Product policy and material scarcity challenges: The essential role of government in the past and lessons for today

David Peck, Conny Bakker, Prabhu Kandachar, T. de Rijk

Research output: Chapter in Book/Conference proceedings/Edited volumeConference contributionScientificpeer-review

176 Downloads (Pure)


Materials are important in economies, business, innovation activity and products, and they have quickly become essential to maintain and improve our quality of life. The world faces problems concerning material supply, but these concerns are not translated into product design activity, even though history shows that product design policy can play an important role in finding solutions to materials problems. This paper has a focus on the role of governmental policy in ensuring material availability to the state.

The case of British WWII Utility Furniture scheme is one where consumer products were designed and developed as a response to severe material shortages. This action is set in the context of wartime conditions where the products were designed, manufactured, used and often reused over a long lifetime, under very stringent governmental control.

The control came from the government ministries but was designed and manufactured by the private sector. The furniture scheme was brought in to allow workers to have a furnished home to live in, eat and rest to allow them to work to help win the war.

Drawing on policy lessons from the wartime cases this paper makes a comparison of the WWII British approach with a European 21st century action plan for the circular economy, which raises important questions for policy development.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationPlate Product Lifetimes And The Environment 2017
Subtitle of host publicationConference Proceedings
EditorsC. Bakker, R. Mugge
Place of PublicationAmsterdam
PublisherIOS Press
Number of pages6
ISBN (Electronic)978-1-61499-820-4
ISBN (Print)978-1-61499-819-8
Publication statusPublished - 2017
EventPLATE 2017: Product Lifetimes and the Environment - Delft, Netherlands
Duration: 8 Nov 201710 Nov 2017

Publication series

NameResearch in Design Series
PublisherIOS Press


ConferencePLATE 2017


  • Circular economy

Thematic collaboration

  • Circular Built Environment Hub


Dive into the research topics of 'Product policy and material scarcity challenges: The essential role of government in the past and lessons for today'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this