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December  2017, 7(4): 435-455. doi: 10.3934/naco.2017027

## An investigation of the most important factors for sustainable product development using evidential reasoning

 School of Innovation, Design and Engineering, Mälardalen University, Eskilstuna, Sweden

* Corresponding author

Received  October 2016 Revised  August 2017 Published  October 2017

Fund Project: This paper was prepared at the occasion of The 12th International Conference on Industrial Engineering (ICIE 2016), Tehran, Iran, January 25-26,2016, with its Associate Editors of Numerical Algebra, Control and Optimization (NACO) being Assoc. Prof. A. (Nima) Mirzazadeh, Kharazmi University, Tehran, Iran, and Prof. Gerhard-Wilhelm Weber, Middle East Technical University, Ankara, Turkey.

Those working in product development need to consider sustainability, being careful not to compromise the future generation's ability to satisfy its needs. Several strategies guide companies towards sustainability. This paper studies six of these strategies: eco-design, green design, cradle-to-cradle, design for environment, zero waste, and life cycle approaches. Based on a literature review and semi-structured interviews, it identifies 22 factors of sustainability from the perspective of manufacturers. The purpose is to determine which are the most important and to use them as a foundation for a new design strategy. A survey based on the 22 factors was given to people working with product development; they graded each factor by importance. The resulting qualitative data were analyzed using evidential reasoning. The analysis found the factors "minimize use of toxic substances, " "increase competitiveness, " "economic benefits, " "reduce material usage, " "material selection, " "reduce emissions, " and "increase product functionality" are more important and should serve as the foundation for a new approach to sustainable product development.

