Experts have been developing design for sustainability tools and methods for several decades, but their practical application remains challenging and varies in different contexts. The limited literature on design for sustainability in Turkey reflects the inadequacy of legislation, market demand and companies' practices; nonetheless, one can find good examples of design for sustainability in the country. This study investigates the best performing companies in Turkey's sustainability field through a survey that addresses the barriers they face, the benefits they achieve, their further needs for achieving sustainability and the scope of, and drivers for, the practices. Findings indicate that among the design for sustainability strategies, the sample companies are more active in 'producing and manufacturing' and 'packaging'. They are driven to 'boost brand value and reputation' but not to 'increase exports'. Inadequate 'market demand' and 'legislation' are by far the biggest barriers. Companies' needs to carry out sustainability activities are high, but mostly with regards to 'research & development'. Recent results differ somewhat from the earlier findings in Turkey and to a greater extent from previous studies in Europe. In Turkey, design for sustainability is still comprehended as an issue of production needing the attention and expertise of designers. It can generate benefits even when its practice is limited. Promoting design for sustainability within the industry by providing good examples can increase its impact. This study builds a background for future research on design for sustainability and for spreading its use by companies, universities, intermediaries and policy makers. The results might be applicable to other contexts experiencing similar setbacks on sustainability as the Turkish industry. (C) 2015 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.