounds%20also,acts%20as%20a%20natural%20repellent.