80% of a product’s environmental impact is determined by its design. Eco-design is a concept used to reduce such impacts such as the associated carbon footprint and water use. Expert knowledge and sufficient dissemination of information is often lacking in the field of sustainable products and services. This excompasses tools, methods and a knowledge of new materials and it occurs in all stakeholder groups – industry and SMEs as producers, designers as creators and universities as knowledge contributors.
Based in Germany, White Lobster provides one answer to the need for more eco-innovative and sustainable products, which are of a high quality and design. The focus of this creative forum for sustainable innovation and communication is the concrete development of case studies and products, which on top has an active matchmaking component. White Lobster’s Green Product Award Competition is open to all potential participants. During this eco-design competition the network provides support on different levels: newcomers receive guiding information about sustainable methods, tools, materials as well as feedback on their contributions. Producers gain the external feedback on their approach. Selected participants get extended support on their business model and are included in the matchmaking process with other companies.
The Green Product Award competition facilitates eco-innovation in a variety of ways: Stakeholders are engaged in mutual learning, networking takes place to facilitate at different maturity levels, new eco-innovations gain visibility, and matchmaking supports the route to market. Furthermore consumers are inspired by tangible, new sustainable products. The Award procedure helps by disseminating knowledge, raising awareness, promoting sustainable practices and sharing good practice. Product proposals are divided into 7 categories and they are ranked according to 4 aspects: design, innovation, sustainability. The later criterion allocates points for radical new concepts or sustainable development attributes e.g. social responsibility during the manufacturing process. These aspects, alongside green and eco-design criteria characterise the uniqueness of the White Lobster approach.
Being a member of the Green Product Award Platform means being part of a growing network promoting sustainable product issues. Its concept is ready for full deployment, qualifying it for an estimated level 5 on the generic maturity scale GML. White Lobster’s financial base is a sound mix of contribution fees, start-up-shares, income generated by providing consultancy as well as project funding and contribution from sponsors. Designing indicators for the Green Product Award, as well as increasing the understanding and implementation of eco-innovation aspects in product development processes, will help reduce environmental impacts and give support to business. During its first year, White Lobster and its Green Product Award were focused within Germany, but due to its success it is about to extend the network´s activities to an international level. As a next step strategic partnerships are organised to widen the reach. The aim is to extend the network service from Lifecycle Analysis through to pre-production stages.