Citation: Farzaneh Ahmadzadeh, Kathrina Jederström, Maria Plahn, Anna Olsson, Isabell Foyer. An investigation of the most important factors for sustainable product development using evidential reasoning. Numerical Algebra, Control & Optimization, 2017, 7 (4) : 435-455. doi: 10.3934/naco.2017027
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Generic framework to assess general property
Visual representation of ER steps
Diagram showing the importance of factors for sustainable product development
 Method Advantages Disadvantages Eco Design Increased competitiveness [13] Decreased variable costs [32], [36] Less use of toxic materials [32] Increased product functionality [36], [46] Improved economic performance [36] Increased revenue [13] Increased sales volumes [13] Less energy usage [32] Prolonged product life [32], [36], [46] Improved company image [13] Reduced material use [7], [24], [32], [36], [46] Increased fixed costs [36] Only short term economic benefits [36] Green design Optimized operational practices [5], [17], [19] Reduced use of non-renewable resources [3], [19], [34] Waste minimized [6], [19], [34] Increased use of renewable materials [3], [34] Increased use of renewable energy [3], [19], [34] Social business strategies incorporated [10] Requires investment in new operating tools [5] Too many unclear suggestions [6] Cradle-to- cradle Waste eliminated [8], [9], [33] Products are biodegradable [9] Eternal recyclability [9] Increased economic activity [9] Increased job opportunities [9] Certification available [33] Might be overconfident [4] Design for environment Waste is reduced [16], [45] Improved material chemistry [39] Improved design for disassembly [16], [39], [45] Increased recyclability [39], [45] Too many tools and techniques [45] Zero Waste Pollution is prevented [30], [55] Waste eliminated [18], [31], [55] Reduced toxicity [30], [55] Increased recyclability [18] Increased reuse of materials [55] Decreased costs of waste disposal [12], [18], [31] Increased revenue by selling used materials [14] Requires transformation of current systems [54] Increased short- term costs [14] Life-Cycle approaches Reduced long term environmental impact of the product [29], [38] Decreased costs for service [41] Increased environmental impact awareness [57] Holistic approach [4], [38], [57] Often used in retrospect [28], [38] Cannot be used properly for reused, recycled and re- manufactured products [41]
 Method Advantages Disadvantages Eco Design Increased competitiveness [13] Decreased variable costs [32], [36] Less use of toxic materials [32] Increased product functionality [36], [46] Improved economic performance [36] Increased revenue [13] Increased sales volumes [13] Less energy usage [32] Prolonged product life [32], [36], [46] Improved company image [13] Reduced material use [7], [24], [32], [36], [46] Increased fixed costs [36] Only short term economic benefits [36] Green design Optimized operational practices [5], [17], [19] Reduced use of non-renewable resources [3], [19], [34] Waste minimized [6], [19], [34] Increased use of renewable materials [3], [34] Increased use of renewable energy [3], [19], [34] Social business strategies incorporated [10] Requires investment in new operating tools [5] Too many unclear suggestions [6] Cradle-to- cradle Waste eliminated [8], [9], [33] Products are biodegradable [9] Eternal recyclability [9] Increased economic activity [9] Increased job opportunities [9] Certification available [33] Might be overconfident [4] Design for environment Waste is reduced [16], [45] Improved material chemistry [39] Improved design for disassembly [16], [39], [45] Increased recyclability [39], [45] Too many tools and techniques [45] Zero Waste Pollution is prevented [30], [55] Waste eliminated [18], [31], [55] Reduced toxicity [30], [55] Increased recyclability [18] Increased reuse of materials [55] Decreased costs of waste disposal [12], [18], [31] Increased revenue by selling used materials [14] Requires transformation of current systems [54] Increased short- term costs [14] Life-Cycle approaches Reduced long term environmental impact of the product [29], [38] Decreased costs for service [41] Increased environmental impact awareness [57] Holistic approach [4], [38], [57] Often used in retrospect [28], [38] Cannot be used properly for reused, recycled and re- manufactured products [41]
Factors identified in sustainable design and the corresponding strategies
Assigned weights, belief degrees and calculated probability masses
 Evalutation Grade Weight Belief $H_1, H_2, H_3$ $\omega_i$ $\beta_{1, i}$ $\beta_{2, i}$ $\beta_{3, i}$ $\beta_{H}$ $\varepsilon_1$ 0.35 0.4 0.5 0 0.1 $\varepsilon_2$ 0.65 0.1 0.75 0.15 0 Probability Mass $m_{1, i}$ $m_{2, i}$ $m_{3, i}$ $m_{H, i}$ $\bar{m}_{H, i}$ $\tilde{m}_{H, i}$ 0.14 0.175 0 0.685 0.65 0.035 0.065 0.4875 0.0975 0.35 0.35 0
 Evalutation Grade Weight Belief $H_1, H_2, H_3$ $\omega_i$ $\beta_{1, i}$ $\beta_{2, i}$ $\beta_{3, i}$ $\beta_{H}$ $\varepsilon_1$ 0.35 0.4 0.5 0 0.1 $\varepsilon_2$ 0.65 0.1 0.75 0.15 0 Probability Mass $m_{1, i}$ $m_{2, i}$ $m_{3, i}$ $m_{H, i}$ $\bar{m}_{H, i}$ $\tilde{m}_{H, i}$ 0.14 0.175 0 0.685 0.65 0.035 0.065 0.4875 0.0975 0.35 0.35 0
Factors identified in sustainable design and the corresponding strategies
 Evaluation grade (%) Factors H1 H2 H3 H4 H5 Unassigned Reduce energy usage 5 15 27 24 10 19 Reduce material usage 1 5 22 31 37 4 Reduce use of non-renewable resources 1 21 21 18 23 16 Reduce waste 1 4 28 41 10 16 Reduce emissions 1 4 18 38 21 18 Eliminate waste 11 14 30 23 13 9 Eliminate emissions 10 5 24 31 8 22 Minimize use of toxic substances 0 0 8 26 50 16 Minimize waste 3 3 30 37 5 22 Recycling components/ materials 0 17 29 26 18 10 Reusing components/ materials 11 17 12 34 19 7 Increase product functionality 0 2 29 27 26 16 Increase product lifespan 3 19 36 26 14 2 Increase use of renewable materials 0 8 20 40 10 22 Increase use of renewable energy 2 8 20 29 19 22 Increase use of biodegradable materials 1 13 36 30 5 15 Sustainable material selection 0 9 15 47 25 4 Circular material flow 0 7 28 11 5 49 Holistic view 4 6 9 28 16 37 Sustainable social standards 4 3 21 26 20 26 Economic benefits 0 1 26 22 40 11 Increased competitiveness 0 1 27 31 38 3
 Evaluation grade (%) Factors H1 H2 H3 H4 H5 Unassigned Reduce energy usage 5 15 27 24 10 19 Reduce material usage 1 5 22 31 37 4 Reduce use of non-renewable resources 1 21 21 18 23 16 Reduce waste 1 4 28 41 10 16 Reduce emissions 1 4 18 38 21 18 Eliminate waste 11 14 30 23 13 9 Eliminate emissions 10 5 24 31 8 22 Minimize use of toxic substances 0 0 8 26 50 16 Minimize waste 3 3 30 37 5 22 Recycling components/ materials 0 17 29 26 18 10 Reusing components/ materials 11 17 12 34 19 7 Increase product functionality 0 2 29 27 26 16 Increase product lifespan 3 19 36 26 14 2 Increase use of renewable materials 0 8 20 40 10 22 Increase use of renewable energy 2 8 20 29 19 22 Increase use of biodegradable materials 1 13 36 30 5 15 Sustainable material selection 0 9 15 47 25 4 Circular material flow 0 7 28 11 5 49 Holistic view 4 6 9 28 16 37 Sustainable social standards 4 3 21 26 20 26 Economic benefits 0 1 26 22 40 11 Increased competitiveness 0 1 27 31 38 3
Important design factors, relevant score and rank
 Factors Ranking score (%) Rank Minimize use of toxic substances 82 1 Increase competitiveness 76 2 Economic benefits 75 3 Reduce material usage 74 4 Sustainable material selection 72 5 Reduce emissions 69 6 Increase product functionality 69 7 Reduce waste 64 8 Increase use of renewable energy 64 9 Sustainable social standards 64 10 Increase use of renewable materials 63 11 Holistic view 62 12 Recycling components/materials 61 13 Reduce use of non-renewable resources 60 14 Minimize waste 59 15 Reusing components/materials 58 16 Increase use of biodegradable materials 58 17 Increase product lifespan 57 18 Eliminate emissions 56 19 Reduce energy usage 55 20 Circular material flow 54 21 Eliminate waste 53 22
 Factors Ranking score (%) Rank Minimize use of toxic substances 82 1 Increase competitiveness 76 2 Economic benefits 75 3 Reduce material usage 74 4 Sustainable material selection 72 5 Reduce emissions 69 6 Increase product functionality 69 7 Reduce waste 64 8 Increase use of renewable energy 64 9 Sustainable social standards 64 10 Increase use of renewable materials 63 11 Holistic view 62 12 Recycling components/materials 61 13 Reduce use of non-renewable resources 60 14 Minimize waste 59 15 Reusing components/materials 58 16 Increase use of biodegradable materials 58 17 Increase product lifespan 57 18 Eliminate emissions 56 19 Reduce energy usage 55 20 Circular material flow 54 21 Eliminate waste 53 22
Important design factors and corresponding design strategy
 Most important identified factors Design strategy (%) Minimize use of toxics substances (82%) Eco-design and Zero waste Increased competitiveness (76%) Eco-design Economic benefits (75%) Eco-design, Cradle-to-cradle and Zero waste Reduce material usage (74%) Eco-design and life-cycle strategies Material selection (72%) $\cdots$ Reduce emissions (69%) $\cdots$ Increase product functionality (69%) Eco-design
 Most important identified factors Design strategy (%) Minimize use of toxics substances (82%) Eco-design and Zero waste Increased competitiveness (76%) Eco-design Economic benefits (75%) Eco-design, Cradle-to-cradle and Zero waste Reduce material usage (74%) Eco-design and life-cycle strategies Material selection (72%) $\cdots$ Reduce emissions (69%) $\cdots$ Increase product functionality (69%) Eco-design
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