Menu image/svg+xml

Civil Society Feedback for Sustainable Product Development Approaches and outcomes from the perspective of civil society initiatives

The research project “Consumer Protection in service of the UN Agenda 2030 and the Sustainable Development Goals” (SDGpro) investigates the role of civil society product feedback and bundled manufacturer communication in directing product design and development towards sustainability. The first work package examines the consumer apps ReplacePlastic, Replace PalmOil and ToxFox and the NGO “Round-Table Repair e.V.” in order to have an overview of existing civil society engagement in the area of product design.

The apps allow consumers to scan products and check for certain properties such as toxic substances, palm oil or plastic packaging. If an unwanted component is identified, pre-formulated e-mails can be used to send customer feedback directly to the manufacturer. The aim is to bring about a change in product design by the manufacturers. The apps differ in whether they formulate their feedback based on a legal basis and whether they pool the feedback before sending it to the manufacturers.

Repair Cafés and the “Round-Table Repair” initiative represent additional forms of civil society engagement in the field of product design and product development. On the one hand, consumers are empowered to carry out their own repairs. On the other hand, feedback on the reparability of products is pooled and the “right to repair” is demanded at the political level.

The report concludes that the feedback and communication functions of the apps can provide important impulses for the orientation of product design and development according to sustainability aspects. In addition, the repair community makes an important contribution at the political level to demand a level playing field and the reduction of information asymmetries.