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P4.3: Design for Sustainability


Companies will approach all product development and product management decisions with full consideration of the social and environmental impacts of the product throughout its life cycle.

Designing a product or service for sustainability can mean vastly different things from company to company. For some, it means a shift in sourcing practices to more sustainable raw materials or the use of a life cycle assessment to examine the social and environmental impacts of an existing product from cradle to grave. For others, it may translate to the total redesign of a product or eliminating the product all together through the introduction of a service that helps to shift consumer behavior towards less consumption.

For this expectation Ceres and Sustainalytics evaluated 419 companies across 16 sectors: Autos & Transportation, Banks, Consumer Staples, Financial Services, Food & Beverage, Footwear & Apparel, Industrials, Insurers, Real Estate, Semiconductors, Retail, Tech Hardware, Tech Software, Telecom, Oil & Gas Producers, and Utilities. Based on the sector-specific nature of this expectation, the indicators were correlated to the relevant sectors (for more detail see Methodology).

Key Findings

  • Of the 419 companies assessed, nearly 50 percent (206) are leveraging opportunities to offer sustainable products and/or services, consistent with our results in 2012.
  • Yet, only the 9 percent in Tier 1 have targets and goals to innovate or invest in sustainable products and/or services.For example, Nike integrates sustainable design across its product portfolio – including new product innovations like the FlyKnit running shoe, which creates two-thirds less waste in production than its traditionally manufactured counterparts. The company also embraces a vision of collaboration and transparency and has open sourced much of its own research, such as its Considered Design tool, to others in the industry.

To read the full analysis, key findings and sector insights from Gaining Ground, click here.


Interactive Data

Click on a performance tier below to view more information about how companies are performing.

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[23] Priority Sector Companies in Mediocre in 2014