Addressing Sustainability in Research on Distributed Production

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* Article: Addressing sustainability in research on distributed production: An integrated literature review. By Cindy Kohtala. Journal of Cleaner Production (Impact Factor: 3.84). 08/2014;



"This paper presents an integrated literature review on how the environmental sustainability of distributed production is studied in a variety of disciplinary sources. The notion of distributed production suggests an alternative to mass production that differs in scale, location and consumer–producer relationship. Understanding its environmental implications (and thereby dematerialization potential) is regarded pertinent and timely. Key themes in the review included how distributed production can promote product longevity and closed material loops, as well as localizing production. New and closer ties between producer and consumer seemed central discussions but were underdeveloped with regard to sustainability potential. Empirical work was seen especially in research on Additive Manufacturing Processes, while the bulk of the studies were conceptual explorations with little testing in the real world as yet. This affirms the emerging nature of the topic and points to a clear need for more (and more diverse) empirical research. The review summarizes the opportunities for greater environmental sustainability as well as potential threats that could serve to guide and improve these novel practices today. It sets the stage for ‘distributed production’ to be examined as its own phenomenon by proposing how it can be characterized and suggests that a research agenda could build upon the work initiated here."