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UPM launches collaboration with Aalto Design Factory to promote sustainable design

FINLAND (News release) -- UPM has entered a partnership with Aalto Design Factory to study sustainable design. Aalto Design Factory will investigate the extent that sustainability guides designers' choices and explore new perspectives and ways of addressing sustainability throughout the life cycle of products and services. For example, decisions on materials are often made already during early design phases, and these have a significant impact on the resulting product sustainability.

UPM is keen to participate widely in research and development promoting sustainability. The core aim of Aalto Design Factory's research project Design+Sustainability is to find new, effective means of promoting sustainability and to yield new information about how sustainability can be promoted from the earliest stage of the design process in the creation of new products and services.

"It's great to have UPM enabling research on sustainable design. We at Design Factory are looking into how designers can incorporate sustainability into their work and organisations. This analysis also generates new insights about development trends and views for the future of the field. Sustainability plays a growing role in shaping the work of designers as well as the decisions of consumers, so the theme is very topical," says Professor of Practice Tua Björklund.

New information about sustainability and design
The cooperation between UPM and Aalto University will provide new, internationally reviewed and published information about sustainability and the steering role it plays in design work, as well as what kinds of sustainability should be considered during the design phase. Design Factory is a global operator, and this study too will be conducted with international stakeholder groups in mind. The results will be made public to ensure that the project is useful to a wide range of operators.

"Design and design thinking have been studied extensively, but comprehensive scientific research on sustainable and responsible design is still lacking. I believe the results will be useful in practice, but there is also an academic need for this kind of research," says Björklund. The results will be published by autumn 2022.

Ambitious responsibility goals
Sustainability is an important part of Aalto University's work and research. UPM also has ambitious responsibility targets. As a manufacturer of materials, the company enables its customers and end users to make more sustainable choices.

"In our responsibility work we lean heavily on science. We want to constantly learn more and innovate sustainable products and solutions for the future beyond fossils," says Sami Lundgren, Vice President, UPM Responsibility. "We want to sharpen our profile as a frontrunner in responsibility by inviting debate around different ways that we can all improve sustainability."

Responsibility and circular economy play a key role in UPM's Biofore strategy. "We will generate proven information on what kinds of choices and practices promote sustainable development starting from the early stages of the life cycle of products and services," says Sami Lundgren. "We believe the information will be useful to everyone involved in the various phases of product design and production. In addition, this nicely supports UPM's target of including the UN Sustainable Development Goals in its product development."

The research project is led by Professor of Practice Tua Björklund. Aalto Design Factory was founded in 2008, and its Design Factory Global Network operates in 32 platforms in 25 countries. The experimentation platforms advance new co-creation and innovation practices in the education, research and practice of product development.

This partnership is a part of UPM's Share and Care programme. The programme focuses on projects that are relevant to both UPM's business and responsibility goals. The focus areas are: Reading & Learning, Engaging with communities and Beyond fossils initiatives.

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