Bio-based products are made from renewable materials, offering a promising basis for the production of sustainable chemicals, materials, and more complex articles. However, biomass is not a limitless resource or one without environmental and social impacts. Therefore, while it is important to use biomass and grow a bio-based economy, displacing the unsustainable petroleum basis of energy and chemical production, any resource must be used effectively to reduce waste. Standards have been developed to support the bio-based product market in order to achieve this aim. However, the design of bio-based products has not received the same level of attention. Reported here are the first steps towards the development of a framework of understanding which connects product design to resource efficiency. Research and development scientists and engineers are encouraged to think beyond simple functionality and associate value to the potential of materials in their primary use and beyond.