Researchers at the Duke Center for Sustainability & Commerce are partnering with colleagues at Cambridge University and the Sustainability Consortium on research focused on quanitifying how consumers use and dispose of products.
Partially funded by the Sustainability Consortium, the research team is analyzing empirical data and consumer surveys to quantify energy, climate, water, resource and ecosystem impacts during the life of a consumer product.
Through this work, researchers hope to identify ways to better design products and develop education strategies that help to reduce environmental impacts starting from the time a consumer product is purchased until it is disposed. The work will aslo provide practitioners a more thorough examination of product impact beyond the manufacturing, distribution and retail phases.
The data will assist in building up the Sustainability Consortium's "Open I/O Database, as well as the U.S. Department of Energy's "U.S. Life Cycle Inventory Database." The Center released a report related to this work titled, Examining Consumer and Post-Consumer Life Cycle Impacts and Policies in the United States and United Kingdom.