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Dishwashers: Literature Review to Summarise the Multi-Dimensionality of Sustainable Production and Consumption





An automatic dishwasher is a water-using, energy-demanding contraption with 40–50 different component parts fashioned out of different materials—metals and non-metals—which over the last 70 years has evolved in its role as a comfort-enhancing, convenience-providing, time-saving white good in the kitchen of the modern urban household, especially in the countries of the developed world. Its lifecycle, which spans about 12–13 years on average, lends itself to research in a variety of sustainability aspects—politico-legal/regulatory, economic, environmental, social and techno-functional—and fields—thermodynamics, fluid mechanics, acoustics, economics, chemistry, microbiology, materials science, design engineering, wastewater treatment, energy engineering, consumer behaviour, and, of late, sustainable consumption and production. The end goal of this review is to present the automatic dishwasher—almost ubiquitous and taken-for-granted in the western world these days—as a candidate for progressive research and development, resulting in its continued evolution. The author facilitates this by providing an overview of the different aspects of sustainability addressed by researchers thus far. It at once reinforces the importance of transdisciplinary research, finds answers to a clutch of ‘what’, ‘why’, ‘where’, ‘how’, ‘who’, and ‘when’ questions, and reminds us that improvement/s in one aspect must not undermine or thwart those in any of the others. It is the first of its kind, as far as the automatic dishwasher is concerned; it is a well-structured review of 84 peer-reviewed journal publications focusing on the dishwasher, accessed through Scopus and contacting researchers through ResearchGate, spanning the time period 1980–2021, originating in 21 countries (with Germany leading the pack, with 22% of the publications), and sourced from 63 different journals. Over a 16-year period between 1998 and 2014, both the energy use and water consumption of dishwashers decreased by well over 40%. Consumers in the USA, reportedly, are willing to pay up to 90% more for a higher-rated dishwasher. Interestingly, a publication from Germany states that manual dishwashing, if done in accordance with the Best Practice Tips (recommended by another German study), can have a 20% lower environmental footprint than automatic dishwashers.

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