Looking back to 2019 when I was invited to judge the D&AD Awards for the first time, there was little – if any – discussion on the environmental impact of entrants' design work in the product design category. Other than in one specific Sustainable subcategory – of which only a pack of edible chopsticks got a mention – there was no requirement for applicants to give details on the sustainability considerations of their products or packaging. A lot has changed in four years.
We’ve had three of the hottest years on record. Scientists have confirmed that we will reach 1.5C of global warming around 2035, and there has been a visceral shift in the design industry. Whether it’s being faced with our own vulnerability during the Covid-19 pandemic, the increasing threat to supply chains caused by political instability, or the famous words of a 16-year-old addressing the UN Climate Action Summit – something has woken us up.