Designing Sustainability: Integrating Consumer Behavior and Product Design to Minimize Electronic Waste

The project will focus on mitigating electronic waste (e-waste) through design engineering and market promotion-based solutions that induce “green” behavior from consumers. 

Specifically, the main objective of the first project is to investigate how consumers’ waste generation and product discarding behaviors are affected by product design features as well as by regulatory policies, social norms and practices. To meet this objective, a set of pilot studies will be conducted over the next 9-10 months to yield key insights into the effect of design features on consumers’ sustainability-related behavior.

Six faculty members from four UB schools will integrate relevant expertise in consumer behavior, business strategy and market governance through regulations with product and systems design in industrial and mechanical engineering. The long-term goal of this project is to forge a strong and thriving multidisciplinary faculty group at UB to conduct research on issues of design, development and marketing of “green products.”

The project’s principal investigator is Sara Behdad, PhD, assistant professor in the departments of Industrial and Systems Engineering and Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering. Co-principal investigators are Kathryn Bryk Friedman, PhD, director of international research at UB’s Regional Institute and a research associate professor of law and policy in the Department of Urban and Regional Planning; Arun Lakshmanan, PhD, assistant professor in the Department of Marketing; Kemper Lewis, PhD, professor and chair of the Department of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering; Errol Meidinger, PhD, Margaret W. Wong Professor and director of the Baldy Center for Law and Social Policy; and Debabrata Talukdar, PhD, professor in Department of Marketing.