What is the definition of sustainable product?

Sustainable product is anything offered to a market in order to satisfy a want or need without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.

That is the official definition we use at mikino.com.

No formal definition

Unfortunately, the world is not united when it comes to defining the meaning of sustainable product.

In fact, there doesn’t seem to be any formal definition whatsoever.

When I was researching this topic, I came across several descriptions of the term sustainable product. However, none of them has been used consistently (or, in fact, at all) by any international institution or in any international policy document or agreement.

Descriptions used across the Internet

Below is a list of all the “definitions” I happened to come across in my research:

1. Wikipedia

Sustainable products are those products that provide environmental, social and economic benefits while protecting public health and environment over their whole life cycle, from the extraction of raw materials until the final disposal.

Source: Sustainable products – Wikipedia

2. Ken Peattie

Environmental Marketing Management: Meeting the Green Challenge, 1995, by Ken Peattie | Image: Amazon.com

Sustainable products and services offer satisfying solutions to customer needs and significant improvements in social and environmental performance along the whole product life cycle in comparison to conventional or competing offers.

Source: Peattie, K. (1995): Environmental Marketing Management: Meeting the Green Challenge, London

3. John F. Mahon

Sustainable products are those that use resources and methods that are sustainable–that is that allow for regeneration of raw materials and do not contribute to pollution and toxicity in any form.

Source: How would you define sustainable products vs. socially responsible products?

4. Daianna Karaian

A sustainable product is one that stays in business for the long term by solving more problems than it creates…

Source: 10 things we learned about marketing sustainable products

5. The Lowell Center

Sustainable products minimize environmental and social costs throughout the product lifecycle and aim to maximize environmental and social benefits to communities, while remaining economically viable.

Source: The Lowell Center Framework for Sustainable Products (PDF)