Consideration of sustainability in product development is becoming increasingly important and encompasses many aspects of product design. In this study, a bibliometric review of recent sustainable product design publications using Web of Science and VOSViewer is carried out. The review indicates that the majority of publications concerning sustainable product design is oriented towards environmental science-led subject areas and production-led journals. Analysis of author keyword co-occurrences reveals that circular economy, life cycle assessment, sustainable management, and optimization are the most popular topics in sustainable product design research. The analysis also reveals that the researchers fail to link sustainability research to activities in product design, which leads to the lack of access to relevant research that can make products more sustainable. Building on the findings, the authors propose four future research directions that aim to guide researchers to better correlate sustainability with product design, namely: sustainability interpretation, integration, assessment and validation, and improvement.


  • The academic discourse on sustainable product design has been thriving since VictorPapanek’s manifesto in 1985 [1]

  • Most sustainable product design tools are used at late design stages; Sustainable design recommendations need to be made widely accessible and easy to understand; Sustainability is often applied to single products and difficult to adapted to personalized, customizable products; Difficulty in identifying opportunities for better sustainability considerations; Price reductions for sustainable designs

  • The authors believe, based on the analysis presented, that research studies commonly fail to establish links between sustainability research and activities carried out during product design, which leads to a divorced process between design intent and design reality

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The academic discourse on sustainable product design has been thriving since Victor. Papanek’s manifesto in 1985 [1]. In recent years, experienced a paradigm shift to proactively design a product lifecycle, rather than a product only (Design for Life-Cycle), utilizing qualitative and quantitative sustainability indicators [4] Another popular philosophy is Cradle-to-Cradle design, which suggests a metaphorically nutrient-based perpetual flow of biological and technical metabolisms [5]. In addition to these well-established thought models, several researchers have proposed assessment systems, aiming to minimize the impact of products by enhancing decision making during the design process [6,7,8]. This study quantitatively analyses key terminology utilized in both product design and sustainability research and aims to identify interlinking theme clusters. With hundreds of new products launched every day globally, it is important to understand the current role of sustainability with product development and its function in the design process

Sustainability in Product Design
Bibliometric Analysis
Discussion and Future
Design Phase
Sustainability Interpretation
Sustainability Integration
Sustainability Assessment
Sustainability Validation and Improvement
Implications and Limitations

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