Concerns for the enviroment are currently dominated by global warming and climate change, caused by the consumption of fossil fuels. A significant factor is the consumption of energy by manufactured products during their use phase. The production of these products is also a focus of attention because of the inefficient way that society in general and industry in particular manages resources. A responsible approach to design and manufacture of products should embrace efficient resource use by reducing the consumption of non-renewable resources throughout a product's life-cycle. This provides tremendous opportunities for practicing a whole raft og concepts and practices that embrace, for example: design for environment, environmentally benign/conscious manufacture, waste minimization, dematerialization and product service system, energy conservation and management, green/sustainable supply chain management, product end-of-life management and reverse logistics.
The cocnerns for the environment are intrinsic to the concept of sustainable development but this concept also embraces the economic and social context within which concern for the environment is exercised. Whilst the broad concept of sustainable development is commonly accepted, it is the emphasis on resource use and conservation that most strongly permeate legislation. Governments have recognized theur responsibility to the environment and exercised their authority through legislation that directly affects manufacturing businesses. Such legislation requires that businesses reduce their consumption of resources, especially energy, minimize their waste and accept their responsibility for their products when they reach the end of the their working life. It is within this context that the proposal for a special issue was generated.