In recent years several concepts have emerged that touch upon sustainability. Eco design generally refers to the use of eco-friendly materials in products. Green design goes a little bit further and encompasses the product development and production process. Sustainable design is the most comprehensive and overarching concept which encompasses all three spheres of sustainability: environmental, social and economical, merging ethical thinking with design thinking values. Companies that embrace sustainable design develop product lines which are commercially viable i.e. economically sustainable, and the production of which does not jeopardize environment. The local employment created in the production of input material for these products, alongside direct employment, contributes to livelihood security and social and economic sustainability including more equitable value chains. Since these products are easily produced within the traditional set up of ‘craft villages’ characteristic of Vietnam’s cultural industry, they also help vitalize and sustain the local culture.
When deciding whether to invest in sustainable practices, many companies will likely first ask if they can raise the prices of their products. A 2012 report of the World Economic Forum found that 72 percent of European consumers are willing to pay a premium price for green products. And in many markets there are consumers whose commitment to healthy lifestyles, fair trade and environmental conservation allow for price premiums of 20 percent or more on items that retail for less than $ 100. On the other hand, however, research suggests that consumers are increasingly expecting companies to offer only sustainably produced goods. Sustainability is increasingly becoming mainstream. This means that there will not necessarily be a price premium in the longer perspective. However, manufacturers that do not use sustainable practices will face increasingly limited markets for their products. So while you may be able to slightly increase prices after investing in more sustainable practices, the greater benefits will be an immediate advantage over your competitors, a jumpstart on the inevitable trend towards greater sustainability and increasing access to global markets. Simply put, manufacturers that demonstrate a commitment to sustainable practices are more attractive that those that do not.
Vietcraft is proud to partner with the Centre for the Promotion of Imports from developing countries (CBI – www.cbi.eu) which has started its Vietnam Sustainable Design pilot project in 2013. In the first 2 years, over 50 home decoration or home textiles manufacturers have received training in applying more sustainable practices in their company. More than 25 exporters have worked on developing sustainable product ranges, assisted by a team of designers and experts. In 2014, 9 companies showed their new collections at the Ambiente trade fair in Frankfurt, with exciting results. Many of the products have now found their way to the European market. In 2015, CBI and Vietcraft will present the results of a second round of the Sustainable Design project at Ambiente. Vietnamese exporters have addressed sustainability in different ways. Some exporters are now using recycled or renewable materials, others have improved on working conditions in their factory. Many are saving costs by reducing the amount of material of water in their production process, or are reducing the transport volume of their goods.
“Sustainability has become a key concern for our sector”, notes Mr. Le Ba Ngoc, Vice Chairman of Vietcraft. It has therefore gained a prominent place at our trade fair Lifestyle Vietnam. At Lifestyle Vietnam you will therefore encounter the entries of Vietcraft’s sustainable product design competition on display.
Some examples of Vietnamese companies that have successfully embraced sustainability as a guiding principle in their business are presented below. By choosing to adopt one or more dimensions of social and ecological sustainability, the companies have developed new product ranges that not only meet sustainability principles but also add more value to their products when entering the market and finding their way to people’s homes.
- Sustainability in Material: Recycled paper products – by Blue Dragon
Blue Dragon uses recycled paper as the main material for their products, which, in turn reduces the waste of used paper.
- Sustainability through Social Responsibility: Ethnic textile with modern product design – By Hanoi Design Center
Combining the traditional weaving technique of Vietnam’s ethnic minorities with modern product design adds more value to the products in response to market demand, while providing employment and income for disadvantaged ethnic minorities and contributing to the preservation of traditional culture.
- Sustainability in Packaging: Stackable products Quang Vinh Ceramic
The company offers various ways of stacking and combining different products, providing additional functionality and a certain playfulness to the product range. Being stackable also helps the company in reducing the packaging volume of the products